UC&C interoperability offers businesses operational cost relief in tough times


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

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

It’s not all doom and gloom, says Telviva chief commercial officer Rob Lith. Containing costs and pursuing simplicity is a non-negotiable as businesses move forward with their digital transformation strategies, while benefiting from the best-of-breed applications available.

“It’s well known by now that customers, more than ever before, are far less forgiving of a poor customer experience, while businesses themselves understand that seamless collaboration within and between backend and frontend divisions can make or break their competitiveness. 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,” explains Lith.

Lith says that while Telviva’s model was designed before the current economic difficulties, it was premised on the concept of interoperability and fit-for-purpose value over vendor-locking customers into an ecosystem.

“The pandemic did away with most remaining resistance to cloud adoption and all businesses have invested in some degree of cloud functionality. The difficulty with the foreign-based platforms stems from the licensing, which when converted from US dollars to rands, 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 who can add on the direct routing for them, and then still work with consultants on complex integrations.

Simpler proposition

“We said from the outset that we wanted a simpler proposition. So, if you consider our basic extension — which in itself has the entire UC&C layer — costs R90/month, which is more affordable than foreign counterparts by a considerable factor, the value makes sense both locally as well as for international clients who have more buying power by virtue of their exchange rates. This basic subscription already integrates Web, cellphone, chat and more. Adding video and the subscription is still below R160.”

The proposition, he says, is that by offering local businesses a localised service with local support, Telviva aims to achieve cost savings for customers to the tune of between 35% and 40%. However, beyond the important mathematics of cost savings, Lith says that businesses are remembering the importance of voice as the immediate aftermath of the lockdowns recedes into memory.

“During the pandemic, everything was built around video conferencing,” he explains. “This was vital because people were not allowed to work together from the office and 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 needs 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.

Telviva One’s single-pane view and ease of access to contacts and functionality is designed for far more than aesthetics

“However, we are saying that if you do have elements of your business that are in the Microsoft environment, for example, a strength of ours is the ability to create a hybrid environment where both Telviva One and Teams users coexist and benefit from internal calls and the wider Telviva on-net community. This interoperability and democratisation of choice is important to us, especially in an environment where cost is more important than before.”

Lith explains that another benefit of a platform that has cut its teeth in the voice environment and evolving into video is that it more closely mimics a live work environment than being forced to switch to video conferencing in the first instance.

“Telviva One’s single-pane view and ease of access to contacts and functionality is designed for far more than aesthetics. If our users want to pick up the phone or start a quick, 30-second 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 by the lockdowns, but unnecessary today.

“If you think about it, 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 very simply create a video conference, and go into detail. We’re finding that this convenience and efficiency is very important for our 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,” he says.

Join South Africa’s largest cloud free-call community, with more than 75 000 users across 2 500 sites and zero-rated calls to any customer on the Telviva network, including other Telviva-connected Microsoft 365 Teams tenants. Contact us today.

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