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For now and into the future: what our customers learnt at the Redcentric Symposium

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This year I had the pleasure of opening our symposium. The event provides a great opportunity to take some time out from our busy schedules to meet and talk with customers about the challenges they face, and indeed the innovations they’re involved in to overcome these, on a daily basis.

The symposium provides customers with a great platform to gain real exposure to new technologies, new ways of thinking and new ways of working. We always endeavor to provide an environment that challenges current thinking but in a way that is appropriate for today’s CIOs. Certainly in a way that enables them to take that intelligence back to their own businesses to see how it could be applied.

Customers were able to hear first hand from McDonalds and Howdens Joinery about how they’re managing their IT, and both sessions really caused a buzz. Doug Baker, head of restaurant solutions and services at McDonalds spoke about how IT acts as an enabler within the business to enhance the customer and employee experience. And how if you don’t move forward with your customer, your customer will leave you behind. This real insight into how an IT leader is employing technology every day to make a difference to the business gave many food for thought (excuse the pun).

David Hallett, CIO at Howdens Joinery focused on the supplier relationship and shared his experiences of how to maximise these so that service providers can contribute to the company’s growth strategy. The management of suppliers is often a challenge for many in IT departments. While their core skill and focus is on delivery of technology for business gain, working closely with suppliers can be the difference between success and failure of a project.

While tales from the frontline were inspiring, customers also got a fix of what new technologies are on the way from the likes of HP, Palo Alto Networks, Blackberry, Fortinet, Brocade and Polycom, and how these will help to support customers on their journey to the cloud. We also got an update from Cisco on how the Internet of Things (IoT) has moved on to the Internet of Everything (IoE). It was interesting to hear how the IoE is having an impact in the real world and we were even shown evidence of how Cisco is using the technology to fight the threat of poachers by connecting elephants in South Africa to the internet.

Our mobility partner Berkley Technical Services talked about creating a workable mobility strategy and the session proved to be incredibly popular with customers filling the space until it was standing room only. This highlights that customers are still genuinely concerned about how best to manage their devices and the data on them. Despite what many believe the ability to secure and support devices is still keeping IT managers awake at night.

The response to the customer sessions, and of course the partner presentations as well continues to reinforce something that I’ve discussed many times before: that technology is (and must always be considered to be and treated as) a business enabler – whether that’s for new services, growth or response to market demand. What technology is not, is a means to an end in itself.

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