Unified Communications (UC) technology is readily available in South Africa but proper connectivity may be hindering its growth.
“In South Africa the [UC] technology has always been here but the connectivity has been a problem. It doesn’t help if you’ve got a wonderful system [but] you’re phoning people and you can’t hear them and they’re dropping calls,” Rodney Taylor, managing director at Itec Communications SA, told CNBCafrica.com.
“What’s probably hindered voice in the cloud in South Africa has been the type of connectivity we’ve got – it comes with all these features and benefits but there’s lots of people out there that are getting it wrong because they’re selling the technology across the wrong connectivity.”
According to Itec, Unified Communications is the next evolution of communications and related technologies.
It combines multiple IT capabilities, enabling an efficient approach to communicating that changes how individuals, groups and organisations conduct business.
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“People want to always be contactable. No matter where they are, they want to be able to be reached at all times. From a unified point, our platform allows us to give one number and on that one number, you can actually have seven destinations,” Taylor said.
“There’s two aspects to it, one is the technology that allows you to get a hold of people and the other part is the massive cost-saving. Obviously all those calls can be recorded, monitored, you can pull stats and reports –you’ve got access to that information.”
South African telecommunications company, Telkom Business added that UC is essentially the integration of real-time communication services with non-real-time communication services.
“Unified Communications (UC) is playing an increasingly valued role in enterprise communications as it serves to transform disparate (silo) communication systems into a common interface that makes it quicker and easier to communicate,” it said.
“Unified Communications systems are designed to break down geographical, communication mode, device, and user-accessibility barriers, thus enabling people to be reached easily anywhere, anytime.”
The company further stated that the key business drivers for UC consist of a combination of internally and externally focused factors.
“Tangible business drivers typically involve quantifiable savings in terms of monetary gains. These are motivated by an enterprise’s need to reduce, eliminate or avoid costs in areas such as travel expenses, cost to communicate, redundant infrastructure and IT staff overheads,” Telkom Business said.
“Intangible business drivers are those gains that may not be easily quantified in financial value. They revolve around improved organisational efficiency or employee productivity. They also extend to external gains such as customer acquisition and retention.”
Itec cited improved employee efficiency and productivity, enhanced responsiveness to customers, suppliers and partners and streamlined IT management and lower total cost of ownership as some of the other benefits of the system.
However, Taylor stated that while unified communications and a cloud system go hand-in-hand, there’s been a slow uptake in cloud.
“The reason for that slow uptake has been the old guard – your old traditional CIO-CEO – he’s of a different era in IT. He hasn’t quite moved in to the cloud – that’s been one of the hindrances,” he explained.
“The technology is here but business needs to now make the decision – it’s about when you’re going to the cloud, everybody’s going to end up in the cloud.”
He added that another hindrance is that business leaders don’t quite trust a system that is not onsite anymore.
“He [the CEO] doesn’t trust the equipment not being onsite because when you’re on unified communications, you’ve got no equipment onsite anymore, it’s all sitting in a data centre – your call recordings, your telephone calls are going through a data centre,” Taylor indicated.
“It is a lot more secure than the current way that the customer is actually doing business. Currently you’ve got equipment on site, it can be hacked easily, you can lose the data, you can have a corrupt file, you might not have IP experts onsite to assist you. Security is a big area of moving to the cloud.”