Rob Sussman on trends for 2016: Artificial Intelligence and Machine to Machine learning.

What trends will define the actions and spend of the South African CIO as they head into 2016?

Rob Sussman on trends for 2016


YPO member since 2003, Rob Sussman, comments on “Retaining Top Talent in the YPO Global Publication.

YPO member since 2003, Rob Sussman, comments on “Retaining Top Talent in the YPO Global Publication.

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Interview: Rob Sussman by Bruce Whitfield, CNBC Africa

Rob Sussman, Integr8 Founder and Joint CEO, interviewed by Bruce Whitfield, CNBC Africa “Why SA’s most succesful technology entrepreneurs, dont list thier businesses”


Walking the diversity talk

Paul Drake is blind, he’s reliant on a guide dog, and like many people with disabilities, has found it hard to get into the working world that more able-bodied people do with such effortless ease. Paul has been lucky, however, he’s been employed by two companies that believe in nurturing talent where they find it, and has been given the opportunity to follow his dream.

Paul is employed by Integr8 IT and works on site, as many of its engineers do

He works as an IT service desk agent at Bayport, a financial services company. He was originally working on the switchboard, he says, but having developed a love for IT during his schooling days, he didn’t want to stay on the board.

backHome5“So I walked into CIO’s office and said to him I don’t want to be on the board forever. He asked what I wanted to do, I said IT and he gave me a chance, so I started on the helpdesk here.”

Paul uses a system called JAWS – Job Access With Speech – a best in class screen reader that enables blind or visually impaired people to use computers running the Windows operating system.  It works with software like Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and other popular programmes. It doesn’t, however, work very well with the G8keeper monitoring software used by Integr8to manage its helpdesk. This wasn’t much of an obstacle for Paul, however. Using his technical acumen he spent a number of days determing how the programme worked and using his scripting skills made it work with JAWS. 

When Integr8 employed him, he says, life got even easier because he was given a PAC Mate Omni – a portable computer with built-in JAWS which provides speech or Braille access and allows blind or visually impaired users to access most of the programmes sighted users do.

“It acts as computer’s keyboard and has a Braille display so can work in Braille and in silence, says Paul, so I can listen to what others are saying or teach them. The Braille displays lets me work like everyone else, and with the use of scripts I started doing more and more at Bayport.”

Paul gets up at 4am to take a bus to work at 5am. He has trouble with busses either running late, or not at all, or drivers threatening to throw him off because of Todd, his guide dog. “It’s a struggle,” he says, “but it’s not impossible.”

Integr8 technical services manager Thiaan van der Walt says that while the company treats him exactly the same as every other employee as far as is possible, it has to make allowances too, and is lenient when he is late or has to leave early because of transport problems.

“I am currently running a trial with him working from home on Mondays and Fridays, and extended this to Wednesdays as well at the beginning of the month. This has been hugely successful,” says Thiaan.

Thiaan also ensures Todd (Paul’s guide dog) is bathed and checked once a month and takes Todd’s bed from work home to wash and dry it.

“The truth is that I simply listen to Paul and what he wants like all other employees and try to accommodate him that way,” Thiaan says. “Most of his requests and concerns are around ways he can add more value to the team, so it is easy to work with him on that.”

For Paul, being able to work from home is another dream come true. “I can do the job whereaver I am with remote assistance, PAC Mate and JAWS. I may not be able to work on the hardware of a machine but I’m doing a course to learn how to do that based on feel so I can be a fully functional first level technician, which is what I want to be. Millions of blind people would love to do what I do but are never given the chance,” he comments.

Integr8’s HR policy stipulates that equal opportunity and dignity at work be achieved for disabled people. Integr8’s team has achieved that and more for Paul, and he’s hoping the company will employ others like Paul, who have the determination and drive to succeed, and who are just desperate for a chance to prove they can do the job just as well as anyone else.

About Integr8®

Integr8 is an ICT infrastructure management and managed services company, with offices nationwide. Founded in 2001 by Rob Sussman and Lance Fanaroff, current co-CEOs, the company specialises in providing vendor-agnostic IT solutions and managed IT services to many of South Africa’s leading organisations. In February 2013 Integr8 IT (Pty) Ltd was acquired by Business Connexion Group (BCG) in a R126m cash transaction. 

Integr8 is the founder and operator of the only South African based Nerve Centre®, a hub of technology, skill and process, that is used to support and regulate its customers ICT environments. The company is a level 4 BBBEE contributor.

Integr8 contact:

 

Tami Sussman

Chief Marketing Officer

Integr8 Group

Tel: +11 555 9300 / +21 439 9986

Fax: 0865 200 002

E-mail: tamis@integr8it.com


Mota-Engil Africa uses Integr8 for infrastructure deployment project

Integr8, an established leading provider of managed ICT services, has completed a complex, enterprise-wide virtual server and storage infrastructure integration project for global multi-disciplinary engineering company Mota-Engil.

Africa is a natural market for the Mota-Engil Group given its presence in the continent for more than 6 decades. As Mota-Engil Africa it has been building a reputation of excellence working in an extensive range of activities such as engineering and construction, environment and services, transportation concessions and mining.

As a result of its IT Infrastructure investment with Integr8, Mota-Engil Africa now has in place a state-of-the-art, virtualised redundant system for hassle-free connectivity between its South African headquarters, its new central project office in Malawi, and Portugal.

The high-tech project was divided into two phases – the first was focused on the provision of virtualised Dell infrastructure at the company’s head office in South Africa incorporating VMWare for storage, as well as Dell server infrastructure and EqualLogic storage. This hardware was used to establish a virtual private network to connect to its offices in Portugal.

The office’s core virtualisation infrastructure was optimised to bring it up to the latest versions of VMware and base hardware firmware.

The second phase involved the deployment of infrastructure at Mota-Engil Malawi Central Office, the company’s Nacala Project in Malawi. This infrastructure allows users on site to work on a centralised system and enjoy access to email, Electronic Resource Planning and document management systems.

A number of core requirements had to be addressed, including the provision of localised infrastructure services to support VSAT connectivity and the provision of systems with at least two years longevity.

One of the main priorities was to implement a solution that would be solid and scalable. This would enable future growth and improvements at a marginal increase in costs. Another advantage is the ease of manageability and flexibility of the new infrastructure. This will improve the ease with which maintenance can be performed on an ongoing basis so that there is little degradation of the environment.

Spokesperson for Mota-Engil Africa Information Technology Area, Bernard Ochieng, says the project was a large undertaking and that Integr8 delivered.

“Integr8 is a professional outfit, with the necessary skills and passion. We have been very impressed with Integr8 from the outset and the technical expertise and quality product that has been invested in this upgrade, means that we now have in place a superb core network system that is able to grow as we do.”


Integr8 spices up the Freddy Hirsch Group ICT environment

Africa’s leading food ingredients manufacturer, the Freddy Hirsch Group, has chosen Integr8 to manage its ICT environment and implement innovative solutions to facilitate the upgrade of current structures, roles and responsibilities.

The move forms part of Freddy Hirsch’s growth management and ICT business alignment strategy. Integr8 has been called in to establish and implement the architecture and design of the current and future ICT infrastructure and processes.

Integr8 has developed a Service Delivery Model that serves as a blueprint of its client’s ICT landscape and is used as the foundation to develop Operational Structures and Service Management functions.

“This model is central to our execution plan and has demonstrated how we will deliver technical service and ICT management to Freddy Hirsch, a renowned leader in manufacturing and distribution of food ingredients,” explains Lance Fanaroff, joint CEO, Integr8.

“Our operational and costing structure holds the key to providing economies of scale and easy adoption of new technology and services throughout the growth and maturity of Freddy Hirsch Group‘s ecosystem. The use of unique Intellectual Property and systems built over the past 13 years will not only address an “always on” environment, project related activities and stabilisation efforts, but will also ensure that Freddy Hirsch maintain a leading edge in their respective market due to the use of technology innovation,” Fanaroff adds.

At the heart of Integr8’s strategy is its highly acclaimed Nerve Centre®, which is a hybrid of people, processes and technology. Integr8 will leverage its Nerve Centre®, together with clearly defined, continually monitored and streamlined processes.

A combination of these dynamics, along with world-class technology and expertise, has resulted in a consistent, predictable and measurable service to its client.

Further to its role in facilitating this transition for the Freddy Hirsch Group, Integr8 has also overseen the creation of an environment which will be dominated by innovation and improvement. To this end Integr8 has established Operational Executive forums.

“Our service delivery model provides the ability to address tactical elements through the creation and participation of such forums. The main distinction between the two forums are; operational forums focus on efforts to improve operational efficiency and system reliability whereas the SME (Subject Matter Expert) forums focus more on strategic and innovation initiatives to drive the growth of ICT services within Freddy Hirsch Group,” Fanaroff continues.

Brent Hirsch, COO of the Freddy Hirsch Group, says Integr8 has proven to be a highly competent, experienced and knowledgeable service partner. The strategy and service delivery model is expected to add measurable value going forward.


Integr8 becomes Lindsay Saker’s “one-stop- ICT shop”

Integr8, a leading ICT infrastructure and managed services provider and division of Business Connexion (BCX) Group, has provided core infrastructure upgrade services to support a Telkom Fibre Optics installation at several sites making up the Lindsay Saker vehicle dealership network.

 

Lindsay SakerThe result has been a well-timed and perfectly executed upgrade of power, trenching, piping and Earth Bars at branches.

 

The ICT services provider was called in to assess and upgrade infrastructure at Lindsay Saker, part of the Imperial Group and Volkswagen South Africa vehicle dealership.

 

Another substantial challenge for Lindsay Saker was having to become Telkom compliant before the telecommunications company would install fibre into the dealership branches.

 

“Our client was looking for a one-stop-shop service and we were differentiated by our pricing and efficiency,” says Robert Sussman, Joint CEO, Integr8.

 

Integr8 has the hardware, resources, expertise and experience under one roof and was able to furnish its client with all IT and connectivity requirements.

 

This means that any operation across any sector or industry vertical has access to a single service provider who is empowered with the relevant skill sets, technology and support resources to address any requirement.

 

“We place a premium on proactive service and the delivery of expertise to support the adoption of innovation and core infrastructure upgrade to enhance performance,” Sussman continues. “Our client invested in fibre optics and had to ensure that the business was Telkom compliant before any fibre could be installed. We have proven expertise in this area and we are able to apply immediate value to our clients.”

 

Wayne Dale, IT Manager at Lindsay Saker, says Integr8 has exceptional technical skills and all the relevant experience to ensure that the vehicle dealership derived maximum value from the fibre optic installation.


Integr8 Awarded EMC Signature Partner Status

Business Connexion subsidiary and ICT managed services provider Integr8 has been awarded Signature Partner status on EMC’s Business Partner Programme.

 

Robert Sussman, joint CEO of Integr8, says the relationship between Integr8 and EMCSouthern Africa opens the market up to tier one service as well as benefiting from support from Business Connexion.

 

“Many decision-makers in business want to explore the opportunities offered by the cloud and leverage the advantages of this new model as applied to the control and security of infrastructure. The value of a trusted, credible business relationship is that it helps those organisations help to address any challenges encountered along the way,” Sussman says.

 

“This is where Integr8 and its incorporation into Business Connexion make a significant difference with the provision of ICT services and support that will enable our clients to lead from the front.”

 

EMCis a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a Service. The company has positioned cloud computing and data management as core service components.

 

Claude Schűck, Channel Sales Lead of EMC Southern Africa, says that Integr8 has complied with all the criteria governing the company’s reseller programme. “Integr8 adds value through its knowledge of the managed ICT services market, technical skills, competency and years of experience,” he says.

 

In addition, Integr8 recently acquired Solution Centre status on EMC’sService and Support Partner Programme, thereby strengthening its offering to clients.

 

Integr8’s Signature Partner status empowers Business Connexion to deliver a range of EMC services and products within Southern Africa. These services and products include the reselling of EMC hardware and software, implementation of solutions and relevant service and support.