Dimension Data has always been distinctive amongst the overcrowded IT infrastructure services market place due to the simple fact that it is the only global player to stake a leadership position that has originated from an emerging market.
From humble beginnings in South Africa in 1983, where it was rightly limited to operating only in the domestic market due to the political environment Dimension Data has thrived through partnerships and global acquisitions as the barriers of Apartheid were lifted.
It was one of the first 6 global partners of Cisco (who naturally refused to do business with it during apartheid) and has grown to arguably become Cisco’s strongest partner. All that is history, it is now a strong subsidiary of NTT employing 28,000 people.
In May this year, Dimension Data held the Perspective 2015 Industry Analyst Event in Prague, Czech Republic. Like the location, the event was a unique experience. When analyzing the various market players, capioIT has always believed that the strength of culture is critical from the leadership to the delivery teams.
In light of this understanding of the importance of culture, it is clear that Dimension Data has an executive team that is unique in the tech industry, particularly in the global IT firms. The leadership team of Dimension Data largely consists of South African, Australian and British nationals. It does not have a large number of Americans the top leadership roles.
This in itself is so differentiated from the US, European or Asian based vendors. The key determining factor of Dimension Data is the revenue split is well spread geographically. Because no one region dominates it has appeared to have developed an egalitarian approach. The level of executive team professional and social rapport that I have observed over the years is much more collegial and positive than virtually any other firm that I know.
It was amusing to watch the US and European based analysts try to understand the culture and ribbing or gentle mocking that went back and forth between the Dimension Data leadership team particularly around cricket and rugby results. No New York Yankees or Lionel Messi references at this event, it was all about Australia’s Cricket World Cup success.
Clearly NTT have identified the management approach, and the contrast with the NTT approach. It appears that the mother ship has rightly decided to leave it alone. The challenge for Dimension Data will be if the management team is disrupted. If the CEO Brett Dawson were to retire, and the successor come from within, then this of course could have a disruptive impact on the overall culture
What does this really mean? – Without attracting suggestions of naivety, the management team appears to work for each other and have each-others back. This is more than I can say for many more traditional management teams particularly those that are dominated by one geography or service line. The benefits for clients, employees and partners that flow from a cohesive aligned management team is significant, highly valued, yet difficult to find.
If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, Founder capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted by email below,