A+ A A-
Salesforce Logo

A few months ago, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com invited the founders of Rypple, a start-up he had hoped to buy, for lunch. Soon thereafter, Salesforce bought Rypple for $60 million – turning down a much larger offer from a company with mega-vendor backing. The decision, as one of the founders said, was made “not because of deal terms, but corporate culture”.

Published in Software
Preparing for the mobile workforce: Bring Your Own Device and beyond

The days where employees were confined to desks in front of a company-owned-and-controlled personal computer are long gone. Workers are increasingly mobile, jetting off to different locations around the country (and the globe), and they no longer keep office hours, preferring to fire off emails and complete tasks on the road and from home.


This was when we first saw the concept of BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device), and with it, Mobile Device Management, enter the market. The premise behind Mobile Device Management was, initially, the need to control the data employees were accessing – mainly for security purposes and to curb the abuse of company Wi-Fi. The first phase of MDM was concerned with restricting information – and with good reason. If a CEO’s IPad, containing the latest pricing strategy, was stolen, the IT department had to be able to remotely shut down the device to prevent a competitor from accessing it. Likewise, if an employee left the company’s service, so would their smartphone - with all the potentially sensitive emails contained on it.

Published in Mobile
Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:00

The Shift to ‘Disposable’ IT

The Shift to ‘Disposable’ IT

With the prices of our most treasured gadgets falling every year, coupled with the increasing sophistication of ‘cloud’ solutions, IT is fast becoming highly ‘disposable.’ Essentially, consumers become more attached to the content that their hardware houses – more so than the actual hardware – so replacing technology when it becomes outdated (or is rendered unusable, for some reason) is becoming less painful – provided that the content is securely stored and backed up somewhere.


Indeed, in recent years, we have noticed a significant shift in our customers’ approach to technology. In the past, customers used to look at their PC as an asset that required maintenance to conserve its value and that could be upgraded – now, upgrades are hardly considered because the cost of labour and parts to upgrade a PC is often greater than the cost of a better, newer model.


For example, with regards to popular electronics like DVD players, you can buy a basic player for around R400. Should it break, however, you would need to look for a repair shop, wait for repairs, retrieve it and perhaps spend R400 for the repair (and have an old DVD player as opposed to getting a brand new one delivered to your door for the same price).


Another important aspect to consider is how cumbersome the process of transferring your data to a new machine used to be. This acted as a deterrent against buying new tech, and encouraged people to repair what they had…yet these days, if you know how to go about it, it is very easy to be up and running with a new computer/tablet/smartphone if your data is in the cloud.


The gadgets people use are also important status symbols: no one is interested in your old, upgraded PC, but you can definitely show off the latest smartphone and do almost exactly the same things you can do with a PC (view photos, open documents, send and receive emails, etc).


Up in the Cloud

The technology that is driving the shift to ‘disposable IT’ is the widespread move to the cloud; i.e. to storing and backing up information on outside servers. There are numerous platforms that have sprung up to make the move to the cloud as smooth as possible. Evernote is a fantastic, free tool to keep your notes, web clips or even voice memos synchronized across all your devices. The new Outlook 365 subscription, as well as Gmail or icloud are all great ways to access your email from anywhere and make sure it is never lost. In addition, you can store documents and pictures on sites like dropbox.com where you have a certain amount of storage space available for free (if you need more you can purchase subscriptions). A similar service is provided by - and both platforms will keep your files safe and accessible from most devices.


In the business environment, SharePoint and Office 365 have enabled many small businesses to make do without costly hardware like servers that require maintenance and regular upgrades. Coupled with a reliable support company that ensures that your network is safe and functional, the cloud can take care of most of your IT requirements at an affordable price.


A Word of Advice…
I would definitely encourage people to make use of the cloud. I personally don’t need to back up anything anymore. Even if a big fire destroys all my gadgets (and I have quite a few) all I need to do is get a new one, log in (to where my info is stored) and get all my data back… however, don’t forget to be safe on the Internet and run antivirus software. The danger of synchronization across devices is that if one file becomes corrupted/infected, it can easily spread across all your devices – so always be cautious.


Defining ‘the Cloud’

At its root, cloud computing is a service that provides IT solutions via the Internet. The "cloud" provides services that vary in capability - from basic e-mail service to enterprise software applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), and of course, storage. The main objective of cloud computing is to provide companies and consumers with an accessible and seamless platform to build and host applications and keep their data secure.

Published in Hardware
Friday, 07 June 2013 12:15

What your IT manager could be doing instead of managing a server room

What your IT manager could be doing instead of managing a server room

4 non-negotiable areas of focus for IT Managers

We all recognise the stereotypical IT manager sitting behind a desk in the company dungeon, wearing a t-shirt sporting an obscure geek reference, and sighing into the phone as he tries to convince the marketing manager to use a password other than 'God'. 

Published in Storage & Data Centres
Monday, 11 February 2013 15:56

Building Long-Term Cloud Cover

Building Long-Term Cloud Cover

Why moving your contact centre operation into the cloud isn’t a decision to be undertaken in a hurry


For a number of years now, the cloud has been the buzzword in the contact centre industry. Research suggests that a large number of local companies are starting to shift their operations into this virtual environment, citing cost saving and increased operational efficiency as primary drivers.


With legacy systems beginning to age, and companies being faced with complex and costly upgrade scenarios, the cloud represents a logical choice for those looking to stay relevant in a swiftly evolving technological landscape.


Yet with this rapid uptake of new technology, many companies have made the mistake of embarking on cloud-based upgrades without any sort of long-term vision, electing instead to embrace the latest trends without casting an eye to sustainability.


The problems companies experience when upgrading their contact centre technologies usually stem from poor on-going support and management, rather than issues arising during the initial installation process. While transferring from one system to another generally brings about a number of minor speed bumps, these are insignificant when compared to the problems that can arise when entering into an agreement with a cloud vendor unable to meet a contact centre’s specific long-term requirements.


As such, companies considering potential cloud suppliers would be well advised to take into account a number of elements that might seem insignificant at the start, but could end up causing severe headaches further down the road.



With customer expectations escalating rapidly, contact centres can no longer afford to experience any significant downtime.  Maintaining system functionality irrespective of mitigating external factors is increasingly critical to a contact centre’s success. As a result, it’s important to partner with a supplier that offers built-in disaster recovery support, with multiple data centres ensuring fail-over capacity in the event of adverse weather or power outages.


In order to accurately assess a potential vendor’s ability to support business continuity, it’s vital that you establish a thorough understanding of their system’s architecture. Interrogate switchover times, gauge their proposed handling of planned outages for upgrades, and ascertain their ability to deal with emergency downtime. By ensuring that your vendor has the necessary resources to keep your system online and stable, you’ll be afforded increased peace of mind, and be better able to allocate resources to the day-to-day running of your contact centre.  


System Ownership

A cloud-based system’s resiliency is also dependent on its capacity to be kept up to date with the latest versions and releases of software. Solutions developed and managed by vendors are likely to offer you a more seamless experience, given the fact that these suppliers have all their resources housed within a single company structure.


Whilst vendors offering third party products are certainly able to deliver high levels of service, their inability to access the teams responsible for a solution’s evolving development certainly impacts their capacity to offer the required levels of support.


Companies proffering their own bespoke solutions are likely to boast a more inherent understanding of your chosen system, enabling them to easily ensure that your software remains current, and to provide comprehensive trouble-shooting support.


On-going Support

While a vendor’s expert knowledge of your product is undeniably important, it is of very little consequence should you be unable to access appropriate and efficient support channels.


Before entering into a service agreement with a vendor, it’s important to make sure from the outset that proper systems and processes are implemented with respect to reporting and resolution, with sufficient resources dedicated to, and accountable for, results.


Rapid patching and issue resolution represent two of the most significant benefits of the cloud as opposed to premises-based solutions, so it’s important that you identify a supplier that is able to meet expectations in this regard.


Building a Stable Home in the Cloud

Moving your contact centre operation to the virtual environment certainly has the potential to boost overall efficiency, as well as your bottom line, but it is a journey that needs to be undertaken with a partner you can trust, and whose vision is appropriately aligned with your own.


Achieving success in the cloud is not simply about doing something fast, but about implementing solutions that are practical, reliable, stable, resilient and safe. By working with a trusted and reputable vendor, your odds of success are high, so make sure to perform due diligence before signing on the dotted line.

Published in Technology
Thursday, 24 January 2013 09:37

The changing channel – seeing the cloud as an opportunity, not a threat

The changing channel – seeing the cloud as an opportunity, not a threat

A depressed economic climate, coupled with the ever-present challenges of shrinking IT budgets, reduced spend and lower margins, are issues which have plagued the channel for many years. More recently the traditional channel has come under threat from the growth of cloud computing, which enables users to gain access to services from service providers rather than purchasing product from resellers. However, the cloud does not necessarily spell the end for the channel. A slight adjustment to the business model can see channel partners take advantage of the opportunities offered by the cloud, accessing new markets and enabling more businesses of all sizes to gain access to advanced enterprise-grade technology.


As bandwidth has become increasingly available, stable and affordable in South Africa, cloud computing has become more of a viable option, leading more and more technologies to be offered as services. This benefits businesses of all sizes, particularly the burgeoning Small Medium Enterprise (SME) market in South Africa, by enabling them to access technologies they could not before due to the cost of infrastructure required. However, the growth of cloud services is seen as infringing upon the traditional channel of vendor-distributor-reseller, as many service providers now act as a middleman and cut the reseller out of the chain. In order to keep the channel alive, business models need to adapt and both distributors and resellers need to change their offerings slightly, catering for demand for services while maintaining traditional distribution channels.


The key to the survival of the channel is a change of mind-set. Currently, distributors take their products to market through the channel. The distributor distributes products, which are then resold by the reseller. As products become services, this does not mean that the channel needs to collapse, because effectively the model remains the same. Distributors are still buying products from vendors, but instead of moving boxes, the cloud model means that the distributor then takes these products and builds solutions, which can still be resold to the end customer. In this model, it does not pay the distributor to take services directly to the market, as this will require a sales force and greater focus on customer service. Nor does it pay for the reseller to attempt to buy products and resell services straight from the vendor, as this will require the building of substantial infrastructure at a high cost.


With the expected growth of cloud and hosted services, the channel needs to change to more of a service model if it is to remain competitive, which opens up multiple opportunities and allows for access to a far broader market than previously. Many technologies, including video conferencing and video collaboration, have typically been the domain of the large enterprise exclusively. The channel however, has a large market base that falls outside of the large enterprise space. By offering technology such as video as a service, distributors can effectively create a new market for resellers, enabling them to offer enterprise-grade services to SMEs and small corporates.


The shift of the channel however, is not just about new markets and selling services instead of products. In the new channel, resellers will focus on offering on-site customer services focused on optimising the functions and capabilities of the solutions offered, user training and adoption services as well as the traditional repair services for on-site equipment, rather than physical product sales. The emphasis on system integration will fall away in favour of end user and customer support. Integration will happen at vendor level however, as much as end users are able to purchase products directly from vendors in many instances, customer service and after-sales support remains an issue. When things go wrong, the end user wants to be able to talk to a person for support, not a faceless website. This means that the role of the channel will become more people and support oriented, focusing on configuration and user support, amongst other roles.


The year 2013 is set to be the year of services, as the cloud gains popularity and more service providers deliver their offerings into the market. Moving towards a hosted model can create opportunities for the channel bringing in a new portfolio of services for them to resell. The key to keeping the channel alive is for distributors and vendors to work with channel partners rather than undermining them or cutting them out. If this can be successfully achieved, the cloud will not erode the channel’s business but rather change the business model, offering opportunities and new markets to be explored.

Published in Storage & Data Centres
Friday, 18 January 2013 10:30

Ten reasons to move your backup to the cloud

Ten reasons to move your backup to the cloud

The data explosion is increasing demand for data storage, driving up costs, amplifying the risk of data loss or exposure and complicating disaster recovery plans and strategies. Furthermore, organisations are increasingly moving away from cumbersome, error-prone, tape-based backup solutions. As a result of these factors, cloud-based data protection and backup solutions are becoming increasingly attractive.

Published in Storage & Data Centres
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 08:46

Which tech trends will be making waves in 2013? Experts weigh in

Which tech trends will be making waves in 2013? Experts weigh in

2012 has seen interesting technological advances. Vodacom and MTN have both announced the rollout of 4G as South Africa heads towards full LTE mobile networks, fibre optics are becoming more accessible and consumers have rushed to buy the iPad 3 and iPhone 5. We’ve asked 5 experts to weigh in on which developments will be making waves in 2013:

01 Mobile internet will be on the uptake

“I expect that the advent of 4G networks will have a positive impact on the market. The cost of bandwidth and smart devices will decrease, which means that rich technology will become more prolific. On the negative side, the IT skill issue remains a problem, particularly best of breed. We need to start developing skills from the ground up to ensure that the technology sector remains lucrative in the future.” – Nick Cadenhead, IT solutions consultant AIGS

02 Businesses will become greener

“The implementation of carbon taxation in 2013/2014 means that IT departments will be subject to scrutiny in terms of energy efficiency and carbon footprinting. Not only will this drive innovation for low-energy hardware development, but also in terms of usage. Inefficient PC power management can be a significant source of electricity waste. In 2013, we should be seeing greater demands on the reduction of “drowsy servers” and wasted power through wake-on-lan technology.  The good news is that this will greatly reduce costs (along with carbon emissions), particularly for industries with an extensive IT infrastructure.” Tim James, MD of sustainableIT and The Carbon Report

03 Cloud computing will become more prevalent

“Cloud computing will continue to prove disruptive to businesses, but the providers that will weather the storm of rapid cloud tech adoption are the ones who are willing to provide support throughout the project life cycle. Rather than selling a solution-in-a-box, but they will guarantee service at a fixed monthly hosting cost to minimise upfront investment. We expect to see several companies move to a cloud-based model in order to take advantage of the cost benefits and scalability.” – Bruce von Maltitz, MD of 1Stream

04 VoIP will become more important

“While fixed line penetration is waning, ADSL is growing in absolute numbers and as a percentage of fixed line installations. By and large, the gap will be filled by mobile and wireless solutions, but also by networked voice (VoIP) offerings from a plethora of alternative telcos. VoIP is making increasing inroads, worldwide as well as in South Africa. The technology is strong in greenfields implementations (new companies or branches) and as replacements of end-of-life analogue systems.” – Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom

05 M-commerce and location-aware will increase

“For over a decade, mobile retail has been viewed as a niche market, with profitable but somewhat insignificant products such as ringtones/wallpapers. This is slowly changing, as more shoppers prefer to use mobile smart devices to conduct business with. If the cost of mobile data goes down, the popularity of m-commerce will increase.  Companies should start integrating their existing websites and tools with the new technology and devise a holistic digital strategy. Ultimately, of course, the real benefits lie in the opportunities presented by the bevy of apps that are being created. Shoppers browsing a retail store are free to either buy online on the same store’s website, or do comparative browsing online and shop elsewhere. In this scenario, mobile loyalty schemes are becoming a must. Coalition loyalty schemes like Shopkick offer rewards (‘kicks’) for merely walking into stores, with ‘kicks’ redeemable on any partner merchandise. Soon we’ll see location-aware services, near-field communications and other innovations dominating the market.” – Wesley Lynch, MD of Realmdigital


It’s seems as though the consumerisation of IT continues to drive innovation as developers scramble to create applications and services that can be accessed on any platform, on any device. But one thing is certain: technology continues to empower businesses to lower their operating costs and improve their service offering.

Published in Technology
Monday, 26 November 2012 15:37

Leave your complexity worries behind

Leave your complexity worries behind

There’s no enterprise complexity with cloud computing

“OK, admittedly there is complexity in the cloud. Any large-scale computing and communications infrastructure platform has complexity coming out of its ears,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom. “But the point is that a good cloud-based solutions provider shields customers from it.”

Published in Technology
Friday, 26 October 2012 12:45

The Power of the cloud collective

The Power of the cloud collective

The cost-cutting advantages of cloud computing are well-publicised and accepted. Which company wouldn’t relish the prospect of paying only for the services they use or adjusting consumption up and down according to business needs? Of course – it is not without its pitfalls.


Simply put, no single cloud provider can deliver all the cloud services a business might want to procure, which means that there is often a need to use multiple vendors. And these vendors, if they are attuned to the marketplace, have to make sure that all they are able to integrate and accommodate a variety of in- and outsourced systems and keep all the moving parts working together effectively.


Gartner has said that the various systems that support technology are becoming as important as the technology itself, predicting that mash-ups, joint projects and integration will dominate the market. After all, businesses are finding that they need the ability to speak to their customers and access information across a variety of technologies. We’ve already seen that time-constrained technologists are composing applications and programs through collaboration and mashups, as opposed to creating them from scratch. Collaboration in the cloud is particularly powerful.


We’ve seen the success of integrating our own platform from Interactive Intelligence with Salesforce.com. Part of the reason we chose to do this was because Salesforce is, in all likelihood, the most popular CRM product in the world – with trends companies predicting that they will have captured 25% of the market within the next five years. But mostly we decided to integrate because we believe in the power of using cloud-based CRM programmes.


For one thing, we want customers to buy into the concept of running at least part of their business in the cloud. If Salesforce doesn’t turn out to be what you need, you can switch it off at the end of the month and change it to something else. You can’t do that if you’ve made a huge upfront capital investment in a system. And for us, integration was virtually effortless. It was simply a matter of downloading a pre-packaged integration application from their app centre.


We want to create a world where companies run in the cloud – without expensive data centres, complex upgrades or on-premise software. All of this, of course, integrated with social channels like Twitter or Facebook that allow businesses to tap into the wisdom of the crowd and gain new insights into what their customers are thinking.


As cloud computing continues to gain momentum, buyers and providers of outsourced services have to take note of the actions they will have to continue to take in a world where the cloud business model continues to permeate all aspects of enterprise. It is important to choose the right solution and service delivery model, since it influences everything – basic set-up of the technology, operation, trouble-shooting, quality assurance and technology refreshes.


In the end, cloud services need to be understood, supported, deployed and managed by competent partners. By choosing a partner with a service-centric, consultative approach, customers can be sure that core issues such as their call routing and queues are set up with the help of the experts, reports deliver the best possible analysis for their business type and goals, and their system functions with optimal quality and productivity.


This again proves the argument for making use of a hosted cloud service platform that provides a single point of contact and an end-to-end solution that includes integration into company systems.


There are many ways in which to fail at the risky business of setting up and running a call centre. Partnering with the right platform provider is one way of ensuring you don’t fail before you’re even out of the gates.


Published in Software
  • Start
  • Prev
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • Next
  • End
Page 1 of 3

Editorial Calendar

Click here to download The SA Leader magazine - Editorial Calendar 2013!

Copyright © 2013 gdmc (Geoffrey Dean Marketing Corporation cc). All rights reserved. Material may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. External links are provided for reference purposes. SALeader.co.za is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

Login or Subscribe