As South Africa battles a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, all eyes are on how businesses will steady the ship and continue to prepare themselves for future shocks and disruptions. This, coupled with a global surge in cyber-attacks, means that digital transformation and acceleration remain as relevant and important, if not more so, than ever.
Lisa Strydom, senior manager of channel and alliances: Africa at Veeam Software, considers digital transformation, the IT industry generally, and the channel in South Africa. She looks at the opportunities, where change and movement are likely to happen, and how partners can build fruitful long-term partnerships with customers. Lisa is particularly passionate about skills development.
Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning digital transformation or digital acceleration?
My question would be, why wouldn’t you be talking about digital transformation considering what we’ve endured over the past 20 months and how the pandemic has affected our lives? If it weren’t for digital transformation and acceleration strategies, we wouldn’t have had the ability to access our data from anywhere. Organisations that were forward-thinking and started the journey before Covid-19 turned our world upside down were well-equipped when the pandemic hit. Their businesses were able to continue close to normal, in a not-so-normal world.
We talk about digital transformation all the time in the industry such strategies have accelerated from a two-year strategy to a two-month reality due to the pandemic. When we talk to our customers it’s all about future-proofing their business, allowing them to be more strategic (it frees up their time) instead of constantly fighting operational battles and being reactive. This isn’t possible if they’re running solely legacy systems. Instead firms should look for platform-agnostic Opex based solutions that give them freedom of choice on cloud and cloud-native platforms right for them, whilst helping them support pockets of infrastructure still on legacy or physical environments. Another priority is protection against ransomware which is a major threat for any organisation today. We have seen a major increase in threats on various types of organisations, and anyone can be a target. .
What do you think 2022 and beyond has in store for your channel?
The future in IT is always exciting because this industry is built on constant and rapid change. I do foresee a brighter future for the channel as customers have settled and found their focus – they know what they need to achieve internally. They are also aware that the pandemic cannot stop our lives from moving forward and that business projects must go ahead.
Also, for those customers who are adopting a digital transformation strategy, it means our partners need to be there to support these initiatives and with that, understand how and what that means for their customers.
The way we work has changed, and ransomware attacks are at an all-time high. Protecting customers’ data is of utmost importance, so these types of initiatives need to be supported by the channel.
Lastly, customers are aware of the POPI Act, so compliance is of utmost importance. How they manage their data, as well as their customers’ data, is of paramount – and regulatory – importance.
If you could give advice to your channel right now, what would it be?
As with customers, our partners need to be future-proofing themselves, so it’s important they understand what the future IT landscape will look like, what their customers should be considering as strategic initiatives, and then ensuring they are able to support and drive these into their customer bases.
Partners need to embrace hybrid cloud initiatives as address how to support their customers in this space on a consulting and technical level. Customers want partners with the skills to support them effectively and to support their choices of where they want to keep their data (i.e. where it resides, on what, and so on). Veeam wants our partners to be educated and ready to take these new exciting offerings to market with us, in conjunction with our alliance partners in the industry
What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
Firstly, my message would be that if you have an interest, embrace it. IT is the future and can open countless opportunities if you have drive and dedication.
Schools are starting to offer more around IT in their curriculums, but it’s not freely available to everyone. If you are fortunate enough to have access to these offerings at school, consider taking it up as a way of investing in your future.
Nowadays we have a great deal of information at our fingertips which we can also use to educate ourselves. Applications like Udemy or LinkedIn offer reasonable or free online enablement, which is a great way to educate yourself.
Also, spend time reading what’s going on in business, in IT generally, in the local economy and globally. This will allow you to build a perspective on the types of skills in high demand.
As head of channel for SA, what is the biggest change you’d like to see?
I’d love to see more investment in education in the IT industry, coming from collaboration between government and the private sector. We need more initiatives to tackle the skills shortage, made worse by the brain drain.
Who are you? Your hobbies and passion?
I’m a wife, a mom, and an avid mountain biker. Family means everything to me and having a work-life balance is incredibly important. Mountain biking is my stress relief.
What’s the coolest thing about South Africa?
The beauty of our country. We are fortunate to have amazing weather for most of the year, and to be surrounded with breath-taking scenery, abundant wildlife, and majestic oceans.