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By 1 August 2013 | Categories: news

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Microsoft South Africa has taken the lofty and noble aim of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship to heart, and unveiled the first Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC) in Africa. The multi-million rand facility is intended to enable local companies of all sizes to become more globally competitive by helping develop “next-generation solutions” for their most pressing business problems.

To this end, the company explained that a team of architects and developers will “help partners and customers explore new ways to grow their businesses, improve processes and optimise the technology they already own.”

MTC manager Markus Hain explained that the centre offers a “boot-camp curriculum” of in-depth software and hardware customisation through a three-stage process of strategy briefings, architectural design, and proof of concept, at no cost.

Exploring possibilities

“It’s about trying to understand what the key business challenges are. We don’t even have to talk about Microsoft technology. We want businesspeople to sit down with IT people and see if their ideas are possible to execute,” he elaborated. 

With many executives seeking quick answers, the MTC architects will spend time understanding the problem and quickly put together a proposed solution. These solutions will also extend strongly to ways of using existing infrastructure, added Hain. “Customers want to know how to wrap a whole new world around older technology. They want to engage with information in new ways,” he continued.

The MTC will also be available to app developers, start-ups and students wanting to test their solutions before taking them to market.

Welcome mat for innovators

On the technological side, the MTC certainly seems up to the task; and the facility equivalent of the techie that seems to have every gadget under the sun. According to Microsoft, it is home to millions of rands worth of hardware and devices from a range of local partners, and includes a data center, fully-equipped developer suite, three ‘envisioning centres’ and a retail store, which is being run in partnership with Incredible Connection.

Mteto Nyati, Microsoft SA’s managing director, explained that the MTC is “a massive investment” in South Africa’s ambition to become a regional technology hub. The centre is also envisioned to play a “major role” in bringing to life the company’s 4Afrika initiative, which was launched earlier this year and aims to drive innovation opportunities, skills development and broadband access on the continent.

“This centre is all about collaboration and building an entire ecosystem of innovation. We want to dramatically speed up the pace of innovation, and help our customers and partners slash the time it takes to get solutions and applications to market,” said Nyati.

To the point

Speaking at the launch of the MTC, Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said it was important that South Africans and Africans develop home-grown technology solutions and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among the youth.

“There has never been a better time for businesses, government and the youth to develop solutions that can address a range of challenges.  Technology hubs like these can only enhance our capacity to provide innovative solutions to the most pressing social and business challenges facing our country and continent,” he concluded.

Suffice to say, Microsoft’s Technology Centre, which is housed at the company’s campus in Bryanston, is yet another welcome piece of this year’s puzzle, encouraging local innovation and development.

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