Dimension Data to take Cisco approach

A partnership brought global IT services company Dimension Data to Canada and partnerships will be essential to its Canadian survival.

Wendy Lucas, the head of Dimension Data’s Canadian organization, revealed that much during an interview in September. She explained that the company comes to Canada focused on “advanced technologies” – as in the Cisco approach to unified communications, mobility, videoconferencing, presence and contact centres solutions – to establish its Canadian beach-head. Dimension Data regards itself as a consulting and integration expert in a range of network communications services and applications, and a provider of remote monitoring and fully managed IP telephony services.

Lucas says unified communications is the primary services focus of the Canadian company and it is “exclusive with Cisco in Canada.” In fact both Dimension Data and Cisco head offices are in the same downtown Toronto Brookfield Place office building. No doubt the two companies will be spending a lot of time and sharing many customer engagements together.

But Dimension Data, a company that focuses on large enterprise customers and multi-service engagements, has its work cut out. Success is far from a sure bet.

Enterprise unified communications solutions is the declared services territory of IBM Canada, among others. And Big Blue is the far and away ITC services leader in Canada. IBM Canada employs close to 20,000 people across the country while Dimension Data has but 12 local people. The South African-based services company will look to leverage its large international workforce to service clients here. The “help wanted” sign is out for tech talent and partners.

Partners able to deliver technical skills in a range of network communications solutions for large enterprise customers might be a more effective way for Dimension Data to rapidly build a local services organization. Talent is difficult to acquire these days – assuming you can find it. It makes more sense to partner at this stage.

And partnering with Dimension Data might be an intriguing proposition for Canadian integrators and other IT services providers. Dimension Data is successful in other geographies and positions its technical expertise and best practices as key value propositions. These are important customer considerations, especially when it comes to emerging technologies like VoIP and unified communications. Word is that IBM definitely sees Dimension Data as a direct competitor and is no doubt watching that company’s every move.

The company must execute flawlessly and quickly to establish a strong brand perception, convince local customers and partners that it is a true IBM alternative, and can rapidly build a significant Canadian presence. Otherwise the Canadian venture will fail.

Partnerships will make or break Dimension Data.

Says Lucas: “Where we are not is where we will use partners. They need to understand our methodologies and adopt them. Partners are critical.”

The good news is that Cisco should be highly motivated to ensuring Dimension Data is both successful and enduring in Canada. Expect Dimension Data to be invited by Cisco Canada to more than a few high-profile and significant customer engagements, and perhaps be positioned among the most elite partners of choice for Cisco’s prized named accounts.

Local and regional services companies with specialized skills in unified communications and other “advanced technology” skills might want to get to know more about Dimension Data in Canada. They definitely want to get to know you.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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