21 Sep 2012

“Companies should have general passion for developing content specific to the market needs” says Endemol SA’s Sivan Pillay


Sivan Pillay is managing director of TV company Endemol South Africa. Since Joining Endemol South Africa in 2000 he has been responsible for all of the company's business affairs across South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa, most recently as Head of Commercial Business. Sivan also pioneered Endemol South Africa's digital media business with the launch of Mobivision in 2004, which has delivered innovative new business especially in the mobile space.
He will join the ‘Digital Gurus’ keynote panel at AfricaCom, where he will share his views on service innovation and partnerships in the digital ecosystem, alongside representatives of YouTube, Universal Music and Mlabs.
He answers a few questions ahead of his participation.

CWS - What activities has Endemol undertaken in opening new markets in Africa recently?
SP - From a TV production perspective Endemol has recently produced new shows for Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda, Burundi,  Uganda, Tanzania in addition to Kenya Nigeria and South Africa.  Each of the shows feature cross platform opportunities on both mobile and television.

CWS - How has Endemol started adapting to major changes in an increasingly competitive international market?
SP - With regards to Endemol business in Africa there are three key areas that are vital to be competitive.  They are creativity, pricing and production delivery.  Endemol is well skilled in each of these areas and has learned to adapt to the diverse needs of the African market.

CWS - How can content companies more effectively deliver targeted content for the African market?

SP - Content companies can potentially achieve this by understanding the broadcast platforms, the needs of the market, having better relationships and having a general passion for not just selling, but also for developing content specific to the needs of the market.  

CWS - How do you believe broadcasting has changed in Africa in the past 1-2 years?

SP - The key changes seen are the increased appetite for new content both local and national.  Also, global hit formats attract much attention in Africa and audience expectations favour local versions.  In addition to this, broadcasters are starting to look at the future technical platform for broadcasting (DDT) which will create huge requirements for the acquisition of new, fresh, diverse and specific content for their broadcast territories.  What remains to be seen is, if broadcasters are actually prepared to make the necessary investments to ensure successful DDT channels.  Also, broadcasters are in the early adoption phase of cross platform broadcasting which includes mobile and tablet.

AfricaCom will take place in Cape Town on 13-15 November. 

Read this week's Hot Stories in Africa and Middle East

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The African mobile app that’s bigger than Facebook in Nigeria

Middle East Operators seeing the benefits of network sharing

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The Com World Series team concentrates on emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia 24/7 – 365 days of the year. You can follow the news with us by joining our online communities.

Endemol: "African broadcasters are in the early adoption phase of cross-platform broadcasting"...

Sivan Pillay, Managing Director of content house Endemol South Africa, on the new shows his company has produced recently for the African market, and African appetite for global hit formats.

What activities has Endemol undertaken in opening new markets in Africa recently?
From a TV production perspective, Endemol  has recently produced new shows for Cameroon, Ghana, Ruanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania, in addition to Kenya Nigeria and South Africa. Each of the shows features cross-platform opportunities on both mobile and television.

How has Endemol started adapting to major changes in an increasingly competitive international market?
With regards to the Endemol business in Africa, there are three key areas that are vital to competitiveness: creativity, pricing and production delivery. Endemol is well skilled in each of these areas and has learned to adapt to the diverse needs of the African market.

How can content companies more effectively deliver targeted content for the African market?
Content companies can potentially achieve this by understanding the broadcast platforms, the needs of the market, having better relationships and having a general passion for not just selling, but also for developing content specific to the needs of the market.

How do you believe broadcasting has changed in Africa in the past 1-2 years?
The key changes seen are the increased appetite for new content, both local and national. Also, global hit formats attract much attention in Africa and audience expectations favour local versions.
In addition to this, broadcasters are starting to look at the future technical platform for broadcasting (DTT) which will create huge requirements for the acquisition of new, fresh, diverse and specific content for their broadcast territories.

What remains to be seen is,if broadcasters are actually prepared to make the necessary investments to ensure successful DTT channels. Also, broadcasters are in the early adoption phase of cross-platform broadcasting which will include mobile and tablet.

Sivan will be speaking at the AfricaCast 2012 event, taking place in Cape Town on 14th-15th November. For more information and to register please visit http://africacast-event.com/

20 Sep 2012

Internet Traffic Optimization for Enterprises

The AfricaCom 2012 team are delighted to welcome Ipoque as an exhibitor at the event. See below for their guest blog post on internet traffic optimization for enterprises.

Enterprise collaboration tools, FTP hosting, file sharing applications, customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation tools. Instant messaging (IM), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, records retention and email – all mission-critical business applications, all required to be up and running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Now, imagine doing business without these tools.
These applications are some of the most essential business productivity solutions in an enterprise arsenal, they’re also the most flagrant network bandwidth hogs – and without Internet traffic management solutions in place, you might one day find yourself stuck doing business without them.
If you’ve ever been working in the office when suddenly, despite a dedicated Internet connection, your connection slows to a crawl, you’ve likely fallen victim to one or more of these application bandwidth hogs. While Internet Service Providers equip their network infrastructure to meet today’s requirements when it comes to Internet data traffic enterprises do not have this special focus on data traffic. Thus the optimization of Internet traffic has often been neglected in companies, having above-mentioned effects. The solution often is another bandwidth upgrade or accepting the reduction of efficiency within the company.
Why Internet traffic management now?
The need for enterprise-level Internet traffic management solutions has never been more apparent than today. As more and more businesses enable remote workers, partners and even customers to log on to their enterprise network, they’re often not prepared for the crush of traffic flooding their networks. So the ability to identify, classify and prioritize network traffic according to enterprise-specific needs is essential to doing business in a Web-based world.
What's happening throughout the network grid? How are applications performing? How is bandwidth being utilized? Is user and application traffic being prioritized appropriately? And are there potential areas of severe network congestion on the horizon? These are just a few of the most important questions enterprise network administrators should be able to answer to ensure their networks can handle the weight of end user data demand.
There are two simple keys to Internet traffic management: 1) Priority management that favors important applications over less important bandwidth-hogging applications, and 2) Maintaining complete visibility into network behavior.
Whether VoIP, Web browsing or audio and video streaming (or a combination of the three) is your enterprise’s highest priority – the ability to give tiered priority status to business-critical applications ensures available bandwidth is optimized.
What will your organization do without Internet traffic management?
Great question. The answer is, we don’t know.
However, what we do know is this: the demand for always-on network access is only growing, while network capacity and bandwidth resources are limited. Enterprises, just like service providers, simply can’t continue to add network capacity for bandwidth hungry applications.
The only viable solution to preventing bandwidth bottlenecks, ensuring enterprise applications have the necessary bandwidth to complete mission-critical tasks and controlling network-related operating expenditures (all while ensuring QoS), is a high-performance Internet traffic management solution that supports your high-performance enterprise network.
Read more in our work in Africa by reading about our work in Burundi and Angola in a multi-billion dollar company in Africa.

18 Sep 2012

Interview with Adrian Cornelius, IT Security Portfolio Manager at MTN Business

Adrian Cornelius, MTN Business
Q: Please briefly outline your company, role there, and your recent experience of enterprise ICT services in Africa
A: I have worked in the product development field in both fixed and mobile industries, with over 10 years' experience specialising in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and  Security-as-a-Service areas. As head of MTN Business IT Security Product Portfolio, I am responsible for securing the converged product offerings at MTN Business. My main responsibility here is taking Security-as-a-Service Products in converged networks to market, in particular building Converged Cloud Based Software Services in the enterprise segment, integrating Mobile data Products with Security Products. I also have an extensive background in Content Management Platforms for Content Delivery to Consumers and Business segments of which security is an integral part.

MTN Business is a South African Tier-1 Internet Service Provider and also leverages off the MTN cellular network and provides out-of-office connectivity through 3G, EDGE or HSDPA technology. We are a leading telecommunications provider operating one of Africa’s most technically innovative, reliable and secure Virtual Private Networks (VPN). MTN bundles converged telecommunications and IT services in a single package with options ranging from managed networks and applications to innovative seamless integrated solutions. 

Q: What have been the main developments in the African enterprise ICT market over the last six months to 1 year?
A: Some of the key developments include the emergence of Cloud Service Providers and Brokers in the market. MTN together with many other ISP’s are offering fully managed ICT services including a whole spectrum of applications, managed and deployed from a local data centre.  Applications which are relevant to the business market include:
  • Mobile Device Management, which integrates the Mobile with the management systems  of the enterprise.
  • Document  and Content Management Systems
  • Storage in the Cloud, and Disaster Recovery systems
  • Hosted Mail Security including Web Filtering
  • Communication Applications including Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing
  • CRM and ERP and Accounting systems for Businesses, including the Business in a Box concept for the SME sector

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing enterprises in Africa when it comes to ICT?
A: The shortage of skills for deploying, managing applications and software, as well as customising software to cater for the particular business rules and processes needed by growing organisations on the continent. Cloud in some measure solves a great deal of the maintenance and management issues with software, while freeing up the resources to deal with efficiency and productivity concerns and integration with business processes. This has allowed enterprises based on the continent to offer richer, and more competitive products, relying on IT systems that are more responsive and tailored to their offerings.

Q: Is your business seeing challenges around enterprise customer data usage rising much faster than revenue, as in the consumer market? How do you aim to tackle this?
A: In companies that provide services in the converged ICT and Telecommunications space like MTN, the customer value proposition needs to evolve with the changing customer requirements. Data and Voice have become commodities and hence the value that companies add is to climb the value stack and offer a more comprehensive suite of managed services. This extends beyond connectivity to application management and control, system integration, where various application components are combined to offer re-usable services and other elements that are relevant to the enterprise market.  Thus to continue to be relevant to the customer, MTN offers a suite of services to the enterprise market that builds on its reputation as a telecommunications provider.

Q: What would you say is your defining 2012 ICT ‘moment’ in Africa, technology or service?
A: I believe the rollout of cloud-based services addressing needs as disparate as security, business intelligence, content management, as well as CRM and ERP via a multiple of service providers, will enable businesses throughout the continent to compete on a global scale. This is due to the productivity and efficiency that an accessible, affordable and quickly deployable IT system offers.

This together with the uptake of smartphones, which make mobile computing and applications a reality, will make digitisation of the continent an achievable short-term goal, rather than a dream. In fact, the uptake of smartphones, and its affordability, together with the computing power, make it an indispensable corporate tool.

Q: Is there enough innovation occurring in the industry? Can you provide some more examples?
A: In the ICT space we have found a new niche for local application service providers who have in some part been displaced by large software vendor companies with cloud based offerings, hosted in data centres outside the continent.

They have responded by developing a service broker model where they can scale their services and customise them for the enterprise and SME segments. This means that they can leverage the more affordable Opex based licensing of this software, and integrate it with the current offerings. The enabler for all of this has been the use of the Web as a standardised means of delivering applications.

Q: Which key message do you want to highlight during your participation at Enterprise ICT Africa in Cape Town later this year? 
A: I believe that the standardisation that cloud brings to the enterprise and its ability to add value and provide on-demand consumption models are critical for extending the reach of ICT services.  It represents an opportunity for ICT companies to differentiate their products, and transform from mere re-sellers to service brokers and service enablers, customising their products and integrating them with the business processes, rules and semantics of the enterprise segment. This can only enhance the productivity, efficiency and profitability of the entire ICT value chain.

17 Sep 2012

The Rise of Enterprise 2.0

By Sadiq Malik ( Senior Consultant MEA  Informa )
Enterprise 2.0 is a push toward integrating the social and collaborative tools of Web 2.0 into the office environment. It is also a fundamental change in how businesses operate it cuts the chains that hold back collaboration in a traditional office environment. In an Enterprise 2.0 structure, information flows laterally as well as up and down as structured order creates controlled chaos . Enterprise 2.0 has the potential to provide knowledge and content management in a surprisingly cheap and easy fashion using Web-based tools.
The Enterprise 2.0 Tools
Enterprise 2.0 tools make it easier to share and organize information. Tagging and rating provide a straightforward way to find content and make judgments about what to look at. Blogs and wikis are natural collaboration and communication platforms. Social network tools help staff find the right individual or group of people.

The Wiki
One of the most popular forms of Enterprise 2.0 is the business wiki. The wiki is a tried-and-true collaborative system that is just as good for small tasks, like keeping up with a staff directory or a dictionary of industry jargon, as it is with large tasks, like charting the development process of large products or holding online meetings.
The Blog
While wikis get a lot of press, blogs can also provide a great role in an organization. For example, a human resources blog can be used to host company memos and frequently asked questions can be quickly asked and answered in the blog comments.

Social Networking

Social networking provides a great interface for Enterprise 2.0. As the efforts to implement Enterprise 2.0 into a corporate intranet grow, traditional interfaces for operating the intranet can become unwieldy.

Enterprise 2.0 - Social Bookmarking

The process of tagging and storing documents can become an important aspect of Enterprise 2.0 as the social and collaborative efforts successfully grow the intranet into a primary resource for the company. Social bookmarking allows a person not only to store important documents and pages, but to do so using a very flexible organizational system that will quickly allow them to put a document into multiple categories if needed.


While it is easy to think of sites like Twitter as an fun way to waste a little time, they actually provide a great blueprint for greater communication and collaboration. Micro-blogging can be used to let teammates know what you are working on and to quickly communicate and organize a group.

Mashups and Applications

Office 2.0 applications can also provide a pivotal role in Enterprise 2.0. Online word processors allow for easy collaboration on documents, and online presentations can allow for quick access from anywhere in the world without the hassle of installed software and up-to-date data files.
Implementing Enterprise 2.0 
There is no such thing as an one-step-Enterprise-2.0-approach. Even with a cultural change objective and initiative upfront – the critical masses for the adoption have to be build up and carefully evolved to leverage the benefits of the network afterwards. Starting small gives you a chance to see how people react to the tools, how to manage the process and develop a social system for engaging in this “ social inline fun “ fashion Ideally after completion of your internal "Beta" project when employees are comfortable making entries, responding to one another, leaving comments and organizing the content, one can think about how to expand the effort to include other Enterprise 2.0 tools, such as ratings and bookmarks.
The Role of Telcos
Current Telco mainstream offerings to the Enterprise market are based around capacity and hosted services, sometimes complemented by IT outsourcing projects. The challenge for the carriers (and particularly the mobile operators) up to now has been how to offer services that can deepen the relationship with the Enterprise through increasing the scope of their service offering.
Telco 2.0 and Web 2.0 components creates more value to the Enterprise . For example Telco resources can be embedded with the Enterprise applications to identify the real time location and distribution of a service engineer’s customers (using Google Maps and Location feeds) to view the geography of the area covered.
The potential for improved customer retention is one of the main benefits. Increased revenues by offering higher value services by demonstrating to Enterprise customers that combining real time network knowledge and communications with Enterprise application logic can reduce costs, improve effectiveness and efficiency and increase sales.

Enterprise ICT Africa

Enterprise ICT Africa is  co-located with Africa’s largest and most well respected communications conference and exhibition, AfricaCom. Attendees to Enterprise ICT Africa will benefit from valuable, relevant learning amongst a select group of 200 ICT decision-makers, alongside networking with the 7,000+ AfricaCom telcos and 250+ technology exhibitors. For value, no other Enterprise ICT event in Africa compares.
Attendance is free to African enterprise CIOs and operator companies and early booking discounts apply to all others. Your ticket also includes access to the AfricaCom conference morning keynote sessions and 250+ stand exhibition.

Interview with Corning - The world's largest supplier of Optical Fibre & Workshop Sponsor of AfricaCom

1) In brief, please describe your organisation and the work it is doing in South Africa.

Corning Incorporated is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics, the inventor of the first low-loss optical fibre and the world’s largest supplier of optical fibre. Corning optical fibre is the most widely deployed brand of optical fibre in the world, with a tremendous amount of experience working with operators who deploy optical fibre throughout the world. It only makes sense, therefore, that as South Africans go through the Information and Communications (ICT) revolution, including the deployment of fibre optic infrastructure that Corning supports them by supplying high quality fibre and offering free consultations on fibre network design. Corning has supplied most of the fibre that goes into submarine cables coming to South Africa and the sub-region and is working with most operators in the country to ensure that they deploy the most appropriate fibres that enable low overall cost of network ownership. Corning also offers South African operators free training seminars on the fundamentals of optical fibre; to register visit this website: http://www.globalcommhost.com/cof/2012events/

2) How would you sum up the characteristic of the South African telecoms, media and ICT industry this year?

The South African telecom market has remained one of the largest markets in Africa and still growing. Although about 50% of all operational fibre optic cable in Africa is in South Africa, the deployment of terrestrial long haul and metropolitan networks continues unabated. Broadband adoption continues to evolve with entrepreneurs coming up with innovative broadband applications but with a broadband penetration of less than 20% and a target broadband penetration of 100% by 2020, South Africa provides for great opportunities. South Africa   is not only attracting direct foreign investment for the deployment of telecommunication infrastructure but there are huge local investments.

3) What would you say is your organisation’s priority for 2012?

Corning’s priority for 2012 is to strengthen our relationship with operators in South Africa through our free educational seminars and assist them in designing their networks.

4)  Which type of services do you think consumers are going to be calling for in 2013?

More and more consumers will be calling for emerging broadband applications such as video streaming, money transfer, electronic newspapers, and video conferencing. It is incumbent on South African operators to move away from voice as the main source of their revenue and focus instead on these new applications as alternative sources of revenue streams. However, such applications would require high quality and high speed broadband so more focus should be placed on network quality.  We also see a tremendous adaption of broadband by the public service, including the establishment e-tolls and municipality city wide broadband networks.

5) How important do you think cost-efficiency/reduction is for service providers in South Africa this year?

With so much price pressure on many services, cost efficiency becomes imperative. However, cost efficiency does not equate to operators procuring less expensive products that may compromise reliability and functionality. In the case of network infrastructure deployed to support broadband services, a cost efficient network is one whose cost per Mb/s will decline as more and more capacity is utilised. It has become common for some operators in South Africa and Africa to select turn-key solution vendors based on the lowest cost as the most important criteria for their selection. It turns out that networks that are the cheapest to deploy on “Day One”, may turn out to be the most expensive networks to maintain and upgrade over the more than 20 year life of the networks.

6)  What do you think is needed to improve connectivity for the underserved in your market?

Since connectivity to the underserved, usually rural areas, may not make good business sense for individual operators, there has to be a concerted effort between government, operators and infrastructure companies to bring connectivity to these areas. The South African regulator, ICASA, established a regulation for all telecommunication operators to contribute to a Universal Service and Access Fund to support rural connectivity. This could go a long way to improve the status of rural connectivity.  When government departments are planning for rural electrification or developing new roads to rural areas, they have to simultaneously plan to deploy optical fibre. In Southern Africa, , through the Southern Africa Power Pool, it has become mandatory for all new power lines to be equipped with optical ground wire so that any new power lines to rural areas will carry optical fibre that will facilitate connectivity to the underserved areas. Cable can also be installed along new roads, significantly reducing the civil works cost of deploying cable

7) What do you think are the 3 key attributes needed to succeed in South Africa’s telecoms, media and ICT industry going forward?

1.       There is now adequate capacity on South African shores but more work is needed to deploy terrestrial fibre networks closer to the consumer to improve the speed and quality of broadband services.
2.       While mobile broadband will be the predominant form of broadband for the majority of South Africans, there are applications for which mobile broadband will never measure up and wire-line broadband is imperative. Therefore, as South African’s deploy next generation mobile broadband networks, fiber to the home networks and more advanced forms of XDSL, such as VDSL, should be deployed in parallel.
3.       Operators should move away from voice as their main source of revenue and embrace emerging applications such as video streaming, video conferencing, security surveillance, etc. as alternative sources of their revenue streams. Operators and entrepreneurs should create new broadband applications to solve South Africa and Africa’s unique challenges. 

8) Which key message do you want to highlight to the audience during your participation at South AfricaCom in Cape Town this September?

Corning has been in the fibre optic business for over 42 years, remaining the industry leader due to its fundamental understanding of optical fiber, high quality products, innovations, and solid business relationships. Corning understands that the highest quality network operators throughout the world are the most successful and believe that South African operators who embrace quality in their network design, deployment, and operations will succeed.

Join Corning Optical Fiber’s free seminar on fiber optics at AfricaCom

Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

As the fundamental passive carrier of all your network data, the optical fibre is one of the most important elements of a telecommunications network. The optical fibre you install today is expected to perform for 25 years or more. Therefore deciding which fibre to use is a highly important decision that determines the future performance of your network.

At the end of this seminar, the attendee will understand essential aspects of optical fibre and its application to telecommunication systems and network Design, be able to specify the most appropriate optical fibre for different telecommunications applications to ensure longevity of network performance, and be aware of the latest innovations in optical fibre technology and associated next generation optical fibers.

Who should attend?
Engineers and managers responsible for network planning and design, fibre optic specifications and cable procurement.