Internet Solutions: What next after the rebrand?

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Richard Hechle, Managing Director, Internet Solutions - Kenya

The company has now shifted from just focusing on connectivity into enterprise solutions

When Richard Hechle joined Access Kenya three years ago as the new Managing Director, the company had just been bought by Internet Solutions (IS), a South African company that was founded in 1993. Mr. Hechle says that Access Kenya was well-known for its connectivity business, while Internet Solutions is a much bigger Pan-African ICT solutions company. In view of this, the need to rebrand into one brand message, Internet Solutions Kenya (IS-Kenya), was essential. “The re-brand was a culmination of the merger of both businesses and their transformation.”

IS-Kenya has in the recent years diversified from connectivity to enterprise solutions. According to the Managing Director, the market is changing and clients are demanding something different. “What we found from our corporate and SME base is that just providing connectivity is not enough.”

Furthermore, the connectivity space is getting more competitive. The company is therefore leveraging on its countrywide network to provide different services.

IS has a footprint across Africa in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria.

Enterprise solutions
They are split into two – connectivity and non-connectivity solutions.

In the enterprise connectivity business, IS-Kenya deals with managed VPN services, CloudWAN and managed internet break-up ports.
On the other hand, the enterprise non-connectivity solutions include penetration testing, email security, cyber resilience consulting, managed data centre services, virtual machines, managed communication services, VoIP and WebEx solutions.

Other non-connectivity services include IT resources. “We deploy resources to our clients, as well as recruiting and deploying personnel to various large and small organizations.” IS-Kenya does that from an ICT personnel point of view.

In addition, through Continuity East Africa (CEA), the company is able to deliver business continuity planning, disaster recovery services and consulting, and work area recovery seats.
“We have also partnered with United States International University – Africa (USIU-Africa), where our work area and disaster recovery is located,” reveals Mr. Hechle. IS-Kenya experts also teach part of the curriculum, such as Business Continuity Planning, at the University.

SME base

“For the SME base, we endeavor to provide stable, efficient and cost effective internet access,” offers Mr. Hechle.

One of the solutions offered on the non-connectivity side is SME in a box. The solution is a bundled service, specifically designed for small enterprises to provide an internet connection, email, domain, VoIP, as well as buying or leasing equipment. In a nutshell, it is a one-stop-shop solution for small and medium enterprises.
Additionally, IS-Kenya provides other solutions such as web hosting, Microsoft Office 365, VoIP services and end point security services to its small clients.

In the pipeline

Mr. Hechle says that IS-Kenya plans to launch new products that are set to disrupt the market. “In the pipeline, we have some very interesting developments such as providing our client base with a consumption-based variable billing model.” According to Mr. Hechle, it is a rate based on consumption, something that has never been done in the Kenyan market.

“The vision with our SME base is to provide them with a much more automated platform. We therefore want to have a client portal, with a checkbox where clients can choose what they want and to make payment easy and secure.”

As well, the company looks to grow its presence in the continent by moving into Rwanda in the near future. “We are currently in discussion with potential acquisition partners,” says Mr. Hechle adding that “we are looking at a majority stake in the business.” IS will be operating in the enterprise space in the Rwandan market.
IS-Kenya also plans to extend its partnership with Microsoft and integrate voice capabilities into Microsoft teams.

Managing network security

According to the Managing Director, the company’s client base is lacking knowledge on how to be resilient. “75 per cent of security issues that happen in an organization do not come from outside, but from within,” he says. In regard to this, much focus should be directed at processes and people adhering to company’s policies. It is also important to provide in-house training to personnel.
Due to this, IS-Kenya provides its client base with specific training, particularly at the board level, to give them a better understanding on the existing risks within the organization.
From a network point of view, the company also makes sure that its own network is resilient.

Emerging trends

In the recent years, there has been increased demand for basic connectivity that is more efficient and cost effective. That is why IS-Kenya has partnered with Surf and Facebook to meet the demand for low cost highly efficient internet connectivity by leveraging on their existing network to provide hotspots in densely populated areas across Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Athi River and Thika among others.

“Currently, we have deployed 900 hotspots, and we are targeting 2000 in the next few months.” The idea behind this development is that people can log on to hotspots and buy cost effective bundles and have high quality connectivity at the same time.

There is also a growing trend across cloud computing where people are demanding different solutions. For instance, the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model is expected to continue growing in this space. PAYG is a payment method for cloud computing that charges based on usage.
With all these developments, IS-Kenya plans to remain relevant and stay ahead of the curve. That includes launching relevant and efficient solutions to its clients’ base.

“Our mantra is – we make the world work better. That means making sure we are efficient internally and relevant externally, and make peoples’ lives work better,” concludes Mr. Hechle.