Computech Profile on Africa Outlook
Computech Limited is demonstrating ongoing entrepreneurial flair and an enthusiasm for technological innovation in order to combat a rapidly shifting IT landscape
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Kane Weller
Computech Limited’s evolution over the past 30 years has been largely representative of the development of computing in general, the Company applying its wide range of technological expertise in an East African region progressing at a rapid pace.
The privately held Company, from its Kenyan, Zambian, Ugandan, Rwandan and Tanzanian hubs, has placed an equally prominent emphasis on wider skills development in the region over the years in order to ensure not just business growth, but overall infrastructural development.
“Computech offers a wide range of products and services and we are able to cater to all our customers’ technology needs from our extensive portfolio, no matter how simple or complex. Our hardware divisions provide high-end compute, storage, and networking, as well as PCs, laptops, and printers. Our software division offers cyber security, cloud solutions, Microsoft, and custom technology, while we also do structured cabling. Our services division provides managed services, outsourcing teams, maintenance contracts, and SLAs, and we also offer customers leasing options,” introduces Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, Hassan Popat.
“Our offices across East Africa work closely to provide our regional customers with all of these services as they require them, and when it comes to served sectors, we are industry-agnostic.”
Boasting plenty of expertise across domains including banking, finance, telecoms and essentially any other sector that suits Computech’s portfolio, the business is able to provide on-the-ground resources and solutions wherever the need arises.
To Popat’s mind, such flexible, turnkey capabilities can be attributed to three core continuous improvement philosophies: people, customer service, and IT expertise.
He explains the former: “Our key philosophy has focused on investing in people. We’ve invested significantly in training, developing expertise, and building our knowledge base; and are proud to have an exceptional team with some of the most qualified experts in the region.
“Secondly, we pride ourselves on providing superior customer service. We have often had team members travel hundreds of miles, work all night, and wake up in the middle of the night, in order to meet our customers’ needs. We take pride in going that extra mile to give our customers the best service.”
The final consideration regarding IT is a living, breathing dynamic and becomes all the more complex as Computech’s customers’ needs intensify. The ability to adapt accordingly is therefore paramount and adhered to via the Company’s strategy of partnering with vendors best placed to provide best-in-class solutions in alignment with the industry’s rapid pace of development. Microsoft, HP and Cisco speak for themselves as apt partners to fit the bill.
When Popat was an MBA student at Carnegie Mellon in 1983, IBM introduced the first PC, an unveiling he was sure would revolutionise the world, and that kick-started his dedication to not just following the industry, but playing a part in driving it.
He recalls: “When I moved back to Nairobi in 1987, I founded Computech Limited and we started with only two people, selling IBM computers. My objective was to provide state-of-the-art technology, to bring expert knowledge to the East African market, and to provide the best customer service.
“Our very first customer was Jubilee Insurance and we worked on a project to connect IBM PCs to the mainframe. Since then, we’ve achieved many more milestones and completed many bigger, more complex projects of which we are proud.”
1994 saw the Company appointed as the first HP-authorised distributor in East Africa, and 1996 saw the business diversify and expand. 1999 ushered in the first of many international expansions in Uganda and Tanzania, and the turn of the millennium, 2010 and 2013 broadened the regional footprint further into Rwanda and Zambia.
Peaking in 2010, the development ever since has been achieved upon a backdrop of increased market saturation and unseen-before industry innovation, but the vision has remained the same: to be Africa’s most respected and trusted provider of technology for business, and to enable high-performance organisations to work and communicate better, faster and more profitably.
“Our customers tend to be mid-large sized companies - both regional and international - and over the past 30 years we have worked with more than 5,000 on a variety of projects,” Popat says. “We are now looking to broaden our customer reach both by industry and geography, ensuring we have team members with industry-specific knowledge and that we have industry-specific products and services.
“We’ve added value-added services which we believe customers need and want, such as high-level design and implementation of large-scale projects, and another part of our portfolio which we have recently expanded is software to cover areas of cyber security which is a key area of importance today.”
Further diversification into healthcare via a partnership with GE Health, and finance through products such as ATMs will add further strings to the Computech bow, with the intention to expand these services to cover hardware, software, and solutions. As ever, the business remains vigilant to any upcoming IT landscape fluctuations as epitomised by trends including big data, the Internet of Things, and cyber security at present, and is well-positioned to partner with leading institutions in these areas.
A trusted advisor
In particular, Computech has been monitoring cloud developments, custom software, application development, leasing, cyber security and managed services in an attempt to diversify its remit in the midst of the changing IT outlook.
“We’ve added more cloud-related offerings to our portfolio and we were Microsoft WECA’s (West, East and Central Africa) Partner Of The Year 2017 for Cloud Productivity,” Popat affirms. “Over time, we’ve seen customers demand increased managed services as they look to outsource IT requirements and we have teams based at several client sites.
“Furthermore, we are increasing our leasing options to provide customers with more flexibility and payment terms. Cyber security has been a hot topic globally for 2017, and future trends we’re monitoring include big data, IoT and blockchain technology. IT is continuously changing, and we adapt constantly to keep up with new trends. We see ourselves as a trusted advisor to our customers and so our team continues to keep track of major changes happening which inform our key decisions.”
Internally, Computech has made a series of investments and structural improvements to facilitate its own service and business growth; entailing software enhancements, new offices in Tanzania and Uganda, multifunctional facility refurbishments and an investment into Computech 3.0 - a transformation programme designed to enhance operations, streamline processes, increase efficiency, and reduce complexity. Computech 3.0 reflects the focus on continuous improvement, from internal digital transformation, to growing the portfolio and further enriching the customer experience.
Popat adds: “Our people are our biggest asset, so as part of Computech 3.0, we are investing heavily in our team through training, experience, and bringing together our teams across five countries. Given that we have six offices in five countries, we are introducing secondment opportunities where our employees are able to get experience in different African countries.
“Also included in Computech 3.0 is the redefinition of our company culture and all our HR processes. We hope our culture of innovation, teamwork, and fun helps us to attract and retain the best talent. We are looking to digitise elements of the hiring process and are working with new partners who offer advanced technology and AI to simplify hiring and to identify the best candidates.”
The very best offerings
Over the past 30 years, Computech Limited has worked with some of the region’s leading companies across industries and projects as an indictment of the Group’s strategy and efforts. Offering expertise to high profile clients including the Government of Tanzania, the Government of Uganda and a host of the region’s leading banks, services firms and telcos across East Africa, the business consistently demonstrates acumen across the entire process and across a range of technological requirements.
Voice and video collaboration, networking, security, switching and routing, data centre design and installation, LAN & WAN connectivity, security installation, and infrastructure development represent just a small sample of the services provided to this end; each compounded by refined and honed logistical expertise to ensure distribution is efficient and timely.
“We track every step of the delivery and implementation process and communicate with customers so that they are kept up-to-date with their projects,” Popat assures. “It is important for us to understand where the bottlenecks are in the process so that we can continue to refine and improve our ways of working.
“We work with international vendors, distributors and delivery companies, and sometimes factors that are out of our control impact our deliveries to customers. However, we are developing methods to better influence and measure all the steps along the delivery chain and have successfully reduced delays by as much as 50 percent as a result.”
Once again alluding to Computech’s overriding goal and pride to provide exceptional customer service, this top priority drives each and every improvement to the business and its portfolio; and this focus will continue in the years to come to maintain its position as the best in the region.
“We work with leading global companies, ensuring that our portfolio is comprised of the very best offerings in the business, and that this is frequently updated to offer new solutions,” Popat continues. “We have a very strong brand and our customers and partners recognise us as one of the leading players in the region because they have seen what we are capable of achieving.
“They see the value in our business, in our teams, and in our future. Our customers see us as a trusted advisor and a partner, not merely a supplier. We are honoured to have such great partnerships with leading global and African businesses. We look forward to further building the brand and our organisation to be even stronger over the next 30 years.”