In Kenya’s bustling tech industry, one company has stood the test of time, continuously adapting to the ever-evolving IT landscape and emerging as a trailblazer in the field. Copy Cat Group established in 1984 by Mr. Rajoo Patel and Mr. Nazir Noordin, has transformed from a provider of office automation services to a leading force in the IT solutions market. Most Kenyans may not be aware but the company is behind the scenes in so many aspects of our daily lives. Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Nadeem Noordin, the Director of IT Business at Copy Cat Group, to gain insights into the company’s journey, challenges, and future prospects.
History of Innovation:
Copy Cat Group traces its roots back to 1984 when two visionary entrepreneurs, Mr. Patel and Mr. Noordin, recognized a gap in the office automation industry. Armed with a shared vision of providing reliable office equipment and exceptional technical support, they embarked on a journey that would shape the IT landscape of Kenya.
In January 1985, Copy Cat opened its doors for business in Nairobi, specializing in office automation services and furniture. Photocopiers, fax machines, shredders, and safes were among the range of products offered. This marked the beginning of Copy Cat’s successful journey in the technology realm.
In the 1990s, Copy Cat Group. faced the winds of change as the IT world underwent a revolution. The rising demands of customers and technological advancements posed challenges that required a paradigm shift in the company’s approach.
Mr. Noordin shared how they recognized the importance of addressing customers’ needs beyond just selling equipment. They understood that businesses were seeking effective solutions to their challenges,. This led them to pivot and focus on innovative IT solutions. This strategic shift involved significant investments in research, development, and partnerships with technology providers and experts.
By embracing this transformation, Copy Cat positioned itself as a pioneer in the IT solutions market. Offering comprehensive and integrated solutions, the company successfully addressed the evolving needs of its customers, staying competitive in the rapidly changing industry.
Office Automation to Comprehensive IT Solutions
Copy Cat’s journey from an office automation outfit to a fully integrated IT solutions provider was characterized by continuous evolution and groundbreaking technologies. Their commitment to exceptional skills, service, and support earned them a stellar reputation in the industry. Having the right people who are skilled and knowledgeable has helped Copy Cat grow to be trusted by its partners over the years. Speaking of skilled individuals, over 95% of Copy Cat’s IT division is made up of local talent. The other 5%, according to the company, are necessary as it needs to have individuals with experience deploying larger and more complex environments.
The company has Senior-level architects responsible for Infrastructure, Connectivity, Security, Applications and Cloud solutions. They can access a company’s entire environment from power supply to how you virtualize your environment. The architects then advise on the improvements a business can implement and create a roadmap to be followed. According to Mr. Noordin, this approach moves the company from simply selling products to positioning solutions for its customers.
Over the years, Copy Cat expanded its portfolio to include cash-handling solutions and world-class enterprise system integration services. This diversification enabled them to offer a one-stop-shop for all enterprise technology requirements, including IT infrastructure, connectivity, collaboration, security, cloud, applications, and managed services.
Copy Cat’s dedication to excellence and continuous innovation helped them become a trusted provider in the realm of enterprise technology. Today, many Kenyans interact with systems built and supported by Copy Cat, unknowingly benefiting from their expertise. The keyword here is enterprise technology; the company is clear that it mainly focuses on enterprise customers.
Copy Cat also has Tier 1 partnerships with all the vendors they deal with. This means that they deal with the manufacturers directly and not through distributors. This goes a long way in optimizing the costs as no middlemen are in the picture throughout the whole process. “One key advantage of being the first local company to introduce these global partners to our markets is that we are always at the forefront of what is happening globally. This enables us to bring the latest technology advancements to our customers, ensuring they remain competitive and ahead of the curve,” said Mr. Noordin.
Implementing solutions for its clients is always a complex task and Copy Cat approaches this by having experienced and knowledgeable project managers. The company has invested heavily in project management as it regularly handles multiyear and complex projects. For these to succeed, having a competent team and plan is crucial.
Staying Ahead of Technological Advancements
When I asked how they stay at the forefront of technological advancements, Mr. Noordin said, “Copy Cat Group is actively adapting and leveraging emerging technologies to maintain a competitive edge in the market. We understand the importance of staying ahead and continue to invest a significant amount of time researching the latest trends and
innovations.” He continued by saying that Copy Cat also engages in extensive benchmarking against global leaders and make strategic investments in developing the necessary skills. “By doing so, we stay informed about the latest advancements and are well-equipped to bring these solutions to the market effectively,” he added.
Copy Cat is clear that they do not just adopt new technologies for the sake of it. The company’s primary goal is to provide solutions that add value to our customers and their end users. They thoroughly analyze the potential impact of these technologies on their customers’ businesses and work towards developing solutions that align with their unique needs and goals.
“For instance, while cloud technology has been a buzzword for some time now, we approach its deployment in enterprise environments with caution, particularly considering factors such as data protection regulations, like Kenya’s Data Protection Act. We strive to strike a balance between agility, innovation, and governance, ensuring that our solutions enable our customers to embrace new technologies while adhering to compliance requirements,” the company added.
Partnership with Safaricom
A crucial aspect of Copy Cat’s success lies in its strategic partnerships with global solution providers. Collaborations with tried and tested companies enable Copy Cat to offer proven and effective solutions to its customers. Additionally, shared brand values and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction strengthen these collaborations. This ensures exceptional experiences for clients.
One long-standing and significant partnership is with Safaricom, dating back nearly two decades. From delivering IP next-generation networks to providing comprehensive services in systems architecture, design, and support, Copy Cat and Safaricom have evolved from mere product suppliers to trusted partners. Their collaboration includes hosting services, turn-key managed networks, and custom mobile applications that cater to the diverse needs of businesses of all sizes.
Key Challenges and Opportunities
As Copy Cat and Safaricom navigate the ever-evolving IT landscape, they recognize both challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
- Rapid Technological Advancements: One of the key challenges on the horizon is the relentless pace of technological advancements. Emerging technologies and trends are constantly reshaping the industry. To stay competitive, Copy Cat and Safaricom must remain agile and adapt swiftly to changes. Continuous learning, investment in research and development, and a proactive approach to incorporating new technologies will be essential to meet the evolving needs and preferences of customers.
- Heightened Cybersecurity Threats: With the increasing adoption of digital transformation, organizations face heightened cybersecurity risks. Data breaches, hacking attempts, and privacy concerns are ever-present challenges that demand robust security measures.
- Growing Demand for Digital Transformation: On the flip side, the widespread adoption of digital transformation represents significant opportunities for growth. Businesses across sectors are embracing digital solutions to enhance efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
- Mobile and Instant Services: The increasing demand for mobile and instant services presents a compelling opportunity for Copy Cat and Safaricom. By closely collaborating with Safaricom, Copy Cat can tap into Safaricom’s extensive network and expertise in mobile technology. This partnership can lead to the delivery of seamless and user-friendly experiences for customers, meeting their expectations for convenience and speed.
- Comprehensive and Integrated IT Solutions: As organizations seek to transform digitally, there is a growing need for comprehensive and integrated IT solutions. Copy Cat and Safaricom can position themselves as strategic partners, offering end-to-end managed connectivity, enterprise, and application solutions catering to the evolving requirements of large and small businesses. This approach ensures a seamless experience for customers, from initial implementation to ongoing support.
Notable Achievements and Milestones
Looking to the future, Copy Cat Group envisions an environment where technology is seamlessly integrated into every aspect of business operations. This can help empower organizations to thrive in the digital age. Throughout its journey, Copy Cat has achieved numerous milestones that have shaped its trajectory. An essential milestone was the expansion of its regional presence in 1994, allowing them to reach a broader customer base and deliver innovative solutions across borders.
Copy Cat’s contributions have been particularly notable in sectors like banking systems, government data centers, security environments, and mission-critical applications. Successfully executing some of the largest and most complex technology deployments, they have empowered businesses with enhanced efficiency, security, and operational excellence.