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Interview: Dimension Data’s Absa Cape Epic feat

With the evolution of technology as an integral component of the sporting experience, Dimension Data’s extensive portfolio of solutions and services provide a strong foothold to move these experiences toward becoming increasingly digitised.

These include enabling critical medical services at the race and international journalist the ability to receive and deliver HD content across the globe, as well as connect riders to their families back home. 

We recently sat down with Dimension Data MEA’s Marketing and Sales director, Albi van Zyl and Absa Cape Epic Race Founder, Kevin Vermaak on what makes this such a great partnership. Hit the break for our Q&A interview. 

Looking at your Absa Cape Epic partnership, please tell us about your approach towards the event and solutions provided this year.

2018 was Dimension Data’s 4th year as technology partner and sponsor for the Absa Cape Epic. In 2015, we focused on providing a redundant, high quality and wired network, dedicated bandwidth of 200Mbps per site on fibre and 50Mbps satellite backup capacity. Over the years, we have upped the bandwidth significantly and introduced technology innovation streams, enabled by, but adjacent to the base connectivity solution. 

The image above is of the race village infrastructure. Dimension Data’s solutions need to be deployed in extremely short timespans, closely monitored with advanced tools and managed for any eventuality the extremity of the event throws at you. Every day during the race, the same infrastructure has to be de-installed, packed, transported to the next site and reinstalled in record time.

In recent years, your wireless connection solutions received the most attention at Absa Cape Epic. This year however, you offered the race a more 360 connectivity approach. What are the highlights of the event in terms of connectivity this year?

Dimension Data’s solution has changed how the event is operated and our solution has seen significant uplift from the first year. In particular, the close monitoring of management of available bandwidth in the middle of nowhere has been an important factor, as the race village and its constituents have different priorities and needs during the day and night and as the race progresses. So, Dimension Data has enabled the event to do more with what they have, with the use of monitoring and tuning tools, the example below.

What is the response from the market in South Africa and Africa to connectivity solutions demonstrated at the Absa Cape Epic?

Dimension Data’s corporate client base – both as riders, guests and visitors – that see a live village in action are impressed by Team Dimension Data’s capability to plan, execute and operate a full enterprise-class wired and wireless network in remote locations, doing so securely and reliably. They appreciate the cross-functional skill set across the entire IT stack that is required to pull this together, and the teamwork and professionalism required to do so under significant pressures, reflecting the ethos and culture of Dimension Data.

The media and the fan base has benefited most from our ability to bring the race closer to them. Firstly, in the innovation of the live streaming on all days of the race, where only the Prologue and Grand Finale had limited live TV time before. 


What is next for Dimension Data in Africa in terms of business expansion and partnerships for 2018?

In 2018 we expanded our collaboration with the Absa Cape Epic team to further the data mining and predictive analytics, machine learning and built on the 2017 introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and mountain bike instrumentation proof of concepts that we ran. It is a very exciting field and the insights are sure to flow to public consumption soon and as the Absa Cape Epic series expands globally.

We have also seen that the innovation collaboration for the event has led to significant business partnerships with our co-sponsors, where we have created symbiotic innovation leaps through the event that are imbedded into our everyday operations.

What do you think are next big technologies that are going to carry over from business to the consumer side?

The IoT, both for race planning, execution and rider safety, and Machine Learning in the race context and in the further digitisation of the rider experience: pre-, during and post-event. This includes 360 video augmented reality of the route in advance, Siri/Cortana with all the answers and suggestions specific to the race for riders and fans, as well as a digital post-race pack (think Strava-relive on steroids).

What do you think are going to be the biggest technological trends in 2018?

As regards technology for this event and the sports industry in general.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.