BCX: the push towards digital evolution
A digital transformation enabler, BCX has the largest, most technologically advanced, data centre footprint in Africa, powered at its core by CISCO’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software defined (SDN) network fabric capability. With its headquarters in South Africa, BCX has a pedigree of enterprise customers across every single industry in both the private and public sector, including finance, mining, oil, gas, retail, manufacturing, commerce, and health.
“The essence of what we strive to do is “re-invent the customer experience”, explains Mervyn Goliath, managing executive for telecommunications data networks, at BCX. Goliath has spent his career working across almost every facet of ICT, starting in the telecommunications arena during the bygone era of packet switching networks and videotext services, and has been on a career path riding on the crest of the wave of technology evolution in subsequent tenures in the internet service provider arena, digital banking, mobile messaging, service delivery, and wholesale enterprise network services. Technology transformation is part of who he is and he has certainly had his fair share of it – always ready to change and take on the next big challenge. He has finally come full circle to spearhead one of the biggest data centre network platform transformation programs on the continent, a program which will provide the foundation for real digital transformation, a key technology investment program for BCX, and one which underpins a number its big bets for 2021 and beyond.
“Today, more than at any other time, customers have choices. The key to our success is to provide our customers with an engaging, intuitive customer experience that not only meets their expectations, but enhances it through a clearly defined value proposition” – says Goliath as he echoes a purpose and sentiment regularly articulated by Jonas Bogoshi, CEO at BCX.
“The African market, by its very nature, is not an easy territory to operate in. The barrier, not only to entry, but to actually succeed, is high - not just from a technology, service and connectivity perspective, but especially so in the area of skills availability,” Goliath continues. At BCX we take great care to develop a deep understanding of the territories we operate in, and we are equally careful to leverage partnerships to complement and complete our value proposition in a manner that is sustainable and effective – and of course sensible. This is a strategy we employ across the five continents where we presently serve customers. “We follow our customers,” he says, “and we make sure we understand their needs rather intimately to develop services, which are fit for purpose, and appropriate, for where and how we serve them, across the globe. One of our greatest strengths is being able to leverage and carefully apply our vast experience in serving a highly diverse customer base across every single key industry sector, without exception.”
Goliath, who is a big proponent of agile methodology practice, explains that BCX is by default highly adept at delivering projects at pace. Employing an agile approach and mind-set, is not simply for the sake of “ticking the agile box”, but is in fact an approach that sets BCX apart, explains Goliath. While it is important to deliver on clearly defined milestones together with customers, it is equally important to seek out value adding innovation at every step of the process – and it has to be done through an equally agile change management mind-set. “If you’re using an agile approach, you’re going to be doing things a lot quicker than usual,” Goliath says. “Without the right controls, employed in the right way, the sheer pace of delivery and change could be impacting and intrusive on the business. Change management is therefore important not just around the technical things you are changing within the scope of any given project, but also in preparing the organisation – the whole organisation - for the increased pace. I like to think of the whole organisation as one single engine, purring along, powered by a unified change mind-set where everyone is on-board, and collaborating well, and ready to move in complete synchrony. Our teams have come to adopt this manner of thinking and it’s deeply embedded in our culture and way of work – it’s a mind-set, not a methodology”, concludes Goliath.
Goliath says that people often ask, “who is BCX’s most important customer?” He is quick to answer “at BCX the most important customer is the customer of our customer. Part of how we make this a reality is through our operating model that ensures laser sharp focus on telecommunications and IT services as two distinct functional capabilities. This allows us to create concentrated value and capability in our overall value proposition to all our customers, without exception. This is especially important in helping our customers to transform for a digital future. This approach works well regardless of the industry sector a customer operates in. While it is critically important to understand the challenges faced by our customers in the way they operate today, the approach we use to partner with our customers on their journey to digital transformation is key. It is this laser sharp focus on telecommunications and IT services, respectively, which I refer to, and the manner in which we bring it all together, to help customers solve problems, whether moving to the cloud or developing a customised software application, or architecting and running a software defined network solution, that creates the magic,” he says.
“When we bring it all together, our customers are able to take advantage of our wide range of services, to leverage data and analytics, protect their systems with the latest in security solutions, replace or maintain devices, or adopt multiple connectivity options, including our leading edge software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions. The work I am doing with my team, assisted by CISCO international advanced services and niche and nimble network partners like BGP, a local specialist networking company, provides what I refer to as the bedrock for digital transformation, for BCX, for our existing customers and for new prospective customers who understand the value of having a partner like BCX who provides an end to end digital transformation strategy, backed up with agile execution and a proven managed services value proposition – customers partner with us and we will build and run their digital landscape and the enablement they need to underpin their business – not just for the here and now – but to ensure that in a world where technology evolution is inevitable, the risk of being dis-intermediated is lowered – or eliminated.”
“There are customers who think they can't afford to take this journey – our answer to this is, come speak to us and let us help you extract cost out of your existing environment and figure out how to re-invest the savings in a managed digital transformation program. We have strategic partnerships with all the leading OEM’s – rather than mention them here – you might want to take a look at our website to see the breadth and depth of our capability. The word partner implies that each of the parties will be giving a little – no, actually a lot more, than just providing service with a mark-up,” he notes. “I think we have managed to get this partnership recipe right.”
When BCX looks towards digital transformation, its focus is on evolution, and on enabling enterprises to take the correct next steps towards the next stage of their development, rather than integrating technology for the sake of it. “We like to say that our solutions are purposeful,” Goliath continues. “They obviously need to be developed in line with the customer’s needs, but our edge comes from adding that extra level of innovation - and dare I say, passion.”
BCX works with its customers to help them gain an understanding of potential avenues for digital transformation, and how that can be integrated into an appropriate cost structure. “I always say to customers, you have to be careful when you’re thinking about transformation,” says Goliath. “It’s a lot more than just a simple upgrade. The capability available today is much broader than a single solution you may think you need to have in place.” Take for example Big Data - the elements of volume, variety, and velocity at which data is generated and available today (the well known “three V’s of data”) means companies that want to benefit from data insight need to develop strategies around analytics, machine learning, and deep learning. We have developed a very strong capability not only in this area, but in all the vital layers of digital transformation, including cloud based technologies, containerisation, connectivity and the move to SDWAN, cyber-security, mobility, application development, and artificial intelligence and automation – of course all underpinned by a world class software defined network available across the broadest geographical data centre footprint on the African continent, and our high speed on-ramps into Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure – for blisteringly fast and exceptionally well managed local and global connectivity,” says Goliath.
“In recent times, in this new digital world, everyone has had a taste of working virtually. The global coronavirus pandemic has certainly forced us to take a closer look at that,” Goliath affirms. As the working landscape of the world shifts, BCX and other companies turn inwards to develop their capabilities for virtual interaction. Social distancing has brought to the fore the importance of engagement. Thanks to its underlying network capability, BCX is in a strong position to confront this, both in the short and long-term. “You have to always be an enterprise that thinks ahead. It is important now more than ever for organisations to look ahead and think about how they need to evolve their own enterprise, rather than just trying to match competitors,” he concludes.