Edgar Maistry, MD at JumpCo illustrates how their business approach opportunity while always focusing on giving back.
COVER: It was very interesting to read about JumpCO as it is quite a diverse group. Please give us an overview of the group.
Edgar: JumpCO started in 1998 as TSC, which stood for Treasury Systems Consulting. Subsequently, we changed the name to JumpCO as we did very little work in the treasury space. Shortly after its inception, JumpCO became an IBM Business Partner, laying down Integration platforms using an IBM Messaging Broker, now called App Connect Enterprise(ACE). We have since been developing automation and document management systems using IBM BPM and IBM FileNet as well as providing asynchronous messaging using IBM MQ. Over the years, we have evolved with IBM technologies, and we have added IBM Data power, as well as API Connect and IBM Cloud Pak offerings.
As a group, we have always been interested in skills development, especially within the SA context. So, to this end, we started a division called JumpCO Software Labs. That was about 18 years ago, training young South Africans with an aptitude for software development in the IBM and Java space.
This programme has created more than 400 jobs in the industry and is now MICT SETA accredited. We run programmes with our clients, where we give them the option to employ these young learners and interns once they are qualified, and that way the clients can also invest in this programme. The JumpCO Software Labs continues, and it is also spawned off an NGO called JumpStart. This NGO focuses on the digital education space in public and private schools. So, Jumpstart is now funded by the Old Mutual, The Dell Foundation, Sasol and other large funders. JumpStart supports over 22,000 learners and is growing.
We have a third entity that is part of the JumpCO group called JumpCO Digital. JumpCO Digital owns a platform called JumpTrak, which is a digital education platform. This is marketed to the private school sector, universities and corporates as a Learning Management System and a Digital Campus.
COVER: So, as the need arises out of what you are doing, that morphs into more business to take care of that need, which is brilliant. Your website says that you have been involved in digital transformation on the continent since 2000, which is quite a while. Could you tell us a bit about your experience of digital transformation in Africa?
Edgar: Starting with South Africa, we have been involved in several industries. But most especially in the insurance, banking, retail, some government and telcos space as well. But over and above that, we have been involved in lots of projects in the South African context. But beyond the borders, we have also been involved in Nigeria. We have done quite a few projects in Nigeria, but the two most notable projects were a cardless project that we did several years ago for one of the large Nigerian banks. You will be familiar with cardless transactions like E-wallet. This was done quite a few years back, before we started the E-wallet in South Africa.
We have more recently been busy with a project called Ethics First, and which is run out of Nigeria and funded by a US NGO called CIPE. It first allows companies to develop anti-corruption, corporate governance, and ethical frameworks and practices and eventually benefit from exposure to potential
investors or business partners. The whole aim of this project is to try to stamp out corruption in Africa and foster fair play between businesses. We have also done much work in Kenya, at Kenyan commercial bank and Stanbic Kenya. At KCB, which is Kenyan Commercial Bank, we have laid down an integration architecture, and helped KCB deliver the first ESB using IBM Integration Buss, IBM MQ and IBM DataPower. We helped Kenya Stanbic by assessing their current integration architecture and proposing a technology roadmap involving IBM Integration products as well.
COVER: That gives you three basic main tech hubs, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa that you are focusing on now. I am especially interested in the consulting side. The name JumpCO, it is almost like bringing people up to a next level. Could you tell us what your consulting value proposition is?
Edgar: We provide end-to-end software development solutions to our clients. This goes from product inception, where the client wants to build a product. When they have thought about it, we come in from inception and we do the business analysis, we do the technical architecture, we develop the product, and we go into support and maintenance. If the client wants to take over the project, they can, or we go into a support and maintenance phase of the project.
JumpCO consists of experienced consultants including Product Owners, Business Analysts, Scrum Masters, Project Managers, Architects, Developers, Technical leads, Testers, Trainers and Support Personnel. Basically, everything you need to deliver an ICT project.
COVER: When we talk about partnerships in the digital space, and in the digital process, that is what this is all about nowadays, collaboration and partnerships. What is your approach to this and how do you manage that across such a diverse business?
Edgar: Like you said, partnerships are crucial and JumpCO cannot do everything. There are areas where we would not venture into because it is not our domain. So, we focus on our strengths, and we partner with other proven and trusted relationships. We augment our teams using these trusted partners. Our niche offering is essentially IBM Integration and Automation, and solutions in the cloud. Then, with anything beyond that, we would partner with other players in the market.
COVER: Anything interesting that you are currently working on, or have recently been working on?
Edgar: We have been busy with a Sanlam project called E-NNUITY. The development started in 2007, which is a good 14 years ago. It has been in production using IBM WebSphere Application Server, since early 2008. We upgraded to newer versions of WebSphere without any problems, and I cannot really remember the system being down, ever. Further to this, the application development environment is hosted on IBM Cloud, which is also called IBM SoftLayer. The last four years have been very exciting on this project, because we have added a whole lot of new features, lots of performance improvements, and we have kept up to date with the latest technology trends as well by upgrading the project.
One of our more recent projects that I have mentioned, and I will just briefly mention it again, is a project called Ethics First, for a company called CIPE, which stands for Centre for International Private Enterprise. Ethics First allows companies to develop anti-corruption, corporate governance and ethics frameworks and practices that eventually benefit from exposure to potential investors or business partners.
This is quite exciting and close to our hearts because we would like to see fair play as well as corruption being stamped out in business.