As it prepared to launch its IBM Connections Cloud platform to enterprises across Africa, CloudHop wanted to inspire prospects to embrace its new approach to collaboration—but how?
The company curated a four-day seminar—named CloudHop University—at the IBM Innovation Center in Nairobi, enabling IT buyers to get hands-on experience in IBM’s own Connections Cloud environment.
Allowsprospects to experience an extensive real-world IBM Connections Cloud environment
Sparksnew use cases by bringing together IT buyers with peers from different industries
Inspiredfour leading enterprises in Kenya to migrate to the CloudHop solution
Business challenge story
Targeting best-in-class collaboration
Whether your business employs ten people or 10,000, well-oiled collaboration can make the difference between surging into the lead in your marketplace or falling to the back of the pack. CloudHop, a specialist provider of managed services solutions in East Africa, recognized a major opportunity to help businesses across the region gain the benefits of seamless collaboration.
Nadeem Noordin, Co-chief Executive Officer at CloudHop, explains: “For more than six years, we’ve worked closely with large and small businesses across East Africa—and when it came to collaboration, we were hearing the same pain points time and again.
“Many executive-level leaders told us that their organizations were overwhelmed by email. Because their people were swamped with messages, it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain productivity—especially for large and fast-growing companies. We quickly realized that enterprise clients had specific needs that weren’t being addressed by the commodity software-as-a-service [SaaS] collaboration tools we were offering at the time.”
To solve the challenge, CloudHop shaped a next-generation social collaboration solution based on IBM Connections Cloud and IBM Watson® Workspace.
Keval Shah, Co-chief Executive Officer at CloudHop, continues: “Email can provide a veneer of efficiency. It’s easy to fall into the trap of responding to messages but not taking the required action, which can push important tasks out of sight and out of mind. Our IBM Connections Cloud solution empowers employees to assign tasks, manage projects and track goals in digital communities, while IBM Watson Workspace automatically summarizes conversations and helps them prioritize the most important next steps to drive a project forward.”
CloudHop aimed to help enterprises with heavily dispersed teams move at the speed of 21st-century businesses—but traditional approaches to marketing made it difficult to catch the attention of its target market.
“Our mission is to transform the way that enterprises collaborate, and to achieve that goal we needed buy-in from key influencers at our prospects’ businesses,” adds Noordin. “If we could get IT buyers and application owners engaged with the benefits of social collaboration, we were confident they would become evangelists for our platform within their company.
“We wanted to do more than just talk to prospects about our platform at product launch events. Instead, we looked for a way to help them discover the potential of CloudHop for themselves in a compelling, hands-on way.”
Testing a new approach
To achieve its marketing goals, CloudHop teamed up with IBM to launch CloudHop University: a four-day seminar event at the IBM Innovation Center in Nairobi, Kenya.
“The idea for CloudHop University came to us when we were throwing ideas back and forth in a meeting with IBM,” recalls Noordin. “We wanted to bring the prospects who would actually be using the collaboration apps together in a room so that they could try our solution, ask questions and experiment with real-world use cases. IBM was keen to help, and offered us the ideal venue for the event and their own Connections Cloud environment—comprising more than 400,000 global users—to use in our demonstrations.”
Shah adds: “We recognized that our prospects would be taking time out of their busy workdays to join us, so we wanted to ensure that we were delivering the most valuable experience we could. We carefully planned practical examples of typical collaboration use cases in preparation for the event, which also allowed us to anticipate and prepare detailed answers to likely questions about deployment, integration and security.
“The IBM Connections Cloud platform has a range of security features and hybrid capabilities, which means that it is architected differently to other native cloud platforms. As a result, new users have an opportunity to re-think their approach to permissions when they migrate their existing data to Connections Cloud. For example, we wanted to highlight how enterprises could use digital communities to share files rather than sending files via email—greatly improving efficiency.”
In partnership with IBM, CloudHop completed its first university event, arranged into breakout sessions with speakers from IBM and CloudHop.
“Throughout CloudHop University, we ran seminars showing the seamless integration between email and task assignment in IBM Connections Cloud,” Noordin explains. “Our speakers demonstrated how users can add colleagues to meetings easily, share and edit documents collaboratively, and create fine-grained permissions for files stored in Box Enterprise—enabling internal and external shareholders to participate in discussions in a security-rich way. We showcased a new way of working that isn’t predicated on checking emails, calling dozens of people to try and arrange meetings, or digging vital documents out of inboxes—and it had a powerful impact.”
Scoring top marks
The first CloudHop University attracted 85 participants from across a wide range of industries and company sizes—from small professional services firms with 20 employees to multinational fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers, government bodies, banks and insurance companies.
“One of the best things about having such a diverse user base together in one place is the way it sparks the imagination and catalyzes new ideas,” says Noordin. “We participated in numerous fascinating conversations between prospects from different industries, which led to use cases that we might not otherwise have considered.”
Shah continues: “For example, one financial services firm that provides agricultural loans had the idea to create a virtual loan structuring officer for their representatives in the field. Based on IBM Watson Workspace, the app would enable employees to input a farmer’s loan requests via a chatbot, and see the optimal loan they could offer based on their past repayment performance.”
He continues: “Migrating to collaboration in the cloud is a significant commitment—and in the past, it would typically take us four weeks and many hours of meetings to get the chance to present our approach to a prospect’s c-level executives.
“Thanks to CloudHop University, we succeeded in convincing dozens of technical buyers of the merits of our solution within a matter of days, which enabled us to start having executive-level conversions almost immediately. In fact, we have already signed up four large enterprises to our IBM Connections Cloud solution as a direct result of the event, and we are confident that more attendees will follow.”
Based on the success of the first CloudHop University, the company is already planning its next event.
“Without a doubt, our hands-on approach has proven to be a tremendously effective way to engage with prospects, and the feedback from the first event has been resoundingly positive,” concludes Noordin. “We created a space for our prospects to have vibrant conversations, come up with innovative use cases and shine a light on ways to improve their organizations’ approaches to collaboration—and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the approach to other businesses like ours.”
About CloudHop University
Founded in 2012, Cloud Hop Ltd. is a leading managed services provider. Operating across East Africa and Mauritius, CloudHop specializes in software-, platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service solutions to help enterprises reduce their costs and focus on core competencies.
- Box Enterprise
- Connections Cloud (SaaS)
- Verse on Cloud (SaaS)
- Watson Workspace
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Connections Cloud, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/us-en/marketplace/enterprise-social-collaboration