Alberta's oil-related problems are leading to more interest in cloud and managed services, which can be funded from operational budgets at a time when staff and capital budgets are being trimmed.
Global services and solutions provider Dimension Data has announced the appointment of Mike Hodder as area sales director in western Canada. The position is a net-new one, and represents an increased investment by the company in the western market. He covers the four provinces from Manitoba to B.C.
The South Africa-based multinational first came to Canada in 2007, and established a physical presence in western Canada with a Calgary office in the fall in 2012. Now with the hire of Hodder, who has previous senior sales experience with Calgary-based IT solutions provider Mainland Information Systems and high-speed data communications provider ENMAX Envision, Dimension Data is looking to broaden its base in the west.
“The reception from customers has been great,” Hodder said. “I’ve been a part of regional players in the past. In the west, they are used to dealing with regional players, and having insights from global players is new. We have that local presence, we have local delivery, but we have global reach.”
When Dimension Data first set up shop in Calgary, they had a significant western Canadian business, much of it being western Canadian-based branches of large global companies, While that business remains important, they are also trying to broaden out, both in terms of new customers, and to outside Alberta, which still accounts for more than half of their western business, although they have some key clients in B.C. as well.
“We leverage our business with global inbound business clients, and we are now focused on net new logos,” Hodder said. “We are spreading our wings in western Canada.
“The last twelve months have been critical months for Dimension Data out here in the west,” he continued. “We have gained traction here with clients, and over this time frame we have built trust with a number of clients and prospects. We are here to stay and trying to grow the business here. We want to continue to build trust in the local marketplace, and make the client experience as good as possible.”
Hodder’s task is to drive sales strategy in the west at a time when a key focus area for the Dimension Data, the Alberta oil and gas industry, has been devastated by the impact of falling oil prices.
“We are finding just how heavily oil and gas has been affected, with plenty of cuts for capital budgets and employees,” Hodder said. “Here, our innovative solutions help, particularly cloud-based businesses, managed services, and innovative financial models. We are trying to keep it fairly simple, and our focus has been on communications, data centre and cloud, with some focus on security as well.”
Hodder said that less traditional offerings like cloud and managed services have more traction in the midmarket right now than in larger companies.
“We are seeing some success in the midmarket space, because they aren’t holding as much to traditional ways of doing IT business,” Hodder said. “They tend to be a little more flexible and agile than the multinationals, so they are more likely to look at managed services, and ways of transforming the data centres. That gives us some traction in the business. They put a top priority on what cloud offerings we have, because with the cut in capital budgets they have to make more use of operational budgets.”
“The changes in the economy of late has forced customers to be more creative and this has led to more interest in the cloud,” said Greg Walker, business development, cloud, Dimension Data Canada. “This interest is across the board, but in Calgary the impact of oil prices has made this even more significant. Oil and gas companies are cutting as many as a thousand people.”
Dimension Data, on the other hand, is hiring. They just announced their intention to hire another 300 data centre experts globally over the next 18 months.
“The intention is to hire around 45 for North America, although where they get placed is up for grabs,” Walker said. Dimension Data operates as a virtual team in North America, in which there are short periods of time when people are needed on-premise, but the rest of the work can be completed from pretty much anywhere, which lets the company look for the best talent regardless of where they live.
“It’s a nice expansion for architects, sales consultants and professional services people,” Walker said.