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By 6 September 2012 | Categories: interviews

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Avanade established a local office just over a year ago. TechSmart talked to Manoj Bhoola, managing director at Avanade, about the South African market and their partnership with Microsoft and Accenture.

TechSmart: Avanade's South African office has been going now for more than a year. What has the reception been like?

Manoj Bhoola: Admittedly, it has not been an easy task launching the business here but Avanade has seen phenomenal growth, and as a team we are astounded at the success we have achieved in our first year of operation.

Specialising in a single technology platform has meant that we are able to develop and maintain a level of expertise in Microsoft technologies not offered by other global services companies. Our close connection with Accenture brings an additional layer of industry and business expertise to our customer's projects, tapping Accenture's rich source of industry-specific knowledge and leading practices. That's a rare combination, and it's one that customers are beginning to notice and appreciate.

Can you give a brief description of what Avanade does?

Avanade's service offering blends insight, innovation and expertise in Microsoft technologies to help businesses derive the greatest benefit from their technology investments. We apply a collaborative approach to working with customers - and we accelerate innovation by tapping into the skills of our worldwide network of experts and the unique insights of our founding companies, Microsoft and Accenture. We develop solutions using proven and emerging technologies, and offer flexible deployment models: on-premise, cloud-based or outsourced.

Our services are offered through key service lines namely: Application Development, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Technology Infrastructure, Business Intelligence, Collaboration and Outsourcing.

So locally, what are the problems companies come to you with?

South Africa has a huge and growing base of enterprise Microsoft users. I meet CIOs and IT leaders every day, and one of their common concerns is the lack of deep Microsoft skills in the local market. As technology grows ever more complex and mission-critical, customers notice the lack of specialist Microsoft skills as projects overshoot deadlines and budgets, and don't deliver the promised functionality.

This is where we come in, we noticed this gap to offer our expertise in Microsoft technologies to help customers realise results.

Both Microsoft and Accenture are partners in Avanade. Do you work closely with their local offices?

Yes we do. The alliance between Avanade, Microsoft and Accenture combines the strengths of each company - businesses purchase technology from Microsoft, Accenture develops methodologies and processes to ensure they get the best solution for their needs, and Avanade implements. In this way, our clients get proven, fully integrated, and innovative services and a true experience of "the power of three". We are owned 20% by Microsoft and 80% by Accenture.

Innovation seems to be a core concept of Avanade internationally. We take it this is also the case locally?

Although the South African office is less than a year old, it already has a well-established "innovation factory" that is producing intellectual capital. Our passion for technology translates into higher returns for customers. Our people work with the latest products from Microsoft, even before they hit the market, so they are already proficient when they start work on a client project.

Smartphones and tablets have boomed the past few years. Avanade also provides mobile solutions, correct?

The rise of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept where employees use their own devices on corporate networks has motivated companies to provide applications that allow for a rich user experience on mobile devices. Against this backdrop, we have positioned ourselves to be able to cater for this market and we are able to help companies develop applications that meet the requirements of the mobile era, across all mobile platforms.

What is your opinion on Windows 8, will it be successful in the market?

I am confident Windows 8 will be embraced by organisations. Avanade is best positioned to assist companies who may have some concerns around application compatibility issues when they do their operating system upgrades.

Seeing that you work with Microsoft, do you own a Windows Phone smartphone? Are you happy with it?

I have been a user of a number of Microsoft-based phones, and my latest phone is a Nokia Lumia. The phone is managed centrally by our IT department to ensure it remains secure, and allows me access to the Avanade network - through the Microsoft Lync client I get access to our telephony system and live meetings. Even though I am on the road a lot, I am never away from my office. So, yes, I am extremely happy with the phone.

For more information on how Avanade can help your company, visit www.avanade.co.za or phone 012-622-4400.

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