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Mobile key to exploiting Africa's data explosion

Mobile key to exploiting Africa’s data explosion

With multinational cloud service providers investing in South Africa and other infrastructure providers expanding data centre operations across Africa, the hyper-availability future is looking bright for the continent. This has resulted in an evolving environment focused on intelligent data management strategies.

From entrepreneur all the way through to enterprise, the speed, cost, and availability of data have become such that organisations are rethinking how they manage it more intelligently. Already, hosted solutions are growing in adoption resulting in attention turning to availability and business continuity strategies. This entails much more than just the backup and recovery of data. Instead, the focus is on utilising the existing data in a more intelligent manner to extract meaningful insights from it faster than before.

In Africa, one of the key drivers behind this is the ubiquity of mobile. The continent has long been labelled a mobile-first environment. Some might even say that it is mobile-only given the challenges of rolling out fixed-line infrastructure to remote and rural areas.

Irrespective, with a mobile penetration rate of 43%, and expectations that there will be more than 690 million smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, the positioning is clear - mobility must be an essential part of any data management strategy.

The connected customer

But mobile is not just about having a smartphone or tablet. It entails how to manage shifting customer expectations when those users have embraced mobility into all facets of their lives.

According to the GSM Association, sub-Saharan Africa has been identified as a leading market when it comes to mobile money adoption. This requires an enabling environment geared towards the always-on availability of services.

Although mobile is the preferred channel for personal interactions, it is fast-becoming expected in a business environment as well, irrespective the industry or size of the company. And while there are several data input channels available to organisations, mobile presents them with one of the most important ones.

In fact, if they are to map the customer journey, chances are good that mobile is the entry point into the business. This can take the form of mobile internet browsing, email and instant messaging communication, as well as social networking and video chats.

All of this generates a substantial amount of data that needs to be intelligently stored and managed to provide decision-makers with meaningful insights.

Understanding what is important to customers when it comes to mobile expectations is vital to delivering products and services that fulfil those needs. Fundamentally, customers want a consistent experience. Having a single view of the customer has long been touted as the cornerstone for delivering a richer business environment. However, it appears that the biggest stumbling block to managing the connected customer is the unwillingness by some organisations to adapt. But thanks to the increasing popularity of innovations such as mobile money and other mobile applications and services, this will have to change.

Data management

Even though the general mindset is still very much geared towards the traditional backup and recovery of data, the explosion of big data makes this no longer adequate. Availability is something that has become a business necessity. Companies can ill afford not to have access to data especially when customers expect products and services to be available to them around the clock.

Ensuring this availability across the entire enterprise becomes both much more critical and much more challenging as does getting visibility into all the data across the various channels where it resides and the networks across which it moves.

Hyper-availability requires a shift in mindset. Certainly, backup and recovery are important aspects, but the way that is managed requires a more intelligent approach. Intelligent data management and hyper-availability are two parts of the same coin. For a business to be truly effective in the mobile African environment, it must embrace both fully and drive change internally.

So, availability today is based on policy-based mechanisms where data is often manually relocated to optimise cost and performance or to recover from a security intrusion. Availability in the future must evolve to a more autonomous model where the system reacts and adjusts automatically to any significant changes in the behaviour of data, apps, or users anywhere across the enterprise.

To meet the challenges of this hyper-driven environment, businesses need three things: A new data management strategy, a new approach to data management, and a new enterprise platform to help them on their journey towards the holy grail of intelligent data management by ensuring data is always protected, in compliance, and available when needed.

Africa is driving mobility in ways previously unimagined. How ready an organisation will be for this growth will largely be dependent on its openness to this hyper-available environment.

By Kate Mollett, regional manager for Africa South at Veeam.


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