Keeping up with the DiDatas

by Dave Michels

The channel is changing, and the Solution Integrators (SIs) and Global Solution Integrators (GSIs) are the benefactors. Dimension Data (DiData) is living proof.

The UC/Telecom industry has predominately relied on local VARs or dealers to sell and support their products to customer businesses. But that’s been changing first due to UC/convergence and now the cloud. VoIP reduced the importance of location – so a local presence is no longer critical. Cloud-based services further streamline distribution.  The result is two business channels are emerging: SMB and enterprise. SMBs are obtaining their UC solutions from resellers and agents (indirect) or directly from the providers. Enterprises are increasingly turning to SIs and GSIs. Large companies like to deal with large companies, and the DIY approach to IT is fading.

My recent visit with Didata confirmed these observations in many ways, and I conclude that the SIs are positioned to inherit the enterprise channel. Let me briefly introduce DiData in case you are not familiar with them: IMG_1021

  • DiData is wholly owned subsidiary of NTT Group. It has a very large presence in Japan and throughout Asia-Pac as well as the US, Africa, and Europe. It is headquartered in South Africa.
  • It does business in 58 countries and has more than 28,000 employees.
  • For many years, it had exclusive rights to resell Cisco in Africa – it grew along with Cisco during its heyday growth – the partnership is now over 24 years. It has been recognized as a top Cisco Partner many times, including three global partner awards this year.
  • DiData is also a major partner for Avaya, ALE, Microsoft, SAP, and EMC.
  • FY14 revenue hit $6.8 billion (that’s up 48% in two years with acquisitions), and is on track to hit $8B in 2015.

SIs are well positioned for multi-vendor implementations, and everything is multi-vendor. Even if  you go all Microsoft for UC- you are likely dealing with five vendors. There’s also a shift in enterprise IT away from tech toward services and solutions.

Unlike VARs, SIs “have hand” with the vendors. Because of all of the components in a modern solution, the SI has more options to change the bits and pieces, so vendors play nice. But more importantly, modern UC solutions are much less about the product than the services – which the SI captures. That’s why DiData has more CCIEs than Cisco.

DiData CEO Brett Dawson also believes there’s a big change in how clients consume their technology. The tech is radically changing (interconnected, sensors, social, digital, IoT, etc.), which is requiring broader, more advanced services. This is why DiData is transitioning toward outcome-based models. Dawson said the existing business is important and healthy, but the emerging opportunity regards driving transformation. This requires a change in vocabulary – terms such as Project, Capex, and Vendor are being replaced with Solutions, Subscriptions, and Ecosystem.

We all get that channels are themselves vendors, but SI are more original vendors because they increasingly sell their own services. For example, DiData is a cloud provider. They were included as a niche player in Gartner’s recent Cloud Computing Magic Quadrant for their enterprise hybrid cloud services. They are also part of Cisco’s Intercloud. DiData also publishes one of the most informative reports on contact centers benchmarks.

DiData’s UC practice is anchored by Cisco, Avaya, Genesys, and ALE. It is highly focused contact centers along with their transformation toward digital communications. DiData sees the “digital revolution” as the most radical change in contact centers in 30 years. It is impacting technology selection, deployments, and skills. Because of the increase in digital interactions, voice is becoming more complex and sophisticated. Voice is becoming what Group Executive Adam Foster calls the “real moment of truth” because it’s when you either win loyalty or lose the customer for good.

Next year, DiData is going to turn up its sponsorship program a few notches. DiData will be sponsoring the Tour de France (actually being the technology sponsor of the event’s organizer ASO), and it’s not just about the signage and jerseys. DiData intends to use the race as a showcase for the IoB (Internet of Bikes) and Big Data. It’s a five year engagement. Both DiData and race organizers intend to use a variety of sensors and technologies to make the race more engaging for the estimated 3.5 billion audience of the event. This is a significant undertaking not only because it has never been done, but because France is pretty big and hilly. DiDataTourdeFrance1

I kept looking for a Cisco bias in the UC story, but it wasn’t there. I realize now at that at their size, you can’t pit one against the other – whatever is best or preferred by the customer. They have deep expertise in both. Regarding Skype4B, DiData offers the whole solution on prem, an option where it is hosted in DiData data centers (Cloud Services for Microsoft) which offers data sovereignty compliance, and O365. They also offer the entire Cisco portfolio including Cisco HCS.  Avaya and Genesys round out the contact center offers and ALE is very strong in selected markets. Though DiData doesn’t do much with Avaya or ALE networking.