Natural disasters, the release of the POPI Act, LTE roll-outs, and an increase in technology uptake such as cloud, were some of the biggest impacts on the IT industry this year.

According to n" rel=tag>Christo Briedenhann, country manager: Riverbed Africa of Riverbed Technology, while there were major IT market changes over the past 12 months, we still have in place the same big players we had 12 months ago.

However, he continues, somewhat surprisingly, we have seen natural disasters and political turmoil that occurred during the past year having a significant impact on our market. “As enterprises depend increasingly on the stability of their IT infrastructure, we find that disasters are driving enterprises to become concerned about the of their data, and their ability to protect and back it up. As a result, we are seeing increased interest in data centre consolidation and virtualisation.”

According to Tony Willis, solutions architect at T-Systems South Africa, 2013 has been a year of consolidation and advancement of existing technologies and the delivery on promises made over the past two to three years. “Consequently there have been limited innovative and groundbreaking technologies introduced into the world of IT this year. As expected the advancements have focused particularly around cloud-based services, mobility, social media, business intelligence and big data, and SMART technologies – and the integration of these.”


According to , MD of Master Data Management, big data is gaining momentum. However, a lack of clear business case coupled with immature data management capabilities remain significant inhibitors for widespread adoption.”

, CEO of Altonet cites the emergence of big data as one of the most prevalent trends of the past year. “We have seen an explosion of the amount of data that has not only been received, but also stored. However, organisations are striving to understand the value that this data delivers. Extracting the value of big data, analysing and understanding it is gaining traction due to the benefits it offers organisations, as it allows them to be ahead of their game.”

Nigel Freddy, CEO of TBIS agrees there has been a major drive for big data in Africa. “However, the big data drive was premature and most organisations (except for larger telcos, retail and financial institutions) are not ready for this and as a result, the value of big data still has to be proven.

Briedenhann states that although he has been seeing conversations in enterprise about the ‘mega trends’ in IT, including cloud, social, mobility and big data, mainstream adoption of these trends is in its infancy.


, CTO and innovation lead for Avanade South Africa explains how the ‘SMAC’ Nexus of forces, namely social, mobility, analytics and cloud, have started to gain real traction in SA, with enterprises starting to use it to their benefit.

Willis explains from a business perspective, 2013 has seen increased demand and uptake of cloud-based infrastructure and platform services. “Globally there has been a huge increase in demand for cloud-based services of all kinds in the past 10 months.”

Tudor agrees the acceptance of cloud this year has had a serious impact on the IT industry. “There is a general acceptance of cloud, what it does and how it works when compared to last year,” he explains. “People are getting used to the fact that a computer does not have to be in a predictable place to manage or store data and that data can reside absolutely anywhere. It no longer matters where the data resides, making the cloud location irrelevant unless dictated by legislation.”


On the mobility side, Tudor points out there has also been a widespread acceptance of smartphones. “Due to the availability of cheaper smartphones and the falling data prices, smartphones are being used for not only business, but also personal use. The need for data is increasing while the requirement for voice minutes is decreasing, emphasising the need for mobile operators to change technology types away from voice and focus on data.

Bredenhann agrees and says in line with the rest of the world, South Africans have rapidly embraced the convenience of tablets in the workplace. “There is a growing reliance on tablets and smartphones both in the private sector and to deliver public services. The challenge for many is providing stable and cost-effective connectivity back to the data centre.


Willis states if one looks at the world of consumer IT, the personal connectivity capabilities have continued to evolve, specifically in SA with the advanced rollout of technology. “Alongside this, the capabilities of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and the mobile apps and personal conferencing (video and voice) and messaging options available to users have seen extensive growth,” he says.

According to , former chairperson of the Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA), the most exciting event is the successful conclusion of the Television White-Spaces (TVWS) trial where the results exceeded the trial objectives.

“There is significant wireless data spectrum which could be made available and used more effectively. Opening TVWS will transform the telecommunications access market by making large bands of spectrum available to providers who want to provide quality broadband access at more affordable prices. The successful trial gives the regulator the confidence to proceed with the enabling legislation,” he explains.

The most exciting development, Geerdts continues, is the meteoric rise in usage of WiFi-based technologies for broadband access. “WiFi has come of age to the point where research has shown that the average smartphone user is sending more data via WiFi than via 3G or . WiFi is poised to become a major disruptive technology in the telecommunications market.”

He explains how, for the first time, both broadband and voice tariffs have come into a reasonable price range, so that they can become enablers to the economy. “The pricing is still high, but this year marks the turning point and the multimedia age can become a reality.”

, business development manager at Jasco Group states that customers are starting to adopt , even though handsets are still relatively scarce in the current market. “However, their uptake is increasing steadily as more and more people upgrade their contracts,” he says.

Furthermore, there has been a drop in international wholesale rates as a result of the West African Cable System (WACS) having been brought into operation during 2012. “It took approximately six months for the additional capacity to have an impact on wholesale pricing,” Zollner explains.


According to Willis, possibly the most significant events in IT in 2013 were the revelations from various large multinational organisations around the world – and in various industries (government, media and IT) that large volumes of data had been collected without the target’s knowledge and was being stored and used/mined for various reasons that ranged from borderline to illegal. “The end result – highlighting of the need to manage and protect more than ever personal and organisational data,” he explains.

Bredenhann points out data stored in vulnerable locations is at risk due to natural disasters and political instability. “Any disruptions can impact on the organisation’s ability to run its operations, which could have a significant impact on its bottom line and reputation,” he says. According to Peter Harvey, MD of PayGate, increasing mobile penetration, bandwidth and access to the Internet brings a growing number of people online and into eCommerce and mCommerce. “This combined with the improved payment capability of the population has resulted in growth of online business and opportunities, but has also presented cybercrime opportunities, particularly for more experienced international crime syndicates. Compliance and fraud mitigation is trying to keep up with the pace of growth,” he says.


According to Harvey, eCommerce is starting to be taken seriously and plays a significant role in the economy with a growth trajectory outstripping point-of-sale (POS). “The growing volumes and vulnerabilities of this sector has lead to a growing criminal element in terms of hacking and fraud that needs to be carefully managed,” he says. “Improved compliance such as 3D secure and PCI compliance in the interests of the consumers and businesses, making it a safe and secure environment for doing business.”

, territory manager at Veeam Software explains in the IT space, the passing of the The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act will have far-reaching implications for how companies capture and store data once it gets signed into law by the President next year. “When it comes into effect, there will only be a 12-month grace period for compliance, with companies scrambling to find the right tools.”

He reiterates how the biggest information risk challenges to a company today is the loss of one’s own data, and perhaps eclipsed by that of losing customers’ data, which will soon be punishable with fines under POPI legislation.

According to Nick Durrant, MD at Bluegrass Digital, POPI has enterprises worried since there is a lot of uncertainty about when it is going to be finalised and subsequently many organisations are still unclear on the implications.

“Finally, government’s decision to use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is critical to the rollout of massive science projects as it allows for collaboration with the minimal of conflict over intellectual property rights,” he concludes.