As both local and global markets face constant and intricate business changes, relevant, reliable and secure Information Communication Technology (ICT) has become not only a dire need, but also a prerequisite for success. To deliver an effective ICT strategy, one must take a view to the future and consider what the business requirements will be next month, next year or in the next decade. Without this forward-thinking focus, the strategy will remain reactive and the benefits of proactivity will never be enjoyed.

At Infoprotect’s recent Future Proofing Your ICT Strategy event, held in August at the Focus Rooms in Sunninghill, CEO Brad Fraser confirmed that an effective strategy requires a holistic approach. “There are four ICT pillars that businesses must consider to ensure that their strategies can grow with the business,” confirms Fraser. “These are: security with data loss protection; data back-up; WiFi infrastructure with guest analytics; and connectivity management with failover.”

The event featured interactive discussions with Infoprotect’s technology partners, detailing how best to address current and future business needs associated with these four pillars.

For security strategies to be successful in a Cloud enabled world, these must be scalable across the board, regardless of the size of an organisation. According to Jon Hamlet, Symantec Country Manager, strategies should incorporate an open, integrated cyber-security platform. “Cloud adoption is driving change, and increasing the speed at which information is being shared: information which must be secured. The key is to gauge your visibility, what you don’t know is what you don’t know.” Hamlet believes that a realistic organisational view is essential to meeting the security needs presented by private, public, hybrid and multi-Cloud scenarios.

To achieve effective data back-up solutions, Veritas suggests considering the truth in the information. “There are various elements to consider,” said Julie Noizeux Veritas Distribution Success Manager (South Africa). “In a multi-Cloud environment, businesses must consider which data necessitates long-term retention, software defined storage and compliance with POPI and the GDPR. The key question is, do you know what you’re storing? Dark data assessments provide valuable insight into unstructured data, what it is and where it’s being stored.”

In the digital age users want access to services, data and information on demand wherever they are. According to Wayne D’Sa, Managing Director at Cipherwave, data centres rely heavily on internet connectivity. “If we consider the current ICT buzzwords – IoT, Big Data, Cloud computing, unified communications – they all have one common requirement, connectivity. Whether the business is collecting information from IoT to optimise operations, or developing large server farms to collect Big Data; connectivity is a key enabler for any company’s Cloud, IoT, Big Data or Unified Communication strategy.”

This necessitates a reliable WiFi infrastructure, which is not only always connected, but also offers in-depth insights into customer behaviour, staff performance and market intricacies. Mark Esslemont, Channel Manager Sub Sahara at HPE Aruba, confirmed that the right technology creates this infrastructure, offering capabilities limited only by the imagination. “Consider downloading an app when purchasing a rugby ticket, which not only directs you to the stadium, but shows you where your specific parking bay is situated. It’ll show you to your seats, allow you to order drinks and food, indicate which restrooms have a vacancy and offer instant replays.” Sound futuristic? This technology has already been implemented at the Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco – all it requires is the right infrastructure.

WiFi guest analytics are moving beyond visually attractive dashboards that offer mere insights into data. “Analytics are evolving,” stated Dean Horsten, Sales Engineer at Skyfii. “The key is to build campaigns that can not only analyse the data, but trigger automatic action if a particular event occurs – such as vouchers, push notifications, or corrective action. With fully location aware software, for example, a university could track whether or not a student is attending lectures. If he misses a week of class, we could send him a voucher for a free burger at the canteen if he attends two classes.”

To achieve all of the above, a constant connection is required. For a constant connection, a reliable failover is essential. According to Hubert Da Costa, Vice President, EMEA at Cradlepoint, ensuring a constant connection requires looking forward to what the future of connectivity holds. “It’s time to start imagining what a 5G world would look like in the endeavour to connect people, places and things securely,” confirmed Da Costa. “This may be built on the backbone of LTE, but 5G is a reality that will surface around 2020. It’ll offer greater communication in all verticals, interactive fitting room mirrors, virtual tours of hotel rooms, heat mapping, beacons, driverless cars, predictive maintenance and an overall improvement on 4G performance.”

In retail, FMCG and fast food in particular, data insights, protection and connectivity are essential to success. According to the Technology Manager at Nando’s South Africa, Stephen Brookstein, being offline meant Nando’s would lose revenue, and this became the driving force behind how the company viewed its future. “We required ICT infrastructure that could run a scalable, sustainable, great business, while delivering a continuously enhanced and seamless experience for both customers and staff.”

Through Infoprotect and its partners, Nando’s achieved a unified and stable communications platform across the entire estate with a centrally managed 3G failover position. “We’re able to manage the traffic on the lines to prioritise the important data and have increased uptime to almost 99%.” With dual sims for multiple coverage, Infoprotect deployed more than 300 Cradlepoint routers across Nando’s stores in only 12 weeks. Connectivity is consistently managed and monitored by Infoprotect’s support team. “This allows for software to be centrally deployed while providing enhanced network security and laying the platform for the roadmap ahead,” said Brookstein.

Change is constant, and if businesses do not evolve to match these changes, they will be left behind. “If two companies are selling the same product in the same area, why does one company succeed when the other doesn’t?” asked Gavin Sharples, keynote speaker at the event. “There is one common denominator to success and it’s this; ‘chinking’ – change, innovation and creativity. There’s something to be said for experience, but do you really have 40 years of learning, growing, and changing experience? Or do you have one year’s experience that you’ve repeated 39 times? Change is going to happen whether you like it or not, so you’re either changing or you’re dying.”

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