11 April 2013
Mobile telecommunications operator MTN went live in Ghana and Nigeria on Wednesday with a range of cloud computing services for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with launches in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Uganda to follow later this year.
Cloud computing involves the delivery of computing resources over the internet. Users access cloud-based applications through their web browsers or mobile apps, while software and data are stored on remote servers.
MTN launched cloud pilot projects in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa in December, becoming the first mobile network operator in Africa to adopt the cloud service brokerage model, in which access to services is centralised, with MTN in this case acting 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 said in a statement on Tuesday.
“What the pilot project confirmed is that our offerings are on the mark,” said Farhad Khan, executive for MTN’s group enterprise business unit.
“There is great appetite for ICT solutions that are relevant, customised 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.”
MTN Cloud offers an impressive list of services. As part of the trial, participating companies were offered access to Office Desktop, a cost-effective e-mail and collaborative software; Mozypro, a back-up service for the effective management of files and servers; and Dialcom, an on-demand video conferencing offering.
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.
According to MTN, the most popular solutions during the trial were Averiware, MozyPro Online Backup, and McAfee SaaS.
Companies that participated in the pilot ranged from SMEs in the IT, manufacturing and hospitality sectors in Ghana to those in media and advertising in Nigeria.
“MTN is optimistic about the uptake of MTN Cloud,” Khan said. “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.”
MTN said that business customers would receive a 30-day trial of MTN Cloud. Customers who subscribed to MTN Cloud through MTN Business would also be able to pay for services using airtime.
“Plans are also under way to enable businesses to use MTN Mobile Money to pay for MTN Cloud services, with payment being effected in the local currency of the participating market,” the company said.