Organisational capacity, customer understanding, and the lack of high-speed internet are some of the key challenges to mobile operators adopting cloud technologies in Africa, according to panelists speaking at AfricaCom 2013, in Cape Town, on Wednesday.
All panelists representing major telecommunications companies at the Cloud Stream of the annual conference confirmed sales force capacity is a key obstacle in transitioning to the cloud; with a range of other obstacles such as customer education, security, regulation and faster internet also identified.
“First and foremost you have to address your organisational capacity,” said Nancy Matimu, head of enterprise products and innovation at Safaricom, explaining that a move to cloud entails building teams capable of providing support services at a higher skills set level.
Theo Bensch, managing executive of Telkom Cybernest at Telkom South Africa, agreed with Matimu, adding: “You have to elevate your relation with the client to one of trust.”
Another factor affecting the consumer aspect to a shift to cloud is customers’ knowledge of the value of the internet and cloud in particular.
“We need to focus on customers. Access to internet is needed to appreciate the opportunity of internet,” said Matimu.
Matimu added that in Africa, the small and medium enterprise (SME) market is a particular focus, and within that market there is no clarity and access to internet; impacting on telcos’ decisions to transition to cloud technology.
“From an SME perspective, knowledge about the benefits of cloud becomes key,” said Vuyani Jarana, head of enterprise business for the Vodacom Group.
With regard to customer mentality, Jarana added: “Customers need to be comfortable with cloud… Security is still a point of discomfort.”