FEATURE As we’re seeing, strengthening regional systems is necessary for the evolution of the market at a technical level, particularly with the increased demand for data owing to the growth in fibre-based connectivity and emergence of technologies such as 5G. However, strategic decisions around network expansion also provide a better experience for customers, from services to support. And the importance of convenience and flexibility for customers can never be understated. One case of this is digitally-enabled and automated self-service, providing customers with the power to manage their account at a time and location convenient to them. A further example of convenience that pleases the customer is a diversity of services from the same provider, turning them into a one-stop-shop for all their solution requirements – from connectivity to cloud. There will always be a space for specialist providers of all manner of services, but right now organisations in Africa, from SMEs right up to large multi-national corporates, place value in any ICT company that simplifies their cloud migration. For example, SEACOM’s PoPs are key to its direct access offerings, which bypass the public Internet in connecting company networks to digital business solutions, whether stemming from data centres in Africa, or cloud providers located in Europe. SEACOM’s subsea cable system, which connects East Africa to South Africa, Europe and Asia, offers a fibre express route that carries terabytes of capacity, with speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 100 Gbps. Forgetting for a second the global cloud providers, the opportunity for African businesses to leverage dedicated enterprise-standard services to connect directly and reliably to the local data centres will enable more companies on the continent to embrace the cloud in a compliant manner, and enhance their digital transformation. In addition to laying the foundation for explorations of artificial intelligence and edge computing in years to come – enabled by the elimination of lag inherent to long-distance data transfer – in the near future, locally-delivered Azure cloud services will be joined by popular everyday business tools like Office 365 and Dynamics 365.
NEW-AGE BUSINESS IS CUSTOMER FIRST, ALWAYS
New-age business is at its core about putting customers first and making every decision by considering their needs. When that comes to telcos, that may even mean partnering with competitors in the development of a new product or system, if necessary. Furthermore, for ICT companies promising greater fluidity in operations for their customers, pace-slowing rigidity is to be avoided in their operations at all costs. Customer experience should always be as easy and enjoyable as possible instead of introducing resistance. Investment and development of systems in the region should similarly be orientated towards the business user. On one level, such a future-minded, outward-looking approach helps to position SEACOM and other telcos as a partner to businesses across Africa, by thoroughly equipping them for competitive performance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, aside from reputational (and hopefully profit!) advantages for the telecoms industry, there are more far-reaching repercussions too. Access to faster and more powerful processing on the African continent supports the development of African solutions, and reliable fibre-driven connectivity allows these homegrown solutions to reach markets worldwide. This way, African businesses are gaining access to new opportunities and appear as substantial social and economic contributors at a global level, shattering negative perceptions of the continent. It’s a fundamental shift that advances in connectivity systems in the region are making a reality. STF
African businesses are gaining access to new opportunities and appear as substantial social and economic contributors at a global level, shattering negative perceptions of the continent.
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As Chief Commercial Officer at SEACOM, STEVE BRIGGS oversees sales performance, helps to optimise the product portfolio and drives superior customer experiences across the company’s commercial portfolio. Prior to joining SEACOM, Briggs was Executive Head: Online and Self Service Products and Operations at Vodacom. Briggs has more than a decade of experience in the telecoms sector, co-founding BizCall in 2005 (acquired by Vox Telecom in 2006) and ARC Telecoms in 2010 (acquired by Jasco Electronics in 2012). Ahead of joining Vodacom in 2014, Steve held several positions at Jasco Group, most recently serving as Managing Director of Jasco Enterprise Before moving into the telecoms industry, Steve held a range of senior positions at Standard Bank Group. He holds a B.Com (Economics) from University of Port Elizabeth, a B.Com Honours (Economics) from Unisa and an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand.