Interview: Andrea Lodolo – CTO CA Southern Africa

Andrea Lodolo CTO CA Southern Africa
Andrea Lodolo is Chief Technical Officer of CA Southern Africa.

Andrea Lodolo is Chief Technical Officer of CA Southern Africa. Lodolo is an IT veteran with over 30 years’ experience in the ICT arena in the southern African market. Lodolo commenced his career as a field engineer working on mechanical billing systems. From there, he moved to mainstream computers, specialising in Unix systems with Unisys.

In 1996 he joined CA, specialising in systems management technologies on distributed platforms. He has held various management positions at CA, including presales, services, education and technical operations manager.

In 2010 he was appointed CTO of CA Southern Africa. IT News Africa caught up with Lodolo to gain insight regarding the CA Southern Africa Roadshow as well as how ICT has changed over the last 30 years.

What was the purpose of the CA Southern Africa Road Show?
The CA Southern Africa road show aims to bring the technologies necessary to capture the immense opportunities created by the application economy to African markets. The show already launched in Botswana, Kenya is the latest stop and will move to Nigeria next.

What were the key take aways from the road show?
Kenya is an important African ICT hub, and are advanced in a number of areas, e.g. mobile phone penetration (one of the highest in Africa), Kenya has the highest use of mobile commerce worldwide (due to M-Pesa) and a forward thinking and enabling ICT government charter (Vision 2030). As such Kenya is leading Africa in many aspects of digital transformation, and with a very large up and coming youth who are already digitally wired, are poised to really take advantage of the application economy.

How has technology evolved to help businesses in Africa?
Retail, news, entertainment, banking, education, government, communications – we all live in an application economy – this is a world where business is essentially being rewritten by software.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, virtually every company will become a software company in order to grow their market share, revenue and profits.  It is a world where everything is driven by a connected, mobile, application-based world where customers are far more likely to experience brand and interact with an enterprise through a software application than a live person. A fantastic example of African innovation using software is M-Pesa, Kenya’s mobile money scheme has facilitated mobile payments in many aspects of life from paying for taxi’s, salaries, cash withdrawals, etc. Some extimates of households using M-pesa have shown as much as 15% income growth through the enablement of entrepreneurship. This would not have been possible without software.

In order to thrive in this new reality all businesses – regardless of industry sector – are challenged by the need to develop and deliver superior user experiences that engage both customers and staff and all enabled by software.  This represents a huge opportunity for African businesses.

Regardless of the size or maturity of the market, the pressures being created by the application economy, across the globe, are tangible. There is clear evidence that businesses of all sizes and in all markets, have to embrace the application economy and place software development and delivery at the centre of their business strategy. How organisations adopt the acceleration of technology will define their performance in application economy,

These pressures translate into a need for appropriate investment, augmented by understanding of how to: acquire, motivate, and retain, technical talent.  This is not an easy task in the African context. In business terms, the application economy provides something of a level playing field as it promotes competition. With the right applications and technology infrastructure, African businesses will not only be able to serve their existing markets better, but also to compete with international players both at home and abroad.

How has the ICT industry changed over the last 30 years?
Thirty years ago I was still fixing mechanical accounting machines and the computing industry was phasing out punch cards. We moved from mechanical to electronic billing to computers. From physical signatures to chip based credit cards and from bank robberies to cybercrime. Most significantly we have moved from physical transactions to on-line commerce, with all the benefits and risks that this new paradigm has brought us.

The ICT landscape has been revolutionised over the past 30 years.  Today cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) brings the latest technology within the grasp of even the smallest company, without the expense, delay and risk of investment.

Historically IT has been viewed by the business world as a cost centre, and not a revenue generator. The last 15 years has transformed this view.  Simply put, many organisations’ software development processes have not been designed to cope with today’s intense demands for: continuous delivery; zero defects to meet user performance expectations, and the consistency of interactions via one channel.

How can businesses embrace the application economy and place software development and delivery at the centre of their business strategy?
African businesses can become part of this emerging economic world, but one thing they need to get right first is a solid platform for IT management, including mobile.   The application economy allows a company to redefine its business and even its industry, no matter where it’s situated. Making a successful digital transformation journey involves many components – from reviewing software development life cycle (SDLC) to establishing how DevOps can improve traditional siloed views on who owns what, and how continuous delivery of quality applications and consequently, competitive advantage, can be achieved.

All that’s needed is access to the right technology where a stable, secured and managed IT platform   – backed by the right vision

How has Africa moved forward?
Africa has one of the world’s largest percentages of people under the age of 25, where most of the developed world has less people under 20 than they have over 60. This fact alone is a huge attraction for foreign investment, as this generation of youngsters is seen as one that will soon enter the economy and bring a huge boost of disposable income, and additional skills into a market desperate for both, especially in Africa. Africa has a shortage of skills and yet a large unemployment figure.

This strange phenomena can be redressed if ICT is enabled to skill up people quickly and enable them to contribute to the economy. This is nowhere more pertinent than in the ICT sector where the demand for skilled resources is high, and as such we can stop outsourcing offshore, and even export to increase foreign investment and GDP. Using technology to achieve this is important and building on application development skills will accelerate this growth faster than most other industries.

Interview conducted by Darryl Linington