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Businesses in SA are looking at measures to manage their costs and optimise their IT and telecommunications investments. Picture: 123RF
Businesses in SA are looking at measures to manage their costs and optimise their IT and telecommunications investments. Picture: 123RF

With business confidence at an all-time low and costs on all fronts increasing, it will take a while for the economy to recover and gain momentum amid the prevailing global economic conditions and structural economic challenges.

Businesses in SA are looking at measures to manage their costs and optimise their investments in all areas, particularly IT and telecommunications.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, says Rob Lith, chief commercial officer at cloud communications firm Telviva.

He says containing costs and pursuing simplicity are non-negotiable as businesses move forward with their digital transformation while benefiting from the best-of-breed applications that are now available.

“It’s known that customers are less forgiving of a poor customer experience, while businesses understand that seamless collaboration between back-end and front-end divisions can make or break their competitiveness,” says Lith.

“This is why a cloud-based unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platform is crucial to the modern enterprise. This functionality does not have to cost an arm and a leg, especially when seen against the rand–dollar exchange rate.”

He says that even though Telviva’s model was designed before the current economic challenges, it is based on the concept of interoperability and fit-for-purpose value instead of vendor-locking customers into an ecosystem.

The benefits of localisation

The pandemic did away with most remaining resistance to cloud adoption, and all businesses have invested in some degree of cloud functionality,” he says.

Rob Lith, Telviva chief commercial officer. Picture: SUPPLIED/TELVIVA
Rob Lith, Telviva chief commercial officer. Picture: SUPPLIED/TELVIVA

“The difficulty with the foreign-based platforms stems from the licensing, because when converted from US dollar to rand, it immediately puts local businesses on the back foot. If they wish to unleash further functionality, such as adding a phone-system licence, they need to find a provider that can add the direct routing for them and still work with consultants on complex integrations. 

“From the outset, Telviva wanted a simpler proposition. If you consider the basic extension, which has the whole UC&C layer, at a cost of R90 a month — which is more affordable than foreign counterparts — the value makes sense for local and international clients who have more buying power by virtue of their exchange rates. This basic subscription integrates web, cellphone, chat and more. Adding video still keeps the subscription below R160 per month.”

By offering local businesses a localised service with local support, Telviva aims to achieve cost savings of 35% to 40% for its customers, says Lith. However, he says, beyond the importance of cost savings, businesses are once again realising the importance of voice as the Covid-19 lockdowns recede into memory. 

“During the pandemic, everything was built around video conferencing. This was vital because people were not allowed to work together from the office, so we saw widespread uptake of platforms such as Zoom and the more complete Microsoft Teams that are video-first. 

“However, if one sees video conferencing as the skylight on a well-designed roof, there need to be walls in place before this roof can be mounted. With other platforms, this has taken the shape of additions from third parties, all within their own ecosystems, which can be restrictive and not the most cost-effective for what you get.

All businesses have invested in some degree of cloud functionality

“If you have elements of your business that are in the Microsoft environment, Telviva can create a hybrid environment where both Telviva One and Teams users coexist and benefit from internal calls and the wider Telviva on-net community.

"Such interoperability and democratisation of choice can be vital to a company, especially in an environment where cost is more important than before.”

Work environment

Another benefit of a platform that cut its teeth in the voice environment and evolved into video is that it mimics a live work environment instead of forcing users to switch to video conferencing. 

“Telviva One’s single-pane view and ease of access to contacts and functionality are designed for more than aesthetics,” says Lith.

“If users want to pick up the phone or start a quick web chat with a colleague, they can do so in real time as opposed to being forced to go through the calendar and set up and wait for a video conference to resolve something that would otherwise take seconds. That video-first approach is a habit forced on users by the lockdowns but is unnecessary today.

“That’s how it happens in a live office environment — you talk across the office, pop down the hallway or quickly pick up the phone. Then, if the problem is more complex, the user can set up a meeting or simply create a video conference and go into detail.

“Such convenience and efficiency can be important for customers trying to get back to the same level of collaboration as before the pandemic while still enjoying the ability to make the best of video and other channels.” 

Join SA’s largest cloud free-call community with more than 75,000 users across 2,500 sites — with zero-rated calls to any customer on the Telviva network. This includes other Telviva-connected Microsoft 365 Teams tenants. 

This article was paid for by Telviva.