Agility Key for CIOs

CIOs must be able to adapt to the changes that come from the continuously evolving digital landscape. Thinking outside the box is a prerequisite if they are to ensure their companies remain competitive. It comes down to being dynamic and always looking at innovations around the corner.

David Herselman, MD of Syrex, believes that part of this entails addressing the skills shortage and focusing on training employees to meet the demands of the connected business environment. As such, he takes a hands-on approach on all training inside the organisation with the various technical teams to ensure that they get the most senior experience and correct explanations.

“I believe allot of knowledge gets lost when handed down through too many levels. Trainees should ideally learn directly from the most knowledgeable staff on a given subject. The company also urges staff to get certification and accreditation on an ongoing basis to ensure they are up to date with all the developments in their respective fields. For me, it is also important to follow a mentoring approach to in-house training to provide employees with insights from my personal experience. In this way, a more well-rounded individual is produced,” he says.

Even though a lot of resources are dedicated to upskilling and reskilling employees, Herselman feels that companies should not try and hang on to their staff forever.

“For example, we see our company as a step in their ultimate development and give our employees everything they need to be prepared for this journey. We train them, promote them when necessary, and give them the knowledge they require.”

Beyond the basics

Herselman says a consultative approach in how he does his job is critical for success.

“This applies to both clients and staff. It is about getting more context to understand the situation better and potentially see things from a different perspective that might not have been considered. Many business leaders, me included, feel that it is not the technology that presents the greatest challenge but the people management side of things. Taking the time to understand what clients and staff require will yield great future benefits.”

However, this is not to say there are not exciting opportunities on the IT side to pursue.

To this end, he says, Syrex is getting ready to publicly launch high availability and disaster recovery solutions for customers wishing to migrate into the public cloud. The organisation has also received the prestigious Check Point 4-Star partner specialisation accolade.

“Syrex is also looking at implementing an automated platform that requires less manual intervention. Furthermore, we are providing customers with managed services that take over much of their daily operations so they can focus on their core business functions.”

Changing times

These moves are important especially given how many companies will be migrating to data centres over the next few years.

“With the imminent arrival of 5G networks, connectivity will get a lot faster and easier to use. And as more businesses start to leverage the high performance computing capabilities of the cloud, artificial intelligence will play a significant role in self optimisation and driving cost reductions and improved cyber security.”

Considering that the distributed nature of infrastructure on the continent is still a challenge, this better and more reliable connectivity will be critical for future growth.

“Looking beyond this and the ever-present concern for more effective cyber security, skills shortages remain a challenge in Africa. The state of the economy is also a significant stumbling block to implement new technology.”

Future opportunities

But as part of its pursuit to adapt to these challenging market conditions, Syrex will actively be implementing white box switches to take the role of monolithic routers.

“To achieve this, the company is contributing to open source projects. There is also the disaster recovery as a service value proposition we will introduce and the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) integration to our teams scheduled to be available later this year.”

Through all this, Herselman says that one of the most important lessons he has learnt in his career is to stop micromanaging others.

“People are more than capable of doing it in their own way. You need to trust the process. For me, it is about looking at the outcome and not how it was done,” he concludes.