The consumerisation of IT and advent of cloud computing has radically shifted the dynamics within the PC industry. The demand for connectivity across Africa is driving the development of sophisticated systems to boost performance and facilitate mobility, both key priorities for consumers.
IT News Africa caught up with Videsha Proothveerajh, Country Manager, Intel Corporation South Africa, to discuss the company’s current position in the market, including how it aims to meet the growing demand for infrastructure and connectivity across the continent and the impact of existing and emerging trends.
* Please expand on the company’s geographic presence in Africa?
Intel’s main office in Africa is in Woodmead, Johannesburg. This office not only serves the key South African market, but also the broader SADC region as necessary. However, the burgeoning regions of East and West Africa are also a growing focus for Intel, with presence in both Nairobi and Lagos to support the company’s growing interests in these regions.
What current trends are driving your business?
The big trend we see is a demand for secure computing as the transition to intelligent connected systems, driven by the cloud, continues. As connectivity becomes even more pervasive, intelligent systems will continue to demand more performance to bring richer experiences and become more fundamental to our daily lives. We also see that mobile Internet is growing at a dizzying pace, and that’s why you’re seeing a major focus on delivering great experiences from device to the cloud, with new apps and touch experiences.
The other big trend is Big Data. Whether via people or machine, we’re looking to empower data creation across billions of connected devices, analyzing it, storing it, moving it, communicating it, and sharing useful information from it to improve billions of people‘s lives across the planet.
What computing trends are affecting consumer behaviour?
Computing isn‘t just for computers anymore — it’s all about screens. We have so many choices of screens so that we get to pick how we want our computers to fit into our lives – not the other way around. Ultrabooks are bringing a new low cost form factor to everyone. We no longer look at our smartphones, tablets, and Ultrabook systems as specific devices, but as screens that can elegantly fit into our lives.
What is the company’s strategy in Africa, in terms of service delivery?
Through its connectivity and education programs across the continent, Intel is creating brand recognition and a loyal consumer base. Our aim is to prepare citizens to be effective participants in the global knowledge economy. We see several areas of opportunity, including mobile and small business, where we believe technology can take communities to the next level.
What challenges exist to successful service delivery on the continent?
A big challenge in Africa, which is rapidly being addressed through a tsunami of connectivity, has been the limited availability of broadband outside of major cities and centres. Another challenge is the fact that in many areas, there is no technology backbone at all, so we really have to start at a basic awareness level in many instances.
How does South Africa compare to other markets in Africa in terms of adoption, application of technology, issues, trends?
South Africa is definitely one of the most advanced and sophisticated markets on the continent in terms of adoption and usage of technology, and people’s expectations of what it can do for them. The enterprise technology market is steady in South Africa. Buyers of technology are more cautious than in previous years, but they’re investing heavily in mission-critical technologies that deliver real value to the business.
What technology is being adopted by consumers in SA and how does that compare to the rest of Africa?
On the consumer front, there’s a vast hunger for technology across the board – at the lower end of the market, merely to stay in contact, and further up the value chain, people are looking for seamless collaboration across their devices. We have a very active awareness of social media across society, which is spurred by the growing pervasiveness of consumer technology. This is echoed in markets like Kenya and Nigeria. But in other countries, mobile is a key technology growth area and we need to find ways to make the most of this.
What is the company’s strategy to compete in markets going forward?
2012 is an “inflection year” for Intel. In a challenging global technology environment, Intel is investing in new growth areas as it aligns itself better with the way consumers are using technology today: smartphones, tablets, touch screens, ‘always-on’ devices. The company is also positioning itself for what it sees as the future of technology, and the way it will impact our lives in the coming years: omnipresent computing in every area of our life, facilitated by the cloud and embedded chips.
Cloud is where it’s at right now, providing security and clear roadmaps for companies and people who want to use the ability of the cloud to take their technology usage to a new level. Mobile is another key area: the first smartphone with Intel inside has launched, a major step for Intel to become a relevant player in the smartphone business.
Other new areas: By 2014, automobiles are expected to be among the top three fastest growing segments for connected devices and Internet content. The Intel Capital Connected Car Fund is a $100 million commitment to help accelerate the adoption of new technology applications and services in the automotive industry.
Chris Tredger, Online Editor