Why Dimension Data chose to consolidate its sub-brands and what that means moving forward

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Last week Dimension Data made a rather significant announcement regarding the future of the company, with the decision taken to consolidate all its sub-brands into a monolithic brand.

The decision is one that Dimension Data has mulled over for some time, and after much consideration, has chosen to do so as the company aims to align more closely with what its clients and customers have been asking for.

To gain a bit more insight into the decision, how it came about, what changes will result from it, as well as what it means for employees of the aforementioned sub-brands, we spoke with CEO, Grant Bodley.

Here’s what Bodley had to say, and why 2020 could prove a defining year for the company.

Hypertext: Now that Dimension Data has made the decision to consolidate all its sub-brands, can you unpack the reasons as to how it came about?

Grant Bodley: It’s not something that we’ve taken lightly. It’s something that we’ve debated during many instances over the years.

The primary drivers behind this, is us looking at our strategy moving forward, and making sure that we have an outside-in client-led approach. It’s important that we set ourselves up for growth and that we are appropriate for the market.

One of the key drivers for this, is that in some some instances we have competing offerings from different brands. This led to sales people competing with each other in order to sign a client, instead of selling what is right for the client.

Our view is that we’d rather have our people competing in the market and not competing internally.

The other big decider for us is the fact that we’re seeing a lot of technology convergence. If you look at Dimension Data and our group of companies, we provide an end-to-end value proposition, and that technology convergence resulted in many grey areas in terms of which brand handled what, and some confusion among clients.

Our clients have been saying for many years that we do business with Dimension Data, and how you’re organised internally is not of interest to us. They want a single contract, single experience, so for us it was about responding to that specific request.

Other factors included the fact that there was a lot of duplication within the business. You had Internet Solutions (which is owned by Dimension Data) investing in the development of an SD-WAN offering, and the Dimension Data systems integration business would be doing the same thing.

Bringing all these brands together, now addresses many of those issues.

Hypertext: Moving all the sub-brands under one unifying brand is no doubt a mammoth logistical task. When are you aiming to begin and conclude this process?

GB: We recently held a day two-day long strategy conference where we interacted with our top leaders, to not only explain the rationale behind this decision, but the execution milestones they can expect over the next few months.

In terms of milestones, we will be communicating internally what the new management structure will look like before 1st April.

Then, from 1st April we will be managing the business according to the newly defined go-to market strategy of Dimension Data. By 1st July, reordering and restructuring needs to take place, and we aim to fully retire the brand by 1st October.

The most important thing to us, is not to disrupt our clients and their business during this process.

Hypertext: A recent Mail & Guardian article described the consolidation move as monolithic. What are your thoughts on such a characterisation of Dimension Data? 

GB: Well I think it’s important to create clarity, and when we talk about monolithic, it’s not as a company, but as a brand.

Agility still remains incredibly important to us, so the moment I hear monolithic, I worry that we lose nimbleness and agility.

Hypertext: Given the scale of the move, there will certainly concerns from employees about restructuring. Are you planning to do so, and have you discussed it with employees yet?

GB: That is indeed a question that our employees, and the market, are interested in.

What I’ve explained to our employees so far is that this is a question of growth, and this is a decision made by choice, it’s not something that has been forced upon us.

We’re restructuring from a strong position, and where we do so, we need to ensure that there is stability.

Where there is duplication, then of course we need to make the hard decision as a business, and remove that duplication. That duplication can be people, it can be systems, it could be processes, and in our business, there are examples of all of those.

So there will be people who are impacted by this.

At the same time we’re also going to be investing. We know that there are certain skills and competencies that we would like more of. So part of our planning is that a significant number of the new people that we bring in will have certain skills.

Hypertext: If you’re considering areas where skills are required, is Dimension Data looking at re-skilling or up-skilling current staff to fill that need?

GB: Of course. We’re a people-first company, and these changes will no doubt be stressful for our employees, so whatever we do, we try to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible.

Where there are people who have the potential to be re-skilled or take on new opportunities, we will do so. We will consider every avenue.

When we look at skills, much of the need will be on the technical side of things, which is where a lot of duplication sits within our business.

Hypertext: Dimension Data recently announced that it achieved Level 2 B-BBEE status. How does this new move impact that, and will the firm push to reach a higher status?

GB: Yes, we announced that in November of last year. We’re now sitting at a 51 percent black-ownership and 30 percent black female-ownership within the business.

We are a Level 2 with aspirations to be a Level 1. We also do not foresee this recent sub-brands decision as having any material impact on our overall B-BBEE ratings.

These are considerations you take into account when making a decision of this magnitude, and we’re comfortable following all of our calculations as to what may or may not happen to our rating scorecard.

Hypertext: Lastly, from a superficial standpoint, can we expect any new branding or logo as a result of this shift to a monolithic brand?

GB: Absolutely. If one had to be critical of Dimension Data in terms of the local geography, we’ve been somewhat quiet.

With this new move, we’re looking at the entire brand. This includes our tag lines, our values and other elements, which we’re really excited about.

We will be introducing something new into the market as we retire these other brands.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.