“There can be no doubt that businesses have to employ technology if they hope to compete,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom. “When it comes to investing in cloud computing and virtualization, the return on investment may very well be the ability to remain in business.”
1. VoIP and mobile telephony
According to a 2008 BMI-TechKnowledge study comparing SA’s telecoms and broadband performance (services and pricing) with five “peer” countries (Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia and South Korea), South Africa’s fixed line situation is similarly challenged. We’re definitely seeing a demise in the number of landlines being installed, with big implications for telephony. The trend is not alarming – in developed countries, landlines have decreased by almost 10% since 2001. In related matters, there has been a 13.7% increase in ADSL subscribers to 795 000 – 19.5% of the fixed line base (around 4 million). In other words, while fixed line penetration is waning, ADSL is growing in absolute numbers and as a percentage of fixed line installations.
By and large, the gap will be filled by mobile and wireless solutions, but also by networked voice (VoIP) offerings from a plethora of alternative telcos. VoIP is making increasing inroads, worldwide as well as in South Africa. The technology is strong in greenfields implementations (new companies or branches) and as replacements of end-of-life analogue systems.
Should the public telecoms infrastructure become more IP-centric, businesses might find themselves in the communication wilderness – with outdated equipment and lack of support.
2. The rise of on-demand call centres
Virtualisation has meant that call centres are able to grow or shrink their agent pool according to demand, without resource concerns such as bandwidth and scale of application support. For call centres to be able to compete, changes must happen at the speed of business without being charged for excess capacity.
Business will have to access this elasticity (provided by virtualization) to compete, partnering with companies that deliver bandwidth and application resources as a managed service.
Non-virtualised call centres are by their very nature over-provisioned to cater for times of peak performance. The adverse effect of that is that they are often underutilised, as their spare capacity cannot be divorced from the underlying infrastructure to be put to better use elsewhere – which makes it even more difficult to compete with their cost-effective, on-demand counterparts.
3. Cloud computing
This ties into the consolidation of data centre resources – allowing not only call centres but other enterprises to take advantage of the ease of management and improved utilisation of standard, rationalised infrastructure. This has several spinoff advantages; including the ability to deploy a small IT team to manage the much smaller, standardised data centre footprint, as well as a smaller carbon footprint.
Virtualisation can further be deployed on the client’s premises by simply slotting into the client’s virtual environment, with the benefit of greater control over infrastructure for the client. In the case of desktop virtualisation, call centres can make use of virtual agents who can work from home in flexible working arrangements that cut down on travel and base camp real estate.
Technology equips companies with the ability to lower operational overheads, optimise capacity and control their existing resources more effectively. The question isn’t whether you should be investing in the technology, but when to invest.
About Connection Telecom
Connection Telecom was founded in 2004 as a pioneering independent provider of proven carrier-grade IP PBX solutions to Southern African businesses. Since then, it has built on its telecommunication experience and grown its communications portfolio to include on-demand call centres, rapidly implemented and flexibly provisioned at low cost to offer speed to market to its customers, and introduced analytics to track call patterns and costs. Connection Telecom provides an end-to-end communications service that straddles voice termination, routing, hosting and management, and the company has had much success in creating zero-rated call communities. Its solutions operate in physical as well as virtual settings, hosted on- or off-site in the client’s environment or its own fully-redundant data centre. The Telviva family of enterprise PBXs and other products are aimed at enterprise customers and smaller businesses, and are suited to vertical industry applications. Feature-rich, managed and open (extensible), these solutions allow freedom of choice in handsets and add-ons, and a low total cost of ownership. The company has offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg with on-site support in 28 locations. Its major clients include Engen Petroleum, FNB, Lewis, RMB Asset Management, UCS, Old Mutual Finance and Vox Telecom.
For more information please visit: connection-telecom.com
About Rob Lith
ICT industry heavyweight and Internet specialist Rob Lith has been involved in the industry for the last 20 years. Coming from a strong sales background and with a lifelong interest in technology, Rob has an in-depth knowledge of Internet markets, technology and products. He sees VoIP, location based services and presence as the “next wave” of technological advancement. Rob started out in the retail sales business in London in 1978, returning to South Africa to join Compustat in 1989, soon moving up to Durban to head up its KZN branch. He found a like mind in Steve Davies, who became his long term collaborator. Rob extended his knowledge of the SA technology and Internet business at Internet Africa (which became UUNET, then WorldCom, then Verizon), before striking out on his own in 2003 to co-found Connection Telecom.