Dimension Data concludes job cuts as firm takes new course

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Grant Bodley, CEO of Dimension Data.
Grant Bodley, CEO of Dimension Data.

Systems integrator Dimension Data has concluded its retrenchment process as the company consolidates.

This was revealed by Dimension Data founder and executive chairman Jeremy Ord and CEO Grant Bodley, in an exclusive interview with ITWeb.

In May, ITWeb first reported that through a Section 189 process, the company anticipated that approximately 480 employees may leave the business.

This as the four brands of Dimension Data, Internet Solutions, Britehouse and ContinuitySA will be brought together into a single operating entity, trading under the Dimension Data name.

The retrenchments came following an announcement in March that the company was remodelling its business, which saw four of its companies come back in the fold to operate under one name.

The systems integrator will officially announce its “one Dimension Data strategy” next week.

“There were people who were impacted as part of this process. We saw about 480 people exit our business, unfortunately. All of that has now been concluded and we are moving forward as one united organisation operating under a single name,” said Bodley.

“We had a number of brands and companies and there was a lot of overlap and duplications; and with the one Dimension Data strategy, it’s about bringing together all the different companies and having a very powerful offering to our client base wherever they are,” Ord said.

From humble beginnings

Ord founded Dimension Data in 1983 and his roles within the company have been that of managing director, chief executive officer and executive chairman.

According to Ord, the direction that Dimension Data is taking is completely different from the early 80s. In the 80s, he said, the business was very much an infrastructure business which was mostly hardware-driven and controlled by computer communications.

“In 1993, the PC had just been introduced and we had to connect the PCs to mainframe computers and the big servers as we know them today. So that was the challenge those days, a challenge that we understood from a technical point of view.”

He added that things then moved on quite quickly and the business expanded as connectivity became the norm.

The types of software also changed continuously from being predominantly IBM software those days, Ord said.

“So the whole market has moved – the world has become global and, as such, we have to become a global player in terms of providing services to our client base all over the world. We expanded our business into 55 different territories around the world.”

He also reminisces on the time when Dimension Data was acquired by Japan-based Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) in 2010 in a £2.1 billion deal.

“We started in 1983, and in 1987, we listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and this was a big milestone for a very small company that was involved in the technology industry and no one knew what we did. So it was quite important.”

Moving to 1994, Ord said, SA became a democracy and the country broke out from being an isolated country.

He explained that before then, it was difficult to trade and keep up with technologies around the world. “During those days, you had to learn a lot – you needed great skills and to become self-sufficient. We manufactured our own products and created all kinds of solutions using our own brain power and manpower.

“After 1994, we moved back mainstream in terms of the global IT business. My first major move then was to purchase a company in Australia – which is still part of Dimension Data today – and then moving into Asia and creating a new business there.”

Jeremy Ord, founder and executive chairman of Dimension Data.
Jeremy Ord, founder and executive chairman of Dimension Data.

Global player

From 1995 to about 2000, said Ord, it was about expansion around the globe, setting up businesses in Australia, Asia, South America, North America and Europe.

“In 2000, we were able to list the company in London. That was the time we started believing that software and hardware need to come together, hence we listed in London because we needed to raise money to buy into software companies.”

He pointed out that 2001 was a major turning point for everyone as the market collapsed after Y2K. “The whole IT industry collapsed and everybody went back to their original kind of business.

“During that time, we laid off about 3 500 people from 2001 to 2003. We learnt a lot of lessons and that was very painful for the company. But we did emerge afterwards in 2003 and from then, we grew right up to 2010 when NTT bought the company from our major shareholders and ourselves.

“From then on till 2019, we traded around the world as Dimension Data. Around 2020, the rest of the world started trading as NTT Dimension Data group of companies, except Africa. Middle East and Africa continued as Dimension Data.”

The reason for that is the brand name of Dimension Data is very strong in Africa, whereas NTT has no brand presence in Africa or the Middle East, Ord explained.

“We grew the company from a R300 000 company to $15 billion company. It has become a very large company employing about 40 000 people across the globe. That has been a very incredible journey and I am very proud to be an African company.

“I think we are the very best-kept African secret. We are a massive company in global IT terms but we are a very well-kept secret even in South Africa – people don’t really understand how big Dimension Data is, employing thousands of people in this country. And we would want to continue with the brand and the name, hence we adjust our strategy all the time.”

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