By Nelson Mandela Muhoozi
South Africa based regional financial service provider, Absa Group, has launched a cloud incubator initiative, to enhance cloud computing skills across its operations in Africa. The Group said it is promoting cloud fluency as part of its broader efforts to stimulate learning, experimentation and innovation across the organisation to enhance the banking experience for its customers.
Cloud computing is on-demand delivery of IT resources and technology services, such as computing power, storage, databases, on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing, as compared to on-site computing which involves buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers.
By migrating to the cloud, companies eliminate the expense of building and managing on-site data centres while gaining the ability to reduce infrastructure costs and scale up and down as need arises, rather than paying for excess on-premises capacity.
“Cloud is rapidly becoming the norm for large companies, a trend that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted a step-change in digital solutions,” said Andrew Baker, Absa Group Chief Technology Officer. “Using cloud allows us to store much more data cost-efficiently, compared with physical data centres. Cloud has already improved our ability to manage and access data and will enable us to bring products to market faster.”
Absa recently completed a rebrand of all former Barclays Bank operations in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania after acquiring the nearly 100 year old British financier operations in East Africa. Absa also has operations in South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Ghana, Mozambique and Zambia.
South African internet and IT researcher, World Wide Worx, in its ‘Cloud in Africa 2020’ report said that 84 per cent of African organisations surveyed viewed cloud computing as cost-effective and the future of business. It said investment in cloud computing is expected to increase significantly in 2021, with 56 per cent of respondents estimating that a quarter of applications will have moved to the cloud by the of the year.
To support its cloud transformation, Absa has launched an internal cloud incubator programme to participate in AWS’s Skills Guild initiative, a comprehensive cloud skills training programme designed to help large enterprise organisations accelerate their cloud adoption journey and build cloud fluency for their employees. The cloud incubator initiative will equip more than 1, 500 staff across Absa’s African operations with advanced cloud computing skills this year.
“The AWS Skills Guild offers enterprises a comprehensive approach to organisation-wide cloud enablement, and is designed to not only impart cloud skills, but create excitement, momentum, and accelerate paths to innovation. AWS Skills Guild is based on our experience building enterprise-wide skills transformation plans for our customers across the globe, including National Australia Bank, Deloitte, Kmart Group, and many more,” said Chris Erasmus, Commercial Sector Leader for AWS in South Africa.
A key outcome for Absa’s internal cloud incubator participants is that they will be able to identify cloud opportunities within their businesses, and create more efficient, scalable services and solutions. Employees will have the confidence to innovate faster and experiment more to drive broad scale digital transformation across the business.
“Accelerating cloud adoption will have a significant impact on Absa’s ability to innovate, offer new value propositions, and play a meaningful role in our customers’ and clients’ experiences,” said Baker.