Telviva CCO Rob Lith.
With business confidence at an all-time low and costs rising on all fronts, it will take a while for the economy to recover and gain momentum amid prevailing global economic conditions and structural economic challenges. Businesses in South Africa are examining all measures to control their costs and optimize their investments in all areas, especially IT and telecoms.
It’s not all doom and gloom, says Rob Lith, Telviva’s CCO. Containing costs and striving for simplicity is non-negotiable as companies advance their digital transformation strategies while benefiting from the best applications available.
“It is now common knowledge that customers are less than ever forgiving of a poor customer experience, while companies themselves understand that seamless collaboration within and between backend and frontend departments can determine or hamper their competitiveness. That’s why a cloud-based Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) platform is critical to modern businesses. This functionality doesn’t have to cost a fortune, especially compared to the rand-dollar exchange rate,” explains Lith.
Lith says while Telviva’s model was designed ahead of the current economic difficulties, it was based on the concept of interoperability and expediency rather than locking customers into one ecosystem.
“The pandemic has removed most remaining resistance to cloud adoption, and all organizations have invested in some level of cloud capability. The difficulty with the overseas-based platforms comes from licensing, which immediately puts local businesses at a disadvantage when converting from US dollars to Rand. If they want to unlock more features, e.g. B. adding a phone system license, they need to find a vendor who can add direct routing for them and then still work with consultants on complex integrations.
“We said from the start that we wanted a simpler offering. So when you consider that our base extension – which itself has the full UC&C layer – costs R90 per month, which is a significant factor cheaper than overseas counterparts, the value is there for both local and international clients who have more , sensible purchasing power given their exchange rates. This basic subscription already integrates web, mobile, chat and more. Adding videos still keeps the subscription under R160.”
The thesis, he says, is that by offering local services to local businesses with local support, Telviva wants to achieve cost savings for customers of 35% to 40%. Aside from the important math of cost savings, Lith says, however, businesses are remembering the importance of voice communications as the immediate fallout from lockdowns is remembered.
“During the pandemic, everything revolved around video conferencing,” he explains. “This was critical as employees weren’t allowed to collaborate from the office, so we saw widespread adoption of platforms like Zoom and the broader Microsoft Teams, which are video-first.
“However, if you think of video conferencing as the skylight on a well-designed roof, walls must be in place before that roof can be assembled. With other platforms, this has taken the form of third-party additions within their own ecosystems, which can be restrictive and not the most cost-effective for what you get.
“However, we say that if you have elements of your business that reside in the Microsoft environment, for example, one of our strengths is the ability to create a hybrid environment where both Telviva One and Teams users coexist and benefit from internal calls and the broader Telviva online community. This interoperability and democratization of choice is important to us, especially in an environment where cost is more important than before.”
Lith explains that another advantage of a platform that has proven itself in the locale and evolved into video is that it mimics a live work environment better than it would be forced to move to video conferencing first.
“Telviva One’s single-panel view and easy access to contacts and features are designed for much more than just aesthetics. When our users want to pick up the phone or start a quick 30-second web chat with a co-worker, they can do so in real-time instead of being forced to go through the calendar and set up a video conference and wait to resolve something else would take seconds. This video-first approach is a habit enforced by the lockdowns but unnecessary today.
“If you think about it, in a live office environment, this is how it happens – you’re talking across the office, walking down the hallway, or quickly picking up the phone. If the problem is more complex, the user can then set up a meeting or simply create a video conference and go into detail. We find that this convenience and efficiency is very important for our customers, who are trying to return to the same level of collaboration as before the pandemic, while making the most of video and other channels,” he says.
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