One of SA’s larger listed IT companies, Gijima, is giving free Apple iPad 2 tablet computers to all its employees and lessening its reliance on laptop computers as the consumerisation of IT in business gathers pace.
The idea, apparently, is to position the company as a developer of iPad applications and enterprise solutions.
About 3 800 employees will receive iPad 2 devices, Gijima says, starting with about 900 for staff for are on the road a lot meeting with clients. Assuming all the iPads purchased are entry level models, the capital outlay involved is R16,7m, based on official retail pricing.
On Wednesday, Gijima unveiled its first app, the Gijima iMag, which is intended as a means of getting internal communication to staff and giving employees secure access to Gijima’s intranet and other IT services.
Rodney Ichikowitz, CEO of local Apple distributor Core Group, says the idea is to “bring devices like the iPad into the corporate space”. He says the world is “moving into a post-PC era” and Gijima has an “incredible footprint that will help us support enterprise clients”.
Ichikowitz says there is a “trend towards consumerisation of devices in the workplace. The days of organisations deciding to buy a specific device are dead and buried. Different people need different devices to maximise their productivity.”
IT departments have to figure out how to integrate a wide variety of devices, he says.
Gijima CEO Jonas Bogoshi says iPads are “being used for access to communications, but imagine a factory manager who has access to production information online, or a mine manager who has access to information in real time”.
“Executives need information for decision-making and business intelligence capability is one of the best places for the iPad.”
Bogoshi says few people even use their laptops’ full functionality and that “60% of the time, an iPad will be sufficient.”
The company is developing an enterprise application store that is expected to be ready by the end of the year. It is also building “a handful” of apps for its staff and clients.
Bogoshi says Gijima is creating the ability for people to book a laptop for the times they need one, and that via cloud computing these “laptop lockers” will ensure that when a staff member books a machine it will automatically have the information and tools they need when they collect it.
“When you book it, it knows who you are and has your profile pre-installed,” he explains. “We, and our clients, are using fewer and fewer laptops and PCs,” says Bogoshi.
The purchase of iPads forms one part of promised big changes underway at Gijima. Bogoshi on Wednesday unveiled “Vision 2025”, the company’s plan for the next decade and a half. Bogoshi says that by then, Gijima wants to be recognised as “that small black company that transformed into a global technology solutions leader”.
He says the company is shifting from a product-centric to client-centric business model. Its recent acquisition of the local BMC Software distributor, BMC Business Service Management, from African Legend Indigo was motivated by its desire to put itself at the centre of the data centre space and position itself as a significant player in cloud computing.
The company’s share price has languished in recent months following resolution of a dispute with one of its biggest clients, the department of home affairs, over a multibillion-rand IT project. But its executives appear keen to put those troubles behind it.
Newly appointed chief operating officer Debbie Zwane-Chikura says Gijima’s “clear intent” is to “become a leading global player”. She says it’s “not just about dominating SA market. We’re looking to be an international blue-chip player.” — Craig Wilson, TechCentral