It is official, MTN Zambia launched their latest offering Cloud Services at a lavish ceremony in Lusaka last night at Taj Pamodzi. We say lavish because each member of the audience at the cocktail was spoiled with a free Router, an MTN line and other goodies in a bag. More on that later. MTN Business, a sub-brand and not a separate business now, will go under the tagline “Welcome to the New World of Business.”
The new cloud solution will be offered by the Enterprise Business Unit, which comes in as a whole new business unit to create and provide services for individuals, micro right through to Small-Scale and Medium Enterprises and large corporate organisations as well as Multinationals. The scalable solution can be customized for fixed and mobile access, with easy to use applications and virtual office tools.
Though e-mail comes standard as a service that can be accessed from the cloud, the Enterprise Business Unit (EBU) team led by the Chief Executive Officer – Ismail Abdul – are confident it will add value in a unique way as businesses will now create an image of professionalism and garner trust as they “sit on a dedicated domain.” E-mail is also not only a standard tool for in-house communication, but can also serve as an effective market tool for creating awareness, processing orders, or as a call-to-action tool.
Coupled to that, the platform’s cloud CRM tool will allow businesses small and large to fully track their customer interactions with their sales and marketing teams. This innovative product will allow businesses small or big, online or street-corner, to collect customer information and use it to manage their customers more effectively and efficiently. The teams who work on different projects can also utilize cloud collaboration, which was demonstrated with a basic 3G connection, to allow for video, VoIP and instant messaging.
Backup is also part of the package. The service will basically mean more secure dat and increased accessibility via the cloud. This is all riding on a massive investment in fibre connectivity, data centers and network upgrades (yet to be disclosed amounts).
Furthermore, cloud ERP will come as part of the package. Essentially, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution allows a business to use virtual tools to run day-to-day business transactions, processes and production activity. This is something the government and civil service badly need as it could use a lot of streamlining and digitization of mundane processes like passport issue, birth certificates, title deeds, etc.
All these are secured with McAfee cloud security.
Acting EBU head, Gilbert Lungu, pointed out that MTN has done investments in infrastructure and software in order to create an affordable package that can be customized (for a monthly/annual subscription ) upon assessment of their needs.
With email, security, collaboration, storage and other value-added services this product is meant for the growing businesses in Zambia and MTN bridges a gap where businessed could not access licensed desktop based tools.
Prompted on other additions that could come to the cloud solution, Lungu added that MTN Business will further expand the service offering to include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) – such as the entire range of Microsoft Office365 products – enhanced capabilities, and other premium tools for business. He added, that the launch version is simply the beginning of an exciting journey that the tech industry should look forward to as MTN grows as the business.
Our take: the cloud service out of the box at the moment may lack popular software that most people utilize on a daily basis. However, the fact that hosted email with a customizable domain names is standard is a plus. Most businesses and ‘business men’ are in the habit of using standard web-based email with little or no security. The additional tools like CRM and collaboration will allow teams and Business-2-Business marketing to do more effective marketing, as well as customer relationship. We recommend email thusly, as it is an effective tool with a high ROI.
See some photos of the event below.