Gauteng Business News

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INFOTECH: The Evolution Of the Solution Provider


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The Evolution Of The Solution Provider - - Making Way For Open Standards

Open standards and architectures have laid the foundation for an ever-changing technology landscape, forcing the evolution of the solution provider. No matter how specialised, technology solutions are only as good as the business value they provide - including being able to access, integrate to or otherwise leverage the functionality of complementary third-party technologies to provide a more 'complete' solution.

Says Kgabo Badimo MD of Spescom DataVoice: "As has been the case since the dawn of commercial business, users and companies have unique needs. Today however, unlike a decade ago, there's no need to buy into a huge, multifaceted end-to-end application and spend endless man hours customising it to suit the business. Nor, at the other extreme, should there be the need to invest in a myriad of stand-alone proprietary applications.

"The emergence of open standards and architectures is exposing vendors whose competitive advantage relies on tightly bundling functionality and limiting integration."

Everyone wants to move up the value chain, he says. "That means recognising the power of new technology developments and the potential business value they introduce to the marketplace - and leveraging them to the advantage of your customers and your organisation."

Among the defining new-generation technology trends he highlights the democratising benefits of the open source movement; the increasing familiarity with, and confidence enterprises are showing in the use of hosted and cloud-based applications and services; and, of course, the galvanising capability to convert legacy application installations into Web applications, or Web services.

Explains Badimo: "The challenge faced by application and product houses is finding a balance between building open systems that allow for seamless integration while preserving proprietary intellectual property developed.

Spescom DataVoice provides a good example of how this can be achieved by broadening one's focus.

Notes Badimo: "Spescom DataVoice's Orion and Libra voice and screen recording technologies, and our Qnique workforce optimisation solution are well known and used in more than 60 countries around the world. Our R and D capabilities give us a strategic advantage as we continue to upgrade our products and regularly introduce new and groundbreaking solutions to the market. However, in this day and age where technology should no longer function in monolithic silo's, our products and solutions are built on open architecture platforms, allowing for integration with third-party products and solutions - further enhancing the overall functionality

"As far as integration capabilities are concerned, selling the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for integration to other products is an important revenue stream, and also a means to raise the profile of the solution in various industries and markets," notes Badimo. "Being able to integrate with third-party applications is a key differentiator."

However, although it is crucial to leverage additional value through integration with third-party products, selling a comprehensive offering that meets more than one business requirement is vital. Says Badimo: "Spescom DataVoice, no longer simply sells a product, it sells a solution. The core functionality of our products is wrapped around a very topical and relevant business need. For example, our Libra recorders don't just record, store and play back a voice interaction, the functionality built into these products is designed to mitigate business risk and meet new governance and regulatory compliance requirements."

A critical component of the product house's arsenal remains its industry knowledge; its capability to identify the challenges within a business; scope, supply, implement and commission the solution; and provide the necessary training and ongoing support.

Concludes Badimo: "What's happening in the technology arena at present can be compared to what happens when any industry is liberalised. The market decides the worth of the solution, because everyone is free to put their own price on a product, and add what additional value they can. The winners in this game are the customers because they force the market to improve the quality of their solutions, to constantly innovate and keep their fingers on the pulse of business needs. Technology and product houses must bear this in mind, and continuously keep up with evolving market demands, ensuring their 'value add' does not become stale but rather keeps competitors on their toes."


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