Published: January 25th, 2016

For the first time in almost a decade Dimension Data Canada will be led by someone other than Wendy Lucas. Former Unis Lumin executive Mike Utsal takes over for her as the new country manager, but he’s not the only new face at the global $6 billion IT services and solution provider that the Canadian market should pay attention to.

New to the role of President of Dimension Data North America is Waheed Choudhry, who previously ran solution provider Nexus IS. Dimension Data acquired Nexus in 2014. Choudhry was instrumental in building Nexus up to a $500 million revenue player and has now set his sights on the Canadian and U.S. market for Dimension Data. Choudhry reports to Mark Slaga the CEO.

He told CDN that he doesn’t want to sound like a “broken record” but the market transition to cloud fits into the company’s consulting and professional services offering well.

Wajeed Choudry
Waheed Choudhry

“The Canadian market is ubiquitous to what customers are looking for around the globe and Dimension Data believes this is a growth market and we have great interest in enterprise level accounts in Canada,” he said.

The Canadian subsidiary will also target commercial and mid-market accounts between 500 to 3,000 staff. “We are looking to change the way they do business because they are challenged with aging infrastructure and they want to get into the digital marketplace,” Choudhry added.

A big step in that direction was the announcement last year to hire 300 data centre professionals to support its Toronto data centre opened in 2014 to be part of 12 Managed Cloud Platform facilities around the world.

The Canadian Managed Cloud Platform is being positioned by Dimension Data as a key differentiator in its business transformational strategy along with providing data sovereignty.

Choudhry said customers looking for cloud infrastructure that need a broad portfolio tend to look at only Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

“Just about every client we talk to uses those two for work and test/development. We find that our uniqueness comes in play in that space around the enterprise for cloud and applications,” he said.

Also part of the package is Dimension Data’s vendor partnerships with Oracle and SAP in which they have developed into Oracle-as-a-Service and SAP-as-a-Service that supports the IAAS offering with EMC and Cisco.

They use its partnership with Microsoft for providing Enterprise Mobility-as-a-Service.

“Customers are looking to consume solutions differently today. Dimension Data allows customers to look at the lens of their own environment for cloud, hybrid or on-premise. We wrap that all up into solution sets we bring to the table along with services in a full consumption model,” Choudhry said.

To support this vision, Utsal has been put in place to further Dimension Data’s business transformation offerings.

Mike Utsal
Mike Utsal

“Mike was a tremendous candidate and he helps us move to the forefront of our strategy. His background speaks volumes. He has the experience and a strong presence in Canada having been in executive-level roles and strategic roles inside of Dimension Data, Cisco and Unis Lumin,” Choudhry said of Utsal.

Canadian Dollar Decline

The weakening Canadian dollar has forced vendors to raise prices in Canada, but Choudhry told CDN that his company is in a unique position to directly bill in 58 countries it does business in including Canada. This enables Dimension Data to better hedge against foreign exchange rates and it also does not prevent the company from making further investments in Canada.

“This is a bigger, global issue in commodities on oil,” he said.

Energy is a major vertical market target of Dimension Data. The struggling sector specific to Alberta has not directly impacted the company as its customer base in that area is still small.

Choudhry believes this will eventually become a good news story for the sector in Canada and the Dimension Data executive said the market will rebound.

The company is involved in many other verticals beyond energy and they focus on a long haul strategy to help these customers drive value by improving productivity through technology and a common user experience.

Internet of Things

One area that is gaining interest in terms of improving productivity is the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon. For Choudhry he believes IoT is merely another name for the shift to digitization. He too sees IoT as a tremendous market opportunity that is being challenged by the many systems of things in place. Choudhry said all these elements make it hard for customers to focus on any one particular thing.

For Dimension Data its focus for IoT will centre on Big Data with sensors capturing data in hopes of enabling users to make better, more informed business decisions.

“What’s exciting about this is that it allows us to think big and dream with the customer on what they want to do with their businesses. It is going to be a great challenge for all of us. There is so much that is possible in IoT and digitization for driving value and profitability,” Choudhry said.

He added there are profits in the IoT space today if solution providers can cut through the complexity and deliver a system that can take advantage of the analytics. IoT fits into Dimension Data’s business transformation strategy with its cloud offerings, professional services and managed services globally. Dimension Data plans to make more investments in this new business opportunity, Choudhry said.

One example of this is what it produced for the 102nd edition of the Tour De France cycling race. The company provided real-time race analytics for all competitors along with fans and the media.

The Tour De France and DiData

The 2015 Tour De France consisted of 198 participants; part of 22 teams. The teams also employ more than 300 support staff helping these riders win stages. Each racer had a sensor under the saddle of the bicycle. The sensor was able to determine cyclists are capable of speeds up to 104 kilometres per hour. This type of data collection was never possible before.

For the 2,000 members of the accredited media, Dimension Data captured analytics that showed highest and lowest average speed per racer, the distance between first and last competitor, and highest sprint speeds for each stage of the race.

Perrig Quemeneur was the first winner of the digital jersey
Perrig Quemeneur was the first winner of the digital jersey

Last year’s race also incorporated social media as Dimension Data was able to track Tweets from fans to determine which racer distinguished himself as the most aggressive, producing the greatest effort during the stage, and demonstrating sportsmanship. The winner was presented with the digital jersey in three of the stages of the Tour De France. Frenchman Perrig Quemeneur of the Coureur Cycliste Pro Team Direct Energie team was the first winner of the grey jersey.

After the race, won by Chris Froome of Great Britain for the Sky Team, Dimension Data captured data from 42,000 geospatial points and 75 million GPS readings.