8 Feb 2012

Salesforce.com Cloud Services in Africa: Interview with Josh Parolin, Salesforce Manager, Invisible Children

The Com World Series caught up with Cloud Africa speaker, Josh Parolin from the charity Invisible Children - to hear about what his experience with Cloud services are as an SME end user in Africa, and in particular Salesforce.com's contribution to the charity's efficiency & success.

CWS: How would you describe existing ‘’cloud services’’ in Africa?

JP: Existing cloud services in Africa continue to drive adoption within companies and homes across the continent. These services have attracted larger companies, such as RIM and Symantec, to the market and have persuaded them to begin paying more attention to what's happening with the cloud in Africa.

CWS: How would you say cloud has impacted your company?

JP: The cloud has allowed our offices across two different continents (North America & Africa) to connect and leverage data like never before. Tasks such as reporting and data mining which were once limited by bloated software and spreadsheets are now liberated by cloud based CRM and web tools. Communication which was once limited by lofty international fees is now possible with the click of a button. At Invisible Children we're constantly looking to adopt the next great cloud based solution in order to maximize our efficiency.

CWS: Which ‘type’ of cloud would be your choice – public or private?

JP: In our world, the private cloud allows us to share sensitive information and construct valuable reports which without, we would have little need for the public cloud. The private cloud drives our operations.

CWS: How rapidly do you think the adoption of cloud will reducing capital and operational expenditure for enterprises in Africa?

JP: I think what we currently see in the cloud market in Africa is only a fraction of the growth that we will see over the next 10 years. With that, we will continue to see a rapid decline in operational expenditure across the continent. The cloud will continue to find its place in many African companies, big and small.

CWS: What do you think are the 3 key advantages gained by companies using cloud as part of their IT services?

JP: The 3 key advantages of using cloud as part of a company's IT services are increased efficiency, increased ability to scale, and increased innovation. Efficiency is in an instant reward when adopting cloud services because it removes the static and stagnant variables that once weighted a company down, such as servers. The ability to scale allows a company to go from catering to 100 users one day to 100,000 the next day. Finally, increased innovation is a result of the increase in collaboration and learning that becomes possible throughout a company after having adopted the cloud.

CWS: Which key message do you want to highlight during your participation at Cloud Africa in Johannesburg later this year?

JP: The cloud is what you make of it. You can use it to fuel 1% of your company or you can use it to power 100% of your company. Either way, always look for ways to be innovative with your approach to meshing together different aspects of the cloud and celebrating the outcome.

Cloud Africa is the premier Cloud event for the African continent - it is taking place on the 23-24 May 2012, at the Sandton Sun Hotel, Jo'burg. No other event will bring together decision makers from such a cross section of the ICT, telecoms and media sectors - all to boost the adoption and understanding of Cloud in Africa.

Josh Parolin is the Salesforce Manager at Invisible Children, a nonprofit headquartered in San Diego, California, with offices in Uganda. Josh began working for Invisible Children in 2006 while living in Gulu, Uganda. Initially hired as IT Manager in Uganda, Josh helped architect the company's IT infrastructure and developed a database to monitor recipients of Invisible Children's scholarship program. Josh now focuses on merging the power of cloud based technologies, such as Salesforce, with Invisible Children's campaigns in the US and Central Africa.