Archive for Marzec, 2014

Rectron offers finance options for Microsoft Volume Licensing Customers

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Rectron partners with finance house, Merchant West to provide significant financial relief for SMB Customers

The Mustek Group, a leading distributor of computers, peripherals and accessories has today announced its new finance option for Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL). Rectron has partnered with Merchant West to bring the offering to market. This will empower Customers to acquire Volume Licensing through affordable and spread payments instead of an upfront once off cash payment.

This solution, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, was born out of The Group’s understanding of the financial pressures that many companies and particularly small to medium businesses (SMB) are under. Instead of acquiring these assets by using cash resources, the Customer has the flexibility to lease over a period of time. This allows for the Customer’s cash to be directed towards core activities.

Microsoft Volume Licensing finance option is the perfect offering for businesses of all sizes that are looking to leverage the benefits of software and ultimately define an appropriate IT software strategy for their organisations. The finance option on the Volume Licensing helps businesses to lower the total cost of ownership over the lifetime of their IT investments.

“Through our financing service, we are making it easier and more affordable for SMBs to access the rich benefits that Microsoft’s licensing programmes offer. This will also help South African SMBs to keep up to date with the latest software offerings and the productivity benefits they deliver. The value for our Resellers lies in the fact that this finance option will create new opportunities in enabling them to expand and develop their own software licenses,” says Elaine Wang, Microsoft business unit manager for the Mustek Group*.

Another key initiative aimed at the channel is The Mustek Group’s License 2 Lead campaign, which is a tiered loyalty programme that sees Resellers receiving multiple benefits. These include: access to exclusive events and training, dedicated communications and marketing initiatives, member only incentives, and the ability to earn points that accrue to prizes.

“In this fiercely competitive market, the ultimate differentiator boils down to truly understanding the needs of the market. As a group, we are constantly reviewing means by which we can deliver value along the channel chain and gear our Resellers for success, so that they in turn can make life easier for their Customers. We look forward to seeing the extremely positive impact that this VL finance option will have on the market,” concludes Wang.

 

Ensuring faster, more efficient, personalised customer communication

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Social media is becoming an increasingly popular channel of communication for consumers wanting to lodge complaints about poor service or inferior products. Does this mark a change in preference over more traditional routes, such as telephone, fax, e-mail and the web?

According to Mark Edwards, Intuate Group director and CTO, this shift poses a significant challenge to the traditional call centre, where call handlers are accustomed to gauging the level of dissatisfaction of their customer, by listening during a call and responding accordingly.

He explains that these dynamics in consumer behaviour are forcing “call” centres further down the journey of becoming efficient “contact” centres. In truth, a different communication medium between an organisation and its customer should not be that foreign. Not too long ago, irate customers may have used the postal service to vent their anger. The company in question could then respond back in mail or call the customer. Theoretically then, call centres were already dealing with more than one communication medium and the associated challenges already existed. Then came fax, followed by SMS, e-mail, the web and chat.

“Due to technology limitations, contact centres were generally forced to deal with each of these media as separate channels, something that brought its own challenges, including more agents, additional space, extra managers, bigger payroll. At the same time, there was the overwhelming responsibility to respond to the customer quickly, efficiently and hopefully, in their preferred medium of communication. It is no secret that call centres still struggle with this.

“The evolution of contact centre technologies has sought to address these challenges by bringing multi-channel and unified communication platforms to market,” Edwards says. “And telcos have pitched in by driving convergence in telecommunications. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately not.”

He maintains that consumers’ hasty journey to social media represents a whole new world of challenges for the contact centre, even beyond multi-channel (media) management, with which organisations are still struggling.

“The good news is there are numerous cost effective tools, utilities and services available to assist organisations to listen to the social media ‘buzz’ regarding your company. Regrettably, due to the different nature of the social media, it’s difficult to find a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Some are more focused on the blogosphere, others more appropriate for Twitter and still others are great for Facebook and LinkedIn. The principle is that they exist and they work.”

The obvious challenge, he explains, is the management of this new stream of data as opposed to just the monitoring. “We have seen many organisations trying to solve this problem by adopting and deploying complex CRM systems and attempting to integrate the media channel into these tools. This is extremely complicated and inevitably costly to achieve. A slight adjustment in the approach towards a customer interaction management strategy, as opposed to trying to achieve this in CRM, is a viable and more feasible option.

“The view is that all the information about your customer remains within your CRM system, but the history and management of when and how you last interacted and when and how you need to interact again, is managed and recorded within your interaction engine. The relevant data can then be shared between the two reliably and as regularly as required. The trick is to ensure that the solution driving the agent – customer interaction – is able to provide a single pane view into the CRM; ostensibly, a unified desktop.

“If this all sound like pie-in-the-sky or bleeding edge technology, it’s not. True unified communications platforms for the contact centre do exactly that, efficiently, cost effectively and productively, avoiding the need to increase the workforce substantially. Multi-channel management within these platforms is pretty standard nowadays. For social media, simple gateways pass the data from the social media listeners and the interactions to call handlers as if they were any other medium.

“Clearly, organisations should handle social media interactions differently to more traditional communications, because of the their nature to potentially broadcast to a greater community. However, the principle in managing the interaction should be the same – quickly, efficiently and in the preferred medium of communication.”

Edwards believes that many companies shy away from even considering these solutions because of the preconceived idea that the technologies are way too costly. “While it is true that contact centre technologies represent a significant investment,” he says, “the advantage most contact centres have is access to data and statistics that can prove the business case. It is possible for organisations to gauge the cost of reputational and brand damage on social media. Performance and statistical assessments addressing abandoned interactions via other channels is also deterministic. Since up to 80 percent of contact centre operational costs pertain to human resource and associated infrastructure, the mere saving in extra workforce required to handle social media alone, can justify the expenditure.”

Edwards says that a further concern preventing organisations from exploring the above approach is that it will lead to a significant investment in existing systems being written off. “However, most modern contact centre solutions can interface with existing systems such as PBXs and ACDs, as well as CRM and call centre management systems. They live side by side but must take over the core management of the interaction with your customer and present a simple, single screen to the call handler and report to the CRM database.

“The reality is that social media challenge for contact centres is addressable, but needs to be approached with a sensible technology-centric strategy. It is extremely difficult to achieve the levels of service the consumer demands by managing the interactions with your customer in separate silos of communication channels,” he concludes.

The importance of information management in animal feed manufacturing

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

A sector that produces almost 11 million tonnes of feed and is calculated at between 22 and 25 billion rand, the South African animal feed industry faces a number of challenges, with the maintenance of good profit margins and acceptable levels of plant and equipment utilisation now critical factors in ensuring the survival of these organisations.

Braam Koekemoer, ERP lead: technical and pre-sales at Datacentrix, an integrated ICT solutions and services provider and Sage ERP X3 partner, explains that a number of recent local and international market conditions have caused instability within the industry, giving rise to a complex and changing environment.

“The current exchange rate volatility makes it very difficult to accurately forecast feed costs and prices,” he explains. “In addition, lower volumes of birds are being produced by the local poultry farming industry due to a lack of regulation around the import of chicken meat. This in turn has had a direct impact on animal feed production, with import duties and control issues causing additional difficulties.”

Further pressures include spiralling energy costs, which are showing a continuous increase above inflation levels, and labour forces demanding double figure salary increases.

“Unfortunately, feed manufacturing managers cannot control these external factors,” Koekemoer explains. “What they can – and should – however do is to focus on the internal factors that can be controlled.”

From an information systems perspective, a feed mill manager’s job covers a number of areas, including:

  • Customer order management and customer service;
  • Purchasing and raw materials receiving, production, packing and bulk outloading;
  • Inventory management;
  • Compliance, tracking and traceability;
  • Formulation, labelling and quality; and
  • Pricing, costing and quotations.

“Customer orders and service ultimately drive the feed manufacturing business. Without customers, your business will not exist. The feed industry market is highly competitive, and therefore these companies need to provide excellent customer service at all times.”

Inaccurate sales orders, incorrect sales pricing, erroneous delivery dates, as well as insufficient credit management, are all typical issues that have a direct impact on customer order management and customer service.

Adds Koekemoer: “On the other hand, for customers to get what they want, at the best price and an acceptable quality on time, it is crucial to ensure that the procurement and receiving of raw materials, the planning and execution of production, as well as the loading and dispatching of feed, are all properly managed.”

He explains that inventory is probably the single biggest working capital investment of any feed mill. “Physical inventory and the inventory management systems are frequently the areas most affected by ineffective management. An organisation can have the best customer service and a cutting edge formulation system, but without the correct inventory, it will reach a dead end.”

Here, challenges such as the improper management of stock levels, expired stock due to inefficient stock rotation, unacceptable valuation and quantity variance issues, and inaccurate stock valuations can all be caused by a lack of inventory management.

“An increasing challenge over the past few years has been the recall of pet food due to contaminated raw materials. The real question here is, what do you recall if you can’t trace the problem? With a proper tracking and traceability system, the process for locating the problematic products and issuing a recall warning is much easier.”

The biggest procurement, receiving, production and bulk outloading concern is that users are reluctant to maintain lot numbers at the receiving point of raw materials. Either existing systems do not have lot number functionality, management does not realise the importance of lot control, or the existing system can handle lot numbers, but batching and “loadout” systems don’t have the ability to handle lot numbers. At the same time, lot numbers that are automatically applied according to a “first-in-first-out” principle, but are not verified, can lead to a situation where system-generated lot numbers differ from physical lot numbers, with no access to recall information.

Feed formulation is driven by required formula specifications and the actual nutritional value of raw materials. Inaccurate information on raw material nutritional values can be catastrophic, as the end result will be a formula that is completely out of specification.

One step that can be taken to support feed mill managers in the day-to-day management of their businesses is to implement a reliable Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, with reporting tools that can provide real time information for quick decision making.

“A quality information system can play a pivotal role in the formulation process,” says Koekemoer. “The actual raw material nutritional values are recorded and passed through to the formulation system, which guarantees an accurate basis of formulation. An analysis of the feed will then ensure that it complies with the required specifications.”

Labelling, or tagging, is a legal requirement of Act 36 of 1947, and it is good practice that both packed and bulk products are accompanied by a tag that states the product, packing, feeding instructions, additive warnings and manufacturer information. Non-compliance exposes the feed manufacturer to legal actions.

Pricing plays a key role in the retention of customers within the feed industry and the sustaining of profit margins. On the other hand, accurate costing will also contribute towards more precise profitability.

The biggest challenges in this area include delays in price increases and decreases, a lack of visibility around process recoveries, such as pelleting and bagging, meaning that they cannot be posted to the general ledger automatically, and non-existent pricing per item, price lists per customer, price letters and quotations. In addition, cumbersome, manual quotations and overhead costs not reflected in inventory valuation can also be problematic.

“The consequence of not tackling the challenges outlined above can be disastrous for an animal feed manufacturer,” Koekemoer concludes. “However, by timeously addressing these issues, organisations stand to gain a number of benefits, including high customer satisfaction and retention, lower costs and stock losses, improved margins and smoother operations. They will also enhance governance and compliance levels, and eliminate brand erosion.”

Calitz to attempt Guinness World Record on Table Mountain

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

He set a new course record in 2012. Then, he set another in 2013 when he ascended more than the height of Mt Everest – from sea level – in 11 hours. Now K-Way athlete AJ Calitz is going for a bigger record; the Guinness World Record for ‘Greatest vertical height climbing stairs in 12 hours’. In April, Calitz will attempt to run up Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge more than 14 times during the 2014 edition of the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge.

The annual K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge (PCC), a tough chellenge that is fast achieving cult-like status, sees individual and team participants ascending Table Mountain’s popular Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. They descend via the cableway, return to the bottom of the Gorge and attempt to complete as many 5.5-kilometre loops as possible between sunrise and sunset. It is a very steep and challenging 2.1-kilometre climb up 800 double-size steps that ascends 760 metres from bottom to top.

After a few laps, participants are increasingly thankful for the event’s partnership with the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway for the opportunity to rest their legs on the scenic and speedy ride back down.

Calitz holds the record, which he set last year, for the most number of ascents in the 11-hour duration of the race. His 12 summits add up to an accumulative 9,120 metres of climb – that’s almost 300-metres higher than Mt Everest from sea level to summit!

This Guinness World Record attempt falls under the category of “Greatest vertical height climbing stairs in 12 hours”. The current record of 10,060 metres is held by Chris Solarz (USA). He repeatedly climbed 48 flights of stairs of the Three Logan Place building in Philadelphia in June 2011.

As the record is all about accumulated climb, Calitz will ascend Platteklip, run from the top of the Gorge to the cable station, take the cable car down and then bundle into a waiting car, which will take him swiftly to the bottom of the Gorge for his next ascent. He is aiming for at least 14 ascents, which will better the existing record.

Even though the cable car trip down takes only a few minutes Calitz has learned from past experience the value of keeping warm. He has a K-Way jacket stashed in the cable car to quickly pull on for the chilly descent. It should then take him less than two minutes to run from the cable station to the waiting vehicle.

“Driving from the cableway to the start of Platteklip, instead of running, will save me at least five or six minutes per lap and I’ve got the chance to relax and feed properly in the car,” Calitz explains.

“The ride also gives me the chance to recover mentally for the next one. When you’ve completed a lap or two and know you have another 13 to go… this time to relax is important.”

Supportive family, friends and sponsors will be there to cheer him up the mountain – again, again and again.

“K-Way gear has been worn to the top of countless mountains, including Kilimanjaro and Everest. It has been to some of the most inhospitable places in Africa, on the back of Kingsley Holgate. But we haven’t been involved in a World Record attempt – yet,” says Nick Bennett, head of marketing for the K-Way brand.

“AJ just keeps getting stronger and faster; we’ll be with him every step of the way.”

The K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge has supported Sinenjongo High School since 2012. The event raises funds through donations, which are linked to runner profiles from the ‘Sponsor’ tab on the event website. Sinenjongo is located in the impoverished community of Joe Slovo Park, in the Cape Town suburb of Milnerton. The community has a high rate of unemployment and is home to a large number of child-headed households.

Funding from sponsors together with contributions raised through PCC provides salaries for additional English, maths and science teachers as well as a part-time social worker. These people are role models and mentors to the existing teachers as well as the students. The school is a beacon of hope for this community. Teachers show up for school, parents attend school meetings and children are proud to be learning at Sinenjongo.

The K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge starts at 07h00 on Saturday, 5 April 2014. You can get involved in this event by entering as an individual runner or recruiting friends and colleagues to make a team of 2 or 3 people. If running is not your thing, cheer for the Challenge participants as they race along Tafelberg Road and sponsor a runner through the event website at www.charitychallenge.co.za.

 

London calling for South Africa’s Stanchion Payment Solutions

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

In a further move to fulfil international demand for its products and services, South African payment solutions provider Stanchion Payment Solutions (www.stanchionpayments.com) has opened a European regional office based in London. The company’s entry into the European financial services technology sector follows a year after the opening of a Middle East and North Africa regional office, based out of Dubai, in March 2013.

Stanchion is a specialist company trusted to implement, manage and enhance payment systems and solutions in complex environments for banks, retailers, payment processors and payment system vendors.

Stanchion CEO Graham Williams says the latest development is a milestone in exporting proven South African payments technology and services globally. “This new office heralds Stanchion’s arrival in Europe, where research has shown there to be many viable markets and demand for our payments software, services, and solutions. Our operations now span the full extent of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).”

Heading the European office is Charlie McIver, who brings 15 years of payments industry experience to Stanchion, including a decade at S1 Corporation (since acquired by ACI) where he served as Vice President for Operations, initially for Europe and the Middle East, and subsequently for North America.

“These are exciting times for Stanchion, which offers a proven track record for trustworthy payment products, solutions and professional services, at a highly competitive cost thanks to the capability of the development team located in South Africa,” McIver says. “I’m very excited to join a great team and excited by the opportunity and challenge for Stanchion in Europe,” he adds.

McIver notes an abundance of opportunity not only in the UK, but right across Europe: “European bank processors and retailers are currently experiencing a period of significant disruption thanks to the introduction of new technology platforms, a high level of M&A activity and continued regulation. We are also seeing increased cross-border and systems consolidation programs which drive interesting technology project opportunities for us.”

The UK is a strong market for payments technology providers, but McIver also cites major opportunities in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Poland, all of which can be effectively served from Stanchion’s new London based office. “Our approach is to form long term strategic partnerships with our payments processing customers. We look to help them improve efficiency in current operations, to develop innovative strategies, introduce new ideas and technologies, as well providing them with highly capable outsourced skills to deliver these initiatives. Stanchion’s balance of local and South African based expertise is a proven and cost-effective model, and with a track record of over a decade, Stanchion clients know they are in good hands. I think customers will welcome our refreshing approach!”

McIver also hints at future expansion in North America: “The London office also allows Stanchion to position itself deftly in response to increasing demand we are seeing from US & Canadian customers. We’ll be watching this market to see when a US presence makes sense.”

IBM Supports Economic Growth Opportunities in South Africa

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Durban is one of 3 cities picked in Africa for IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge Grant

Durban has been awarded an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, valued at USD $500,000 is to fund consultations with IBM experts and senior consultants. The IBM consultants will work with the city leadership to develop a skills development roadmap aligned to eThekwini’s economic development and job creation plan.

“The eThekwini Municipality is looking forward to working with the team of Executives from IBM, exploring ways to improve the city’s skills base and increase economic opportunities in the city.” says eThekwini Municipality Mayor Nxumalo.

Durban is one of only three African cities to receive this grant and one of only 16 cities around the world to qualify and receive the highly prized three-week engagement. Nxumalo said eThekwini municipal-ity would focus its efforts on boosting economic development.

For this consultative engagement, the IBM team will invest months studying aspects of and best case practice of skills development and economic development. Then they will spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analysing all relevant data, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities. In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the causes and potential solutions to the challenge facing the eThekwini Municipality leadership. At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for solving the problem, followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation.

The team, who will arrive in South Africa later this year, will comprise of IBMers who hail from all over the world, and who offer diverse perspectives and skills. The team typically will include skills across in the areas of marketing, communications, technology, research and development, government, human resources, finance, business, legal matters and specific disciplines such as transportation, energy and health.

“This is a significant investment to support the City in its aspirations to be a Smart City. We believe that by providing critical thinking and solutions beyond technology we can support the development goals particularly around economic development and poverty alleviation.” said Abraham Thomas, Country General Manager of IBM South Africa. “The efforts of our international colleagues will also compliment the Smarter Cities work we currently have underway with several cities and metros in South Africa.

Smarter Cities Challenge was originally conceived in 2011 as a three-year grant program, but highly positive feedback and effective results have encouraged IBM to extend the initiative. In its first three years, IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge deployed 600 experts on six-person teams who provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities.

Previous grant recipients have implemented IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations and tangibly improved the lives of their citizens including Townsville, Australia which is reducing its water and energy costs. Its efforts have earned it that country’s prestigious National Smart Infrastructure Award. And the City of Tshwane used its grant to understand how it could reduce non-revenue water by as much as 25%

Smarter Cities Challenge grants have been awarded to 116 cities out 500 applicants over the last three years. Successful applications propose projects designed to address high priority problems of critical importance to citizens. The city or region must be able to share detailed information to help the IBM team analyze the issue. Leaders must also guarantee face-to-face access to city, regional, civic and business stakeholders for interviews with IBM team members so that they may comprehensively assess a given problem and recommend solutions.

Other cities and regions that have been awarded the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014 include Abuja, Nigeria: Ballarat, Australia: Baton Rouge, United States: Birmingham, United States ; Brussels, Belgium: Dallas, United States: Dublin, Ireland: Durban, Jinan, China: Mombasa County, Kenya; Niigata, Japan ; Perth, Australia; Suffolk County, United States; Tainan, Taiwan ; Vilnius, Lithuania and Zapopan, Mexico.

 

 

T-Systems restructures minority shareholding, appoints new board members as part of strategic transformation

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

As part of its strategy of accelerated transformation and localisation, T-Systems in South Africa has announced the restructuring of its minority shareholding in line with the Codes of Good Practice. In addition, far-reaching changes to the Board will further drive transformation in line with the company’s aim of both internal and external nation building.

To enable inclusive minority shareholding, the company has re-purchased its 30% shareholding from the minority partners. African Renaissance Holdings (ARH) was the senior partner and had a long-standing and successful relationship with T-Systems South Africa since 2001. “We are grateful to ARH for their partnership on several areas of transformation and business development during this period and we are exploring alternative opportunities where the relationship will be different in future” says Gert Schoonbee, MD of T-Systems South Africa.

The 30% shareholding is now distributed through a more broad-based scheme to black employees and also to benefit communities. The scheme is performance based and reserves 10% for black females and 10% for black males. The 10% shareholding to the Community Trust is to ensure that some of the value added to T-Systems is always ploughed back to the community with a specific focus on education. Current education initiatives include the ICT Academy, the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre and the Internship Programme.

As part of the shareholder restructuring, the Board of T-Systems in South Africa has also been addressed to ensure alignment with the company’s transformation journey. Maphum Nxumalo and Gert Schoonbee have been appointed as Executive Directors, together with Khangekile Simelane as Independent Non-Executive Director, Mpho Letlape, Georg Heil and Mardia van der Walt-Korsten as Non-Executive Directors for a three-year term, effective from 1 February 2014.

As a South African-led and staffed company that forms part of a globally renowned IT services group, T-Systems in South Africa combines the ingenuity and commitment of local employees with the technology and international best practice of majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom. The company’s aim is to deliver “ICT that works”, both for customers and the country as a whole, and to achieve this, T-Systems launched a comprehensive nation building change programme to transform itself and the country for the better. The theme for 2014 is “Transformation through Innovation” and the aim is to build on this new platform that is created with new employee shareholding.

“Since our first investment into South Africa more than 16 years ago, we have re-invested 100% of our local profits into the country in line with our policy to grow the business. With the additional impetus of the new board members, we look forward to harnessing South African ingenuity and leveraging the technology, innovation and best practice of T-Systems and Deutsche Telekom to deliver services which grow public and private sector capacity,” says Schoonbee.

 

 

T-Systems’ subsidiary Intervate is an official Yammer partner in South Africa

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Intervate, a T-Systems subsidiary in South Africa and the country’s foremost provider of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions, has announced that it is an official Yammer partner in South Africa and therefore, part of the Yammer Customer Engagement Partner Program (YCEPP), which is an invite-only programme by Yammer that enables partners to sell, implement and integrate Yammer solutions for South African businesses.

Yammer is a leading social enterprise network that allows for private communication within organisations. Intervate has become one of only two South African companies officially equipped with the know-how to consult on and implement this social technology and provide support to businesses as they set-up their social enterprise networks.

Nanette de Villiers, Intervate Technology Consultant and Yammer Certified Community Manager, commented: “Intervate understands the value of enterprise social networking which is to improve communication and collaboration within organisations. Partnering with Yammer means that we can provide our customers with the benefit of the planning, consulting and implementation collateral within the Yammer Customer Engagement Partner Program. The program includes methodologies such as the ‘social journey’ which are tried and tested approaches and solutions for enterprises to make the most of their enterprise social networking experience and journey.

“Being selected by Microsoft to partner with Yammer and complete the YCEPP training and certification means that Intervate is proficient in the Yammer space. Furthermore, we can engage with customers and present them with an end-to-end enterprise social experience, enhance collaboration across geographies and roles, break down silos and improve productivity in our clients’ businesses.”

To learn more, please visit: https://about.yammer.com/partners/.

Gilat Satcom’s CEO appointed as WIOCC board member

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Gilat Satcom, a leading provider of satellite and fibre-based connectivity services in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, today announced that its CEO, Dan Zajicek, has been appointed to the board of multi-award-winning Africa’s carriers’ carrier, WIOCC.

Gilat Satcom Nigeria, a subsidiary of Gilat Satcom, was a founding shareholder in WIOCC, and it has always held a board-level position. The involvement of Gilat Satcom’s CEO and the company’s continuing investment in WIOCC reflects the ever-increasing demand from its customers for high-speed fibre connectivity in Africa.

Formed in 2007 and operating exclusively as a wholesaler, WIOCC is Africa’s carriers’ carrier utilizing more than 50,000km of terrestrial fibre to and from more than 400 locations across 30 Africa countries. It has a number of strategic investments in submarine cables, including EASSy, EIG and WACS.

Dan Zajicek, CEO of Gilat Satcom, said “Providing broadband connectivity over fibre in Africa is now the fastest-growing part of our business and compliments our traditional satellite business. WIOCC has changed the face of telecoms in Africa; its fibre network enables us to provide operators and enterprises with reliable, affordable connectivity across the continent”.

Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC said “Gilat Satcom is a dynamic and innovative company which is constantly looking for ways to improve broadband services in Africa. We welcome Dan onboard and know that his experience and expertise will be a valuable asset for our team.”

Gijima’s turnaround strategy shows solid traction

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

JSE-listed South African information and communication technology company Gijima’s turnaround strategy has shown significant progress, CEO Eileen Wilton said at the announcement of Gijima’s 2013 interim financial results.

Gijima has restored profitability, with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) showing a positive result of R2,7 million, from a reported loss of R100 million in the comparative period up to 31 December 2012. Wilton said this was despite continued pressure on top-line performance, resulting in a 19% drop in revenue, because of a tough market, the full impact of the expiry of two contracts from FY 2012, and certain customer delays in awarding contracts. No dividend has been declared for the period under review.

Wilton said that in the last 12 months Gijima has concluded contract renewals, in some cases with increased scope, to the value of R1,6 billion, thereby renewing more than a third of our annual annuity base. “This is an important indication that our continued efforts to attract and retain significant clients, even in a strong competitive environment, are demonstrating Gijima’s ability to provide service-delivery excellence.

“The quality of clients that Gijima has – including 14 of the top 25 JSE-listed companies – is evidence that Gijima remains a relevant and key player in the ICT industry in Southern Africa,” she said.

The company’s efficiency drive resulted in targeted savings of approximately R200 million per annum, without exceeding the industry norms in terms of staff turnover. Overhead support-structure cost savings, together with a focus on delivery efficiency, delivered significant and sustainable savings.

Lower finance charges were incurred for the period due to debenture redemptions of R 45 million in December 2012 together with higher interest rates on cash balances. Further debenture redemptions of R 24 million were made in August and November 2013.

Currency translation differences from the unwinding of foreign operations resulted in the reduction of the effective tax credit to 10%.

The reduction of the cash balances at 31 December 2013 to R124 million, from R199 million at 30 June 2013, were partly as a result of senior debenture repayments of R24 million.

The Systems Engineering division houses the company’s various project environments, including custom and packaged application solutions, as well as infrastructure projects.

The division experienced a disappointing six months, ending the period 38% down on revenue compared to December 2012. The division’s earnings before interest and tax improved by R100 million compared to the previous period, but still incurred a R30 million loss, mainly as a result of reduced revenues.

The Services division is responsible for the outsourcing and applications support businesses which include field operations for end-user computing, an integrated services centre and support and maintenance of business’ applications. Revenue for the division was 13% lower than the comparative period, predominantly as a result of the full effect of the expiry of two major contracts during the second half of 2012. Profit however doubled, to R17 million, as a result of efficiency programmes taking hold.

The Specialised Solutions division, including the training and placement business, voice business (with Gijima partner NEC) and the Namibian operation, disclosed performance levels below expectations. Revenue was down 24% compared to December 2012. The training and placement business as well as the voice business reported an improved revenue performance, although margins came under pressure in both areas. Our Namibian operation disappointed, falling short of budget and the previous year’s performance for both revenue and profitability due to potential legislative changes.

The targeted 70:30 split of business between Private and Public Sector remains a key objective. The Public Sector business remained at 35% for the period ended 31 December 2013.

The management and board have, since June 2012, been involved in constantly improving the company. The board committed then to ensuring timeous filling of critical positions, and on 10th October 2013 announced the permanent appointment of the acting CEO, Eileen Wilton, as well as the appointment of Ernst Röth as the permanent CFO, with effect from 1st April 2014.

Announcements will be made in the near future regarding the Chief Sales Officer, who joins Gijima on 1st May 2014. Further critical appointments at the Operating Committee (Opco) level are in place. This is confirmation of Gijima’s commitment to inject new leadership into the business and to structure it for growth and profitability, said Wilton.

“Strategic decisions taken in 2013 now show the company is forging its way back on track as it continues to build on its service delivery excellence. New markets are being explored, specifically in Africa and among state-owned entities, and these efforts are beginning to show traction.

“The turnaround strategy is therefore showing significant progress in terms of cost reduction and a return to profitability,” Wilton said.

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