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What Africa must do to capitalise on high growth managed services space

What Africa must do to capitalise on high growth managed services space

Those competing for a cut of a potential US$257.84 billion market should expect high data volume and greater influence of M2M, analytics etc. says Cisco.

Multinational technology company Cisco has announced a deliberate move from hardware to software & services, along with the launch of the Network Intuitive and reinvestment in its partner program. This is partly in preparation for anticipated growth of the global managed services market.

The company says this market will grow at 11.1% annually to reach US$257.84 billion by 2022, with SMBs identified as the fastest growing market segment.

Service providers in Africa are more aware of the changing needs of the market, specifically the need to drive their own customers through the digital transformation journey says Ali Amer, Cisco's global MD for service providers (Africa, Middle East and Turkey).

Amer explains that service providers are under pressure from the market at large as well as from Over-the-Top (OTT) operators. Service providers, he says, should expect global cloud traffic through 2020 to quadruple, by the same year nearly half of total connected devices will be machine-to-machine (M2M), and video will continue to drive global mobile traffic.

"Service Providers in Africa, as in the rest of the world, will have to go through a deep transformation of their network, with the adoption of newer technologies and solutions allowing the network to become more flexible, self-healing, secure and agile in enabling the digital services and applications required by the market," said Amer.

"At the same time telco operators and SPs will need to transform their operations and their organisations, and also develop new skillset and the ability to digitise the customer experience, to simplify and improve the business processes and to successfully implement new business models to differentiate and capture the market opportunities."

Amer asserts that managed services providers will need to address the increasing adoption of cloud, with the ability to manage private, hybrid and public cloud offerings.

Empowered partner program

Earlier this year Cisco announced Global Gold, its new partner certification tier open to Africa partner organisations.

According to Amer the intention is to "ramp up benefits" for partners to increase the value exchange for resellers.

"Our newly appointed head of Channel for Sub-Saharan Africa, Garsen Naidu, and his team are also working on a policy to expand our Channel Partner offerings to make it easier for SMBs to be able to scale," he adds.

The partner program is one of several key steps the company is taking to position itself to compete more aggressively in Africa's digital journey.

It has confirmed investment in AI and machine learning, with machine learning capabilities integrated into the Cisco Spark Board, and a partnership established with Google with active participation with cloud providers.

According to Amer, the Google partnership will deliver a hybrid cloud solution that helps customers maximise their investments across cloud and on-premises environments.

Cisco has also announced an alliance with ConnectWise to streamline the creation of managed IT services based on cloud-managed technology.

The emphasis is on enhancing its multi-cloud enablement product portfolio says Amer, who mentions ACI Anywhere and several acquisitions including CliQr, OpenDNS, CloudLock, AppDynamics, and Viptela, amongst others, in this regard.

These partnerships are in place to help strengthen the company's overall position in a market that continues to evolve quickly and which demands organisations become more digitised – and quickly.

This is being driven by IoT and the cloud, two priority areas in which Cisco sees itself as an enabler.

"Digital transformation is clearly going to take place everywhere in the world. It started already in the most mature market and will continue to take place gradually everywhere across the globe. We do see Africa becoming ready to adopt both key technology enablers as well as newer and disruptive business models to offer newer type of services and applications to businesses and end users," says Amer.

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