By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. April 11, 2013: MTN Group, owners of MTN Nigeria, has gone live with a new bouquet of cloud services this week following a successful trail period in Nigeria and five of its operating countries across Africa.
The operator launched the MTN Cloud pilot project in December last year targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa.
The pilot made MTN the first mobile network operator in Africa to adopt the Cloud Service Brokerage model, the mobile phone company says noting that the cloud services will go live in Nigeria and Ghana yesterday with other markets to follow later in the year.
This approach entails the centralisation of access to services where a third party, in this case MTN, acts as the single point of contact for customers. The focus is on convenience as centralising access to services eases the administrative burden for businesses where instead of dealing with multiple service providers, they now deal with one, MTN says.
Farhad Khan, Executive for MTN’s Group Enterprise Business Unit, says the response to the MTN Cloud trial was positive.
“What the pilot project confirmed is that our offerings are on the mark. There is a great appetite for ICT solutions that are relevant, customized and affordable. SMEs are looking to technology service providers such as MTN to bring them world-class tools that improve their business efficiencies. MTN Cloud offers exactly that,” he adds.
MTN Cloud offers a list of services and during the trial, participating companies were offered access to Office Desktop, a cost-effective e-mail and collaborative software; MozyPro, a backup service for the effective management of files and servers; and Dialcom, an on-demand video conferencing offering, the company says.
“Also on offer were McAfee, a popular anti-virus and anti-spam security software; Averiware, used for companies’ HR, accounting, finance and sales force automation needs; and Microsoft SharePoint, a staff and cross-functional collaborative tool. This is in addition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a customer relations management tool,” Khan adds.
According to him, the most popular of the MTN Cloud solutions during the trial were Averiware, MozyPro Online Backup and McAfee SaaS. “MTN is optimistic about the uptake of MTN Cloud. Our focus as MTN is to contribute to the development of enterprises and the sustainable growth of economies, and SMEs are key economic growth drivers in most of our markets”, he adds.
Companies that participated in the pilot ranged from SMEs in the IT, manufacturing and hospitality sectors in Ghana and those in the media and advertising in Nigeria. Under the new commercial offering, business customers will receive a 30-day trial of MTN Cloud.
Customers who subscribe to MTN Cloud, through MTN Business, in the different markets, will also be able to pay for services using airtime. Plans are also underway to enable businesses to use MTN Mobile Money to pay for MTN Cloud services such that payment will be effected in the local currency of the participating market.