Dimension Data’s newly appointed CEO, Werner Kapp, said the company’s parent, Japanese technology giant NTT, sees Africa and the Middle East – the markets in which the South African IT services group operates – as ripe with potential.
Kapp, who was appointed to the role on 1 April, replacing Grant Bodley, told TechCentral in an interview this week that the ICT industry in Dimension Data’s major markets – South Africa, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – is projected easily to outstrip global growth. And in less developed markets in Africa, there is an opportunity to use technology to “leapfrog” forward using cloud technologies, he said.
Abhijit Dubey, CEO of NTT Inc, into whom Kapp reports, is particularly bullish on the Middle East and Africa opportunity and is working closely with Kapp and his management team to exploit this.
“Abhijit and NTT are really keen on investment in the continent. We have already invested, and are busy investing, R1.6-billion in modernising our network so it is software defined and programmable,” he said. NTT is also co-investing with Dimension Data in advanced new data centre facilities in South Africa.
With NTT Global Data Centres (GDC), the group is building a data centre in Samrand, near Midrand in Johannesburg, that it hopes will attract global “hyperscale” cloud providers. Hyperscalers include the likes of Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
“We are working a lot more closely with NTT Ltd to make sure we bring that global capability here. NTT GDC is one of the top data centre companies globally.”
Dimension Data plans to consolidate its nine local data centres in South Africa into the Samrand facility, which is known as Joburg One. The aim is to work with GDC to build and offer leading network managed services in Africa and the Middle East.
“The data centre capability puts us in a strong position in a digitally transformed cloud world,” Kapp said. This, combined with the offerings and skills in the old Internet Solutions, Britehouse and Systems Integration businesses (now simply branded Dimension Data), creates a “whole new ballgame for the customer”.
Despite huge investment in data centre facilities in South Africa in recent years – most notably by Teraco Data Environments, but also by Africa Data Centres and others – Kapp does not believe the market is saturated. Far from it, in fact. He estimates demand for data centres in Africa, outside South Africa, exceeds supply by as much as 400%. The figure is not that high in South Africa but demand also outstrips supply in Dimension Data’s home market, he said.
Kapp does not expect Dimension Data’s strategy to change fundamentally now that he’s at the helm. As chief operating officer, he worked closely with Bodley for a number of years, and is intimately familiar with the sweeping restructuring that has taken place at the group in recent years to get it back on a more even keel, including creating a single go-to-market brand and strategy. Difficulties in recent years, in part caused by the weak economy, have forced several rounds of retrenchments, which Kapp hopes are now be a thing of the past.
On the restructuring, he said it was mainly aimed at improving the client experience. He said customers were becoming increasingly frustrated at having to deal with multiple brands in the Dimension Data stable, which sometimes resulted in different divisions pitching for the same business. The new structure has removed duplication and allowed for better capital allocation, Kapp said.
Asked whether the Dimension Data name will stay, or whether the group will eventually be branded NTT, Kapp said no decision has been made. “There are big pros and cons to that. Dimension Data is an iconic brand on this continent; NTT is an iconic brand globally,” he said, adding that changing the name is “not a priority at the moment”. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media
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