Archive for Marzec, 2014

Virtual projects, virtual teams and the associated trade-offs

By admin, 19 marca, 2014, No Comment

By Yolandi Nortje, executive of Intuate Group

Today, an increasing number of projects involve team members from multiple locations; across cities, provinces, the country or even the world. Many organisations are using virtual teams in place of face-to-face teams not for logistics reasons, but rather for financial ones. Companies are being seduced by a plethora of online meeting and collaboration tools, lulling them into the belief that there are only cost savings to be had without any other trade-offs, effectively discounting the value of face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder efforts.

In this climate, many project managers (PMs) may now be managing projects where they rarely, if ever, interact face-to face-with their team. While the telephone, email and collaboration tools are critical means of communication in these instances, they are only tools. The PM will still need to proactively manage the distant team members.

With virtual projects come virtual teams and the associated trade-offs. The question that this raises is simply: Do the challenges of virtual teams outweigh the benefits?

A 2010 virtual teams survey report carried out by RW3 Culture Wizards, entitled “The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams”, revealed that 46 percent of the 600 respondents never met other virtual team members face to face, and only 30 percent met only once a year.

Respondents found virtual teams more challenging than face‐to‐face teams in managing conflict (73 percent), making decisions (69 percent), and expressing opinions (64 percent). They also stated that delivering quality output (48 percent) and generating innovative ideas (47 percent) were more challenging in a virtual environment. The greatest personal challenges respondents faced were inability to read non‐verbal cues (94 percent), absence of collegiality (85 percent), difficulty establishing rapport and trust (81 percent), difficulty seeing the whole picture (77 percent), reliance on email and telephone (68 percent), and a sense of isolation (66 percent). Whilst there has not been such an extensive or comprehensive survey on this topic undertaken in South Africa, it is a safe assumption that much of the challenges cited in this report are reflected in this country.

That being said, while there are advantages to virtual teams that go beyond merely saving money on travel, there are also trade-offs, and they each carry their own advantages and disadvantages, which need to be weighed against each other:

Time – Whilst travel time is reduced, virtual projects often experience an increased time to solution, due to the lack of the chemistry that fuels innovation and breakthroughs that occurs more often when people work face-to-face.

Productivity –Reduced productivity can occur in virtual teams due to the disconnections that develop between teammates, the lack of chemistry and a dearth of trust building encounters; however team members don’t lose time to travel and can use that time for more productive endeavours.

Space – Whilst an organisation may experience cost savings due to lack of the requisite formal office space and infrastructure to conduct work sessions, poor work habits and focus may develop due to its absence.

Flexibility – Working in a virtual team means that different time zones and other conflicting schedules can be accommodated, albeit with coordination lag times.

Physical locations and people – When team members are spread across the country or across the globe, productivity and time to completion may be reduced because of the detachment that accompanies distant work relationships; however it does allow for the inclusion of people in projects that might not have been able to participate when required to work face to face – getting the right person for the job involved, regardless of their location. In the RW3 Culture Wizards survey, when respondents ranked the most important characteristics of a good virtual teammate, they graded willingness to share information as first, being proactively engaged second, and the ability to be collaborative as third.

Motivation – Self-motivated, self-directed team members can do well in virtual projects, whereas the non-self-motivated, those needing more direction and structure, tend to be ineffective.

Work processes and supervision – Working in a virtual team allows for more creativity on how to structure work processes, however the risks of having inconsistent work processes that reduce overall project success also increase. To mitigate this, careful supervision is required from the project manager to ensure that clear work processes and goals are defined.

Culture – Whilst virtual teams allow people from a wide array of cultures and societies to work together across wide distances, it is important that the proper frameworks that are inherent in fostering trust, understanding and empathy amongst diverse groups are provided.

The growing importance of global collaboration, is translating into the growth of the virtual project and the virtual team. Overall it is easy to see that virtual teams represent unique challenges to the productivity of organisations and individuals that need to be given careful consideration before adopting the approach for any given project. There is no one right approach that fits all situations. However it is clear that virtual teamwork is different and requires specific training, tactics, and support. Furthermore, today’s project manager needs to develop specific competencies to structure and manage virtual teams, which are increasingly comprising of people from different cultures, with different work styles, and who come online at different times of the 24‐hour work cycle.

Success in using virtual teams requires discipline and appreciation for the dynamics and trade-offs that are in play. So, what steps can be taken to ensure a virtual team’s success?

According to Michael R. Wood, creator of the business process-improvement methodology, HELIX, and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, it is important to conduct a face-to-face kick-off, even if the project is going to be conducted with 100 percent virtual teams. This allows the team members to meet, establish rapport and hopefully some trust.

Since virtual teams collaborate in the cloud, it is important to provide them with the tools needed to facilitate productive work sessions and meetings. The good news is there is a wealth of great tools out there, ranging from video conferencing, shared workspaces and repository portals. It is imperative that these tools be provided to the entire team with the proper technologies and infrastructures in place to use them. Modern project portfolio management tools are tremendously powerful, but they are only as good as the people using them and the data that they contain. If people don’t understand how to use the tools effectively, then they quickly become additional barriers to communication.

Since the team will be geographically dispersed, it is important that each team member be as self-reliant, self-motivated and self-directed as possible and do well working alone or in a small local group. The project manager needs to be deft at sensing when motivation, momentum and productivity are waning, and equally deft at reigniting people’s passion for the project. When teams are geographically dispersed, it becomes easier to play the blame game because people are not always able to defend themselves and personal relationships aren’t always as strong. This never helps the project to deliver and must be avoided at all costs.

With a multicultural team, albeit ethnically or organisationally, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate the team members about specific differences and nuances of the cultures involved. This will help the team to build rapport, trust and respect. However, where possible, teams need to speak the same language as much as possible if communications are to be effective. Requiring a team to be proficient in multiple languages or requiring the use of interpreters can hamper a project on many levels. While it may not be possible to perform a global project in one language, it can really help.

From the outset, it is vital that all team members feel that they are a part of a team of equals, all of whom are needed for the project to succeed. By keeping people focused on working together to produce a tangible work product, you increase the level of engagement and reinforce the notion that working together produces results.

Finally it is important to keep the number of simultaneous project assignments to a minimum. This is true for all projects, but especially true for virtual ones. As the number of projects a person is assigned to increases, their ability to do justice to any one project decreases.

The list of recommendations and advice is endless on this topic, but the theme is clear: whilst virtual teams are not as attractive and effective as teams that get to work face to face, they are an increasing reality and in some cases a necessity. They can be successful, but care must be taken, and the right project manager put in place.

Solving the broadband challenge to leverage full Cloud advantage

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

By Paul Fick, Chief Technology Officer, the Jasco Group 

According to Ovum Research, next-generation broadband and Cloud-based ICT services are two of the top emerging trends in the telecoms, media and technology space. These two trends are intrinsically interlinked, as the Cloud requires fast, efficient and available bandwidth in order to deliver services and enable organisations of all sizes to leverage its many advantages. Therefore, delivering next-generation bandwidth, which offers improved speeds and higher quality essential for the Cloud, is a critical challenge in enabling the delivery of effective Cloud-based ICT in South Africa and the African continent.

With terrestrial infrastructure not widely available in emerging markets across Africa, adoption of fixed-line services has been limited, which in turn has limited the availability of services and solutions, like the Cloud, which require connectivity. As a result, mobile technologies have seen massive uptake in these markets, where the number of mobile devices exceeds the number of people in many instances. It is therefore a logical next step from mobile phones to mobile broadband, and the next evolution of mobile broadband will open up the market dramatically.

Paul Fick, Chief Technology Officer

Paul Fick

In South Africa, the move towards Cloud-based ICT has been steadily gaining traction, and mobility, along with the Cloud, are two of the hottest topics currently. While many consumer services already exist in the Cloud, it is only with the increased availability and quality of bandwidth that businesses have begun to take steps. In the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) market, adoption has been significant, as the benefits such as a pay-per-use model and the removal of the necessity to own infrastructure have outweighed many of the problems around unstable access. Even in the corporate space, as mobility becomes more important and the mind-set changes from premises-based to the ability to work remotely from anywhere, these are increasing the pressure to make the move into the Cloud.

There is no doubt that Cloud-based ICT is the future and is set to experience dramatic growth the world over. However, the delivery of next-generation bandwidth is critical to the widespread business adoption of cloud services, as fast, reliable and ubiquitous broadband services are essential in ensuring the required levels of uptime for corporates and large enterprise. Service providers wishing to capitalise on the move into next-generation broadband should take heed of a number of pointers.

The delivery of next-generation broadband requires an alignment with government. Government currently regulates the entire telecommunications space, and until such time as this market becomes further deregulated, large-scale adoption can only be delivered in partnership. It is also necessary to embrace wireless as a means for delivering broadband technologies. The terrestrial infrastructure in South Africa, and throughout Africa, is not sufficient to cater to explosive demand, and the delivery of next-generation broadband will more than likely be driven through wireless technology rather than fixed lines like copper or fibre. This will also further drive the trend of network sharing, where infrastructure is ‘rented out’ to service providers on a per use basis, creating wider network coverage for consumers while minimising the cost to service providers.

As the number of connected devices grows, we are beginning to experience a phenomenon known as ‘the Internet of things’ or ‘the Internet of everything’, where practically every device has an IP address, is connected to the Internet, and is capable of transmitting and receiving data. This is creating additional traffic, further fuelling the drive towards next-generation broadband. The move towards next-generation broadband will not only drive further and more widespread adoption of new services, including the Cloud, it will also require innovative data pricing plans to encourage usage from consumers, and the provision of content to drive traffic. As broadband becomes increasingly ubiquitous, driving increased traffic is key in creating additional revenue. Content services delivered by mobile providers, as well as innovative solutions to deliver a variety of content and services, will be key.

With the country, and the continent, positioned for a move into the Cloud, the market is changing from one in which organisations purchase solutions and physical infrastructure, to one in which they purchase services, delivered via the Cloud to any device. While there will always be a need for infrastructure, for the majority of enterprises of all sizes, the Cloud is a more affordable, viable and cost-effective option. There is a huge opportunity for providers to shift their focus from delivering tools and software to offering solutions and services, along with expertise. The market is changing, and both carriers and ICT service providers need to align with this shift if they are to remain relevant, profitable and competitive into the future.

In4Group launching new product at the 5th IT Leaders Africa Summit

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

Kinetic is delighted to announce that In4Group will be launching their new product at the 5th IT Leaders Africa Summit which takes place on the 18th & 19th of March at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton. In this respect, they had the following to say:

“We have all heard the horror stories of simple mistakes that lead to costly business disasters. It seems like every day on the news we hear about the next recall or outage that leads to the need for public relations to clean up the mess. More often than not, the damage is too great to overcome and that company which suffered the IT disaster is unable to recover.

Planning for the unknown and unlikely can be difficult but having enough funds to implement an IT disaster recovery plan can seem close to impossible. Often companies are faced with more pressing issues to their business than something that may or may not happen, or so they think, which is why we hear about these stories on the news quite frequently. But how unlikely is it that an IT disaster could happen to your company? With the combination of natural disasters, hardware failures and human error, the reality is that data loss is only a matter of when, not if.

According to a NFIB National Small Business Poll, man-made disasters affect 10% of all small businesses and a staggering 30% have been impacted by natural disasters. A simple power outage could put your whole business at risk. In fact, research by the University of Texas has shown that only 6 percent of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss survive, 43 percent never reopen and 51 percent close within 2 years.

Gartner estimates that two out of five businesses that experience disaster will go out of business in five years. “Enterprises can improve those odds – but only if they take necessary measures before and after the disaster” – Source Gartner Inc.

The key to the successful recovery of your business will be determined by how prepared you are today.

The fact is, too many companies don’t protect their data. They may say it’s too complicated or too expensive. And they let it slide…hoping that at the end of the day, they still have the data with which they started.

Even if they back up their data, a lot of companies find getting it back can be problematic: fewer than one-third of companies with a disaster recovery plan have ever bothered testing it to make sure it still works.
What would happen if one day all your business data was gone? Unforeseeable events such as fires, hardware failures or theft happen every day to businesses. The key to a successful recovery will be determined by how prepared you are today.

Ever increasing cost pressures has put major strains on organizations IT budgets and more and more business have put their operations at risk by not investing into disaster recover solutions. Hence affordable and reliable DR solutions that fit the business needs are need of the hours.

In4Group’s DR in a Box makes disaster planning, recovery and backing up of your valuable business data easy. Different from a standard file backup, the Disaster Recovery Solution backs up a mirror image of your entire computer/server, including the operating system and software.

Standard file backups can take days to rebuild and could be incomplete, but with an image backup the recovery takes only hours and is 100% complete. Our DR in a Box leverages on cutting edge Forge Platespin technology from NetIQ; hosted on scalable; state-of-the-art infrastructure from Atrust and powered by The Cloud Company.

In4Group launches this break through concept called “DR in a Box” at the IT Leaders Africa Summit; which is sure to redefine the Disaster Recover and Business Continuity planning market place by make the solutions more affordable and reliable to clients in the medium to small market segments. ”

For the latest ITLA Summit news on speakers, industry providers and content, visit http://itleaders.co.za/ or contact Marcia van Jaarsveld on +27 21 555 0866+27 21 555 0866 or marcia@kineticevents.net Follow @ITLeadersAfrica and @KineticEventsSA on Twitter for daily updates.

Franchising – presently contributing nearly 10% to SA’s GDP – set to increase contribution into 2014

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

The growing franchise sector, which currently contributes nearly 10% to South Africa’s GDP, is defying sluggish economic conditions and will continue to provide sustainable business opportunities for entrepreneurs into 2014 and beyond, says Standard Bank.

“We are seeing that growing local opportunities, and international operators looking to South Africa to provide a springboard for their franchise operations into Africa, are pushing increased activity in the competitive franchising sector,” says Simone Cooper, Head of Franchising and Enterprise Development at Standard Bank, when referring to ‘Franchise Factor 2012®’ research conducted by Franchize Directions for Standard Bank.*

“Although there has been an increase in the number of international brands entering the South African market, locally-born franchises still dominate,” says Ms Cooper.

“More than 88% of franchise brands in South Africa have been developed here, the majority since 1992, with the remaining 12% being accounted for by international brands. These international brands are represented primarily by quick service restaurants.

“The presence of international brands has increased by about 3.4% in the last three years as franchisors have entered South Africa with the intention of using the country as a gateway to Africa,” says Ms Cooper.

Major franchising trends in South Africa

The research also identified the following major trends impacting on the sustainability and growth of franchising in South Africa:

  • Locally developed franchises creating organic business-growth opportunities in sectors that otherwise could have become saturated. A prime example of this is the expanding presence of franchise outlets geared to food, groceries and consumer services at fuel stations. Because of regulated fuel prices and a legislative framework that controls the proliferation of fuel outlets, growth opportunities are limited.  Operating an additional franchise at a fuel station creates an additional income stream for the fuel franchisee.
  • The ability of the sector to create employment opportunities. When last measured, at least 518,266 people were employed within franchised operations. This represented an increase of an estimated 53,066 jobs in just two years.
  • Expansion into rural areas, especially those where mining activity has increased and major infrastructure projects are the focus of local activity.  Standard Bank has seen automotive, food and other franchises springing up to service the needs of the growing populations in these developing outlying areas.
  • The development of a mini-mall concept of different stores owned by the same franchisor being housed under a single roof.  A prime example of this is a major supermarket brand opening up a building supplies store and a pharmacy within a single shopping complex.
  • With working consumers becoming more ‘time starved’, there is a trend towards outsourcing services that traditionally would have been performed by individuals within the home. For instance, from an education perspective, there has been definite growth in the number of franchises offering school learners extra lessons.
  • Women owning more than 33% of all franchised businesses operating within the education and training; health, beauty and body; and real estate sectors.

Looking into Africa

“The growth of franchises in Africa has been dramatic,” says Ms Cooper, pointing out that a short three years ago, 138 franchised systems were operating on the continent – a number that increased to 182 last year. Taking advantage of gaps in various markets has seen growth in sectors ranging from automotive services, business to business services, fast food to retail operations.

Although franchises are streaming into Africa, South Africa still leads the pack of the ‘top 10 franchise countries’ on the continent. Ranked in order of their franchise appeal these countries are:

  • South Africa;
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • Botswana;
  • Kenya;
  • Zambia;
  • Tanzania;
  • Ghana;

“South African franchisors are very active with just over 32% having expanded operations into the continent. The range of franchises is very broad, being dependent on perceived consumer demand in various markets, and the growing strength of the middle class in select markets.

“The African Development Bank has estimated that 326 million people make up the middle class in Africa. The Bank estimates that African consumers will spend US$2.2 trillion on goods and services by 2030. Given that Africa is presently home to seven of the 10 fastest growing economies on the globe, continued expansion into Africa and further growth of this crucial consumer sector, can be anticipated.

“Looking forward, it can be said with confidence that franchising has a major role to play within the South African economy. The sector will continue to expand and offer significant employment prospects for thousands of South Africans. Africa, characterised by explosive growth of the middle class, will offer unrivalled future opportunities for local and internationally-based franchisors,” says Ms Cooper.

IP-based video camera systems from Duxbury Networking

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

Bolstering its portfolio of Internet Protocol (IP) based video surveillance systems, Duxbury Networking has released a new range of cameras and network video recorder (NVR) platforms from its principal, ACTi Corporation.

“The company is recognised as a technology leader,” says Andy Robb, chief technology officer at Duxbury Networking. “In addition to IP cameras, ACTi develops its own hardware- and software-based NVR platforms.”

He says a feature of the ACTi brand is its line-up of high definition (HD) 10 megapixel network cameras delivering an image resolution at least three times higher than conventional analogue CCTV cameras.

“In demanding applications, such as in point-of-sales monitoring, it’s vital to be able to identify persons or objects in a scene,” says Robb. “In these instances the HD cameras provide the ability to clearly see every item being purchased by a customer along with facial identity.”

He says the ability to combine HD and non-megapixel network cameras optimised for other needs – such as powerful optical zoom, extreme light sensitivity or low cost – is key to creating corporate-wide video surveillance networks that are effective, reliable and cost-efficient.

“Applications where a mix of cameras may be applicable include parking lot surveillance. Here there are likely to be two requirements: to indentify empty spaces, rather than individual cars in the lot and also for driver identity or license plate recording at points of entry and exit. Cost-effective coverage can be achieved with a combination of HD and non-megapixel networked cameras,” explains Robb.

ACTi IP cameras allow network designers and systems integrators to link with many third party VMS (virtual memory system) recording solutions. Alternatively, a unified ACTi solution may be specified.
All ACTi cameras – covering the one to 10 megapixel spectrum – include an image signal processor (ISP) designed and manufactured by ACTi which is compatible with many lens options. It facilitates clear, precisely focused video images, even in low light applications.

Cloudgate to end 40-year reign of the desktop PC

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

Desktop computers are a massive drain on the IT resources of most organisations. “An IT department has a primary function: to deliver applications to end-users. Everything else – security, uptime, backups, support and maintenance – are important, but secondary to the primary function,” says Jonathan Young of Cloudware. “We have become lost in the complexity of the secondary options. A new model exists to reduce that complexity.”

Cloudgate is a hand-sized device that, says Young, completely replaces the desktop as we know it for a fraction of the cost. “You simply unplug your screen, mouse and keyboard from the old PC, plug it into a Cloudgate device and you have secure access to the entire corporate Windows environment – and an Android desktop.”

The core innovation that makes this possible is Cloudware, a South African-developed application delivery solution designed specifically for low-bandwith conditions. “With Cloudware, all a company’s applications and data are managed from the data centre,” says Young. “The only thing that leaves that secure environment is a set of instructions for what to display on the screen. That means you can deliver any Windows application to any device.”

In practice, that means Cloudgate users have a single Cloudware icon on their Android desktop that gives access to all their company applications, files and data. It’s completely secure – no information from the central server can be shared across to the device, “not even by copying and pasting”, says Young. “That option can be turned on if necessary, but the default is that the two environments are entirely separate.

“We chose Android for the desktop because we found that users rejected earlier versions of thin client computing as being too restrictive,” explains Young. “It turns out that giving people a desktop replacement that’s just like their old machine, except without all the fun bits, is actually counter-productive. People need to be able to use the internet and social media, for example, and sometimes to send private emails. But now none of that activity happens on corporate servers, and nobody in the business has to support it.”

In fact, says Young, Cloudgate eliminates the need for desktop-level support and maintenance entirely. “If anything happens to the device, you just reset everything to the factory defaults and erase it,” he says. “There’s no company data on it to lose. Based on the current cost of desktop support services, that’s an instant saving of R200 to R300 a month.”

Cloudgate also draws only 10W of power, says Young, “the same as an energy-saving lightbulb. If you’re replacing an average 300W desktop, that means the power savings are almost the same as the monthly cost of the device, rendering it effectively free.

“The desktop PC has dominated the office for nearly 40 years, but it’s outlived its usefulness,” says Young. “It makes no economic or management sense to put all that processing power and storage into a standalone machine that will never run at more than a fraction of its capacity. The principal physical reason to not move everything to the data centre has been slow network connections – but Cloudware solves that problem. Within a few years, the desktop PC as we know it will seem as quaint and outdated as the typewriter.”

Teradata leads Gartner Magic Quadrant in data warehouse database management

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

With the release of its March 2014 Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems, Gartner has confirmed the place of Teradata as the dominant vendor in the emerging field of Big Data. Bytes Universal Systems, a division of Bytes Technology Group, is the sole distributor of Teradata’s products in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant provides a visual representation of research in a specific market, providing a wide-angle view of the relative positions of that market’s competitors. By applying a graphical treatment and a uniform set of evaluation criteria, a Gartner Magic Quadrant shows how well technology providers are executing against their stated vision.

“This is the 15th year that Teradata has been rated as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for data warehouse database management systems,” says Hendrik Blignaut, Enterprise Intelligence Solutions Teradata executive at Bytes Universal Systems. “Ratings such as this are important because they give objective confirmation that Teradata is continuing to outperform competitors, and provides a useful decision-making tool for clients in search of the right technology partner.”

Teradata has also received recent positive ratings in the Forrester Wave for Enterprise Data Warehouse Q4 2013, Big Data Hadoop Solutions 2014, Ovum’s Analytical Database Leaders 2013-2014 and The Information Difference Technology leadership in Data Warehousing from Q4 2013.

With more than 30 years of history in the data warehouse market, Teradata offers a combination of tuned hardware and analytics-specific database software. In its research note, Gartner observes that Teradata:

  • Continues to demonstrate its consistent ability to deliver on market trends and meet customer demand; for example, its Intelligent Memory option (Teradata IMDBMS) was delivered in 2013.
  • Clients continue to invest in its technology and innovation.
  • Continues to further support the Logical Data Warehouse with Unified Data Architecture, AsterData and Hadoop (all also offered in appliances).
  • Continues to invest in multi-structured formats such as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) or XML.

As a result, Gartner says Teradata continues to be the “point of reference” vendor in data warehousing.

Gartner explains that in 2014, traditional data warehouse vendors continue to face the challenge emerging from new processing techniques such as MapReduce/Hadoop distributions – typically referred to as Big Data solutions.

Choosing the right vendor for these solutions is a matter of some consequence, as Gartner’s research note makes clear. With the researcher indicating in August 2013 that Big Data is reaching the peak in its Hype Cycle, the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ – which can herald failed projects – looms. “This trough will act as a ‘forge’ that burns away inefficient offerings,” Gartner notes, “…the industry will see all sorts of competing architectures and strategies for addressing data management for analytics. Acquisitions and business failures among new vendors will result in two or three emerging as viable companies in analytics data management.”

“Business has understood the potential value in its data but, as always, the challenge is to deliver on that promise,” says Blignaut. “Gartner’s continued positioning of Teradata as a leader and visionary in the Magic Quadrant demonstrates to clients that it is the right partner to help them exploit the latest technologies to gain the insights, and ultimately the increased profits, hidden in their data.”

Bytes receives partner excellence recognition from Alcatel-Lucent

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

Bytes Systems Integration (SI) has once again been recognised for its partner excellence, with the company winning yet another award at the recent Alcatel-Lucent Partner Conference in Panama City, Panama.

The Alcatel-Lucent Excellence Partner Award EMEA for 2013 was awarded to Bytes SI as a way of recognising the company’s accomplishments as an Alcatel-Lucent partner.

Alcatel-Lucent is at the forefront of global communications, providing products and innovations in IP and cloud networking, as well as ultra-broadband fixed and wireless access.

According to Leslie Cawood, Bytes SI’s Alcatel-Lucent Vendor and Sales Manager, the company won the award based on a number of considerations. These included sales and services, vendor management, logistics and customer service and marketing.

“This award clearly validates the strength of the Bytes SI and Alcatel-Lucent relationship. It’s simply a tangible demonstration of the kind of trusted partnership our two organisations have,” says Cawood.

Partner excellence for Bytes SI, he adds, is built on consistently meeting the requirements of the Alcatel-Lucent business plan, as well as the training requirements and developing the requisite skill levels. In addition, the company grows the partnership by unfailingly meeting the business objectives within the relevant product lines and through consistent growth within the wireless and data space.

“An award of this nature will also give our customers even more confidence in utilising our services as an Alcatel-Lucent partner. Furthermore, this will have a knock-on effect in terms of wallet share in other business lines, as it demonstrates the trust vendors have in our skills in delivering their product lines into our own customer base.”

“We are really pleased to have received this award, as it is a definite indication that all our hard work in this arena is paying off. It is always great to be part of a winning team and, more crucially, to be recognised by our partners as such,” he concludes.

Software renewals – creating profitable revenue streams for the channel

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

By Fred Mitchell, Symantec Division Manager, Drive Control Corporation

Resellers face the challenge of decreasing margins, a highly competitive market, shrinking end user customer budgets and more. Further exacerbating this situation is instances of vendors and some distributors ‘going direct’, eroding opportunities and revenue. As such, staying ahead in the channel is becoming increasingly difficult and resellers must look towards additional revenue streams in order to remain profitable. Software renewals, particularly in the security space, offer the ideal solution to this challenge, providing channel resellers with relatively simply acquired, on-going revenue streams that can assist with profitability and customer relationships.

Security software is a vital tool in a connected world, and organisations and individuals alike recognise the critical nature of these solutions. While they are often a grudge purchase, the need to protect digital assets from cybercrime and malware is well understood, making security solutions an easier sell. However, simply dropping a software box means that resellers are missing out on an excellent opportunity to create new and profitable revenue streams. Managing the process of software renewals can offer multiple benefits to resellers to not only improve their margins, but also develop stronger relationships with customers, which in turn creates additional business in the future.

The most obvious reason for resellers to manage the licensing and renewals process for their customers is the creation of annuity revenue. It is well known that maintaining an existing customer is far easier than winning a new one, and in the case of software renewals, can create up to 40% of the revenue from previous years’ software sales with very little effort. But failing to assist customers with renewing their licenses, resellers can miss out on receiving a substantial income. By managing this process and ensuring licenses are kept up to date, resellers can harness this income while at the same time freeing up their sales team to win over new customers and improve turnover.

In addition to creating annuity income, software renewals present opportunities for both upselling and cross selling. Software licenses generally last for between one and two years, during which time technology can change dramatically. This means that the client’s IT infrastructure and architecture have in all probability evolved along with this change. Extra computers may have been added, along with additional servers, which all require protection. The current solution may no longer be the best to suit their needs, as their security needs may have changed. The renewals period is an excellent opportunity to ascertain the customer’s current and future needs to ensure the correct solution is sold, as well as presenting an opportunity to sell complementary products that will enhance existing business and security solutions.

As an extension of ensuring software licenses are up to date and that customers have the correct solutions in place, resellers can also benefit from improved customer relationships, as well as improved vendor relationships.

The right solution, up to date and optimised, will continue to protect customers’ machines and run smoothly with no hassles, assisting with maintaining the performance of their systems. Resellers can become trusted partners, to whom clients will look when they require additional technology solutions, again providing new revenue streams and additional opportunities for income.

The management of licences can become onerous from a vendor perspective, and ensuring that the licences are renewed timeously can be a challenge. Vendors are continually looking for distributors and resellers that can provide this crucial management component. Resellers that can effectively manage this process can benefit from more vendor confidence and an improved relationship.

When it comes to ensuring profitable channel and reseller business, tackling the software renewals challenge is a win-win scenario. Not only is annuity income provided, which is essentially a profitable revenue stream involving very little effort, relationships with both vendors and customers can be improved. This has knock-on benefits for a more profitable business too. Ensuring customer software licenses are up to date is a sound business strategy that will pay substantial dividends.

Digital Express doubles volume, boosts quality with Xerox

By admin, 18 marca, 2014, No Comment

Digital Express, one of Cape Town’s largest high-end commercial printers, has doubled its digital printing production volume and slashed operating costs with the purchase of a Xerox Colour 1000 digital colour press from Bytes Document Solutions and Oxbow.

“As a Xerox digital shop we’ve worked with different types of machines over the past few years, however in order to get the business where we wanted, a decision was made to overcome the volume limitations of the technology, mainly due to high ‘click costs’ compared to offset printing,” says Digital Express managing director Dale Clay.

“We also experienced issues with matching colours, specifically corporate palettes. It took several passes to get the orange hue of a particularly popular Cape Town menu to print accurately on our previous machine, and when you’re promising your customers a 24-hour turnaround, time is not your friend.”

From student walk-ins to precision printing for large corporate customers, Digital Express has grown its business more than 400 percent since opening its doors in Rondebosch, Cape Town, six years ago. Now located in the hub of Cape Town’s business district, the company needed an injection of new technology to maintain its growth trajectory.

The Xerox Colour 1000 blurs the lines between mid-volume digital printing and litho quality. A powerful engine capable of running 24×7 is supported by an integrated design that accommodates two 2,000-sheet media trays, capable of handling both lightweight and heavyweight stocks from 55-350gsm at speeds up to 100ppm. An additional two 2,000-sheet tray module can be added to extend paper capacities for a total of 8,000 sheets and four pick points that accommodate different stocks.

In addition, advanced profiling features and automated colour calibration through Xerox’s Automated Colour Quality Suite maps RGB and CMYK source images to a desired output standard, making it easier for operators to produce consistent output on any media.

Aside from the tangible benefits, Clay believes the relationship with Oxbow and Bytes Document Solutions is the real differentiator.

“We will only buy Xerox because of them,” he says. “When we started our business Oxbow and Bytes were there to help. If I have a problem I can call Oxbow and have a team on site in an hour, whether it’s 10am on a Monday or 2am on a Saturday. Our business never stops, and neither does their service.”

“It’s a symbiotic relationship between supplier and customer,” says Oxbow business development specialist Stuart Daniels. “We simplify how work gets done so customers can focus on what matters, helping them identify new business opportunities and discussing technical specifications that can help the staff configure the machines to match their needs.”

Oxbow managing director Brett Furlong concurs: “Often success in this business owes as much to the staff operating the equipment as it does the equipment itself. It’s our responsibility to ensure our customers are not only trained in every aspect of the equipment we sell them, but continue to receive support, feedback and additional training to help them grow and develop their own business opportunities.”

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