Kabelo Makwane, Managing Executive for Cloud, Hosting and Security at Vodacom Business.
It was nearly a decade ago when cloud adoption started gaining momentum. Today, it’s mainstream, which makes the 30% year on year Vodacom Business’ cloud services growth unsurprising. During a discussion on the cloud adoption at CNBC Africa’s Future of Work summit in October, fellow panellist Robin Fisher of Salesforce hit the nail on the head. In describing today’s business environment, he said we’ve entered the era of a “cloud-first, work-from-anywhere, digital headquarters (HQ)”, in which the office is now essentially in your pocket, thanks to cloud-based tech.
This notion of the digital HQ is underpinned by the work-from-home (WFH) trend brought about by the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, only 26% of South African employees surveyed by Michael Page worked from home. Once lockdowns hit, the WFH figure skyrocketed to 79%.
Clearly, the pandemic has forever changed the way we work, with businesses having to migrate to the cloud to enable collaborative remote- or hybrid-work environments. In a recent webinar on the pandemic’s impact on cloud computing in the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA) region, the IDC shone a spotlight on this fundamental shift in IT sourcing models, confirming that chief information officers across companies are looking towards digitally automating processes and operations as a cost-saving measure. Cloud, notes the IDC, supports this automation.
Building agile business environments
The trend we’re seeing, as reiterated by Microsoft, is that most businesses are leaning towards a fast and affordable “lift-and-shift migration” to the cloud in an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) deployment. In this simple lift and shift from on-premises infrastructure to data centres, local businesses are reaping the benefits with a streamlining of operations supported by a reliable, robust, always-on cloud network. Added to this boost in productivity is the fact that the cloud, by design, is more secure, not forgetting that it creates a force multiplier to access new, borderless markets, securely.
These local businesses are what Vodacom calls “future-ready” – agile organisations that have invested in their digital transformation to meet the demands of 2021 and beyond. Our research shows that nearly 10% more businesses deemed “future-ready” (within a larger group of all surveyed businesses) are prioritising a cloud-connected working environment. In fact, a defining feature of such businesses is that they’ve taken significant steps in new technology investments in cloud computing and cybersecurity amongst other enabling technologies.
While South Africa’s future-ready business owners have embraced the cloud, there’s one last piece of the puzzle where telcos, like Vodacom, can really bolster Africa’s economy off the back of cloud adoption to further boost local business success. Recently, Vodacom has started to bolster its Africa Datacentre foot-print and the deployment of African data centres. This, as noted in a Business Day article, is a promising move that will help build Africa’s capacity to store, process, secure and control its own cloud data. More partnerships like Vodacom’s Thus must happen if the continent is to realise “data sovereignty” – currently, the bulk of Africa’s data centres are foreign-owned. To this end, Vodacom will continue to heed the call by expanding its footprint of data centres on local soil. After all, our mission statement is to take Africa’s society Further Together. By developing African-owned data centres, and offering high-quality cloud-based business solutions in collaboration with global cloud hyper-scalers, Vodacom will continue to meet its purpose of connecting the next digital billion to the global digital economy.