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Innovation: SA’s next step to the cloud

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South Africa’s familiarity with cloud technology is on the rise, and despite sluggish early adoption there’s a renewed focus on innovation.
Quinton Pienaar, CEO of Agilitude a Salesforce.com and Zuora reseller, identifies two major current activities in cloud migration: “The first is obviously the increased migration to cloud and the second is the on cloud value a customer can get. We are definitely seeing many customers move into the on-cloud era looking for new ways to innovate and find value from their migration to the cloud.”
In the drive towards innovation and agility, cloud is ushering in an era where companies begin de-invest in operational services, something which Pienaar expects will continue as teams are freed of maintenance tasks to focus on delivering business value. “Instead of worrying about infrastructure and technology, business technology teams can focus on building business solutions that solve business issues.”
While concerns over job losses persist in some areas Pienaar says the converse is true in that jobs are simply transforming as customer teams migrate from maintenance tasks to forward-looking innovation type activities.
As South African businesses begin to recognise the benefits of cloud technology, the country is finally managing to catch up to global peers as local perceptions mature and evolve. “The United States and Europe see cloud as a business advantage and way to produce higher value in a shorter space of time while reducing risk,” explains Pienaar. “They do not see cloud as a cost advantage but as a way to disrupt markets and grow their companies. South African companies are lagging behind this trend but we are seeing some that are starting to show change.”
Challenges notwithstanding, the local cloud market is showing positive signs of growth with local small to medium-sized enterprises adopting cloud in considerable numbers, attracted by a greater diversity of solutions tailored to suit specific requirements and budgets. Pienaar notes the popularity of cloud services is especially evident in productivity suits, CRM, and real-time accounting services, adding, “There are numerous small companies that have no IT and run their business on the cloud. They were able to get up and running within days and invest in similar technologies used by larger companies and effectively compete.”
Cloud technologies like Sales Force Service Cloud allow for the ability to provide superior customer service across every channel, connecting to customers on their terms and effectively modernising contact centres. It is customisable and scalable for both large enterprises and growing start-ups that need a support solution overnight.
Pienaar says that cloud innovation allow for service managers to connect with employees like never before – staying up to date with agent productivity and customer satisfaction from any location. Service and support personnel can achieve more first call resolutions, better maintain SLAs and increase customer satisfaction at a fraction of the cost. “There are numerous advantages this connected world of device, customer, employee and partners can offer a business. The ability to leverage cloud technology to innovate is the next frontier,” concludes Pienaar.