More than 100 women entrepreneurs have attended the first segment of Huawei South Africa’s Women4Tech digital skills training programme.

By the end of the programme, Huawei aims to help women headed SMMEs advance their skills and help them use new technologies to grow, improve, and digitise their businesses.

The cloud segment of the training kicked off with an introduction to cloud computing by Michael Langeveld, vice-president of Huawei Cloud Southern Africa.

“Cloud computing is simply a big company taking care of servers in one location and providing capacity as people need them,” he says.

He also explained the different types of cloud-based offerings, comparing them to the different ways people can get pizza for dinner. Traditional on-site servers are like making your own pizza from scratch at home, while Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is like buying a ready-baked pizza that you heat up in the oven at home. Conversely, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is like ordering takeout, and Software as a Services (SaaS) is like dining out, with the cloud provider taking care of everything.

As an example of how the cloud can make a difference to a business, Langeveld pointed to Malaysia’s HEXA Food, which uses AI to quickly and accurately identify the quality of chilies on its production line and intelligently distinguishes the good chilies from the bad, improving the production efficiency and quality of the spices. This Intelligent AI-powered sorting eliminates errors in manual sorting and improves efficiency by 50%.

Day two of the programme was led by George Thomas, MD of Huawei Cloud Southern Africa, who spoke on the application of cloud services.

“You can leverage cloud-based business solutions to grow your businesses, be relevant to your customers and ensure long term sustainable growth,” he told attendees.

When it comes to taking a cloud-first approach to business, he recommends that entrepreneurs do their homework first.

“There are key commercial considerations when adopting cloud services including optimisation, scheduling, automation, network costs, impact on managed services as well as training and enablement,” he said.

Thomas added that when these considerations are properly taken into account, entrepreneurs can reap serious benefits.

“Taking a cloud-first approach while leveraging the benefits of cloud brings numerous technical and business benefits compared to traditional infrastructure or local hosting,” he said. “It is a different business model that meets your exact business needs and scales with your business.”

Ideally, he added, any entrepreneur looking to leverage the cloud should, “start with a partner who is willing to handhold them throughout their digital transformation journey.”

Wrapping up the cloud segment of the programme was Khan Sheik, senior service delivery manager, who gave an overview of the cloud services offered by Huawei as well as a demonstration of Huawei Cloud services.

“Cloud is the future for any industry,” he said. “By 2025, more than 50% of customers will be on the cloud.”

Among the cloud benefits highlighted by Sheik, were the elimination of up-front commitments, global scale and elasticity, increased productivity, and performance and security.

For their part, attendees at the event are finding it incredibly valuable.

“The areas that I can implement immediately, would include using the various technological enhancements to streamline my global platforms to become more user friendly,” says Arthie Moore-Robberts, owner/partner at the Ki Leadership Institute. “What appealed to me was the model of linking the strategy of 5G, AI and IoT to the Cloud as a foundation for my business, and that made so much sense to me.”

“Women4Tech training came at the perfect time because it offers the blueprint for how one can shape their future,” says entrepreneur Karabo Mphelo. “The cloud computing session gave me an opportunity to look at how cutting-edge technologies and self-service automated systems are reshaping the world of business, as well as the impact of these automated systems on business.”

The Women4Tech programme will continue on 24 and 25 August, with participants receiving skills development in digital marketing and mobile app development.