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Issue Date: October 2007

Thinking out of the box when it comes to infrastructure

31 October 2007

Infrastructure: something on every South African's mind with the countdown to 2010 having begun. CEO:M-IT, an EOH company, believes that while there are definitely challenges in terms of our developing this, if we were to utilise the infrastructure at our current disposal that much more efficiently, we would arguably solve many of these challenges effortlessly.
"When it comes to the infrastructure debate, it is important to look at the South African situation holistically. While there are areas that historically did not have infrastructure, much of our country does have infrastructure at its disposal," says Khumalo. "This essentially means we are looking at two different sets of challenges: that of developing infrastructure in certain areas, and that of better utilisation of existing infrastructure in others."
Khumalo uses the example of bandwidth to demonstrate this under-utilisation. "If companies such as banks were to do their non-core data-streaming after 5pm, it would free up a large quantity of bandwidth during the day for instance. This more efficient use of this resource could potentially have a huge impact on the infrastructure in place, and create far more capacity."
Mobility too has enabled far more strategic use of infrastructure on hand for South Africans - yet one that many companies are still not embracing to its full potential. WiFi, 3G and WiMax are just three examples of technologies revolutionising this space, "By giving our staff access to alternative technologies we ease the pressure on our fixed office resources such as broadband. 3G enables connectivity virtually anywhere. It is a viable alternative to plugging into a fixed network connection, and also gives staff more flexibility and freedom in the workplace - something most of them would really appreciate."
Flexibility in the workplace, in terms of hours worked would also enable more consistent, evenly spread utilisation of infrastructure. "This type of flexibility would have the knock-on effects of helping staff avoid traffic, get their children to school in the morning and so forth. It could thus potentially not only improve use of limited office resources, but additionally boost employee satisfaction and improve staff productivity."
While infrastructure provision will arguably remain a challenge government and the private sector need to work together to overcome in certain areas well into the future, none of us can deny the value of more strategic use of the infrastructure already in place. By thinking out of the box in our approach to infrastructure, we as individual companies have the potential to positively impact on its utilisation and, while we are at it, allow our staff that much more flexibility to do their jobs and lead happy and balanced personal lives.

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