Africa Is on the Brink of an Unified Communications Revolution

For quite some time, VoIP telephony and Unified Communications tools (voice, instant messaging, video calls, audio conference, and presence combined into a single communication stream) have proliferated on many markets, and now it appears as though Africa too is on the brink of this communications revolution. With technology evolving so fast, businesses in developing areas of the world are catching on to the need to deploy robust communications tools.

By taking advantage of both VoIP and UC, companies benefit from cost savings and increased functionality which, in turn, improve business processes and boost productivity.

As the number of reliable Internet connections increases, so does the number of businesses that can leverage IP telephony. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two countries in particular—South Africa and Nigeria—and how VoIP and UC are making an impact there.

South Africa                        

When it comes to deploying modern communications solutions on the African content, South Africa is a trailblazer. With a 41% penetration rate among users, the Internet is definitely on the rise.

According to Ovum, as far as adopting VoIP telephony goes, South African enterprises are even ahead of their global counterparts. 87 percent of them have already adopted IP PBX solutions, that is 7 percent above the global average. What’s more, 91 percent of large South African enterprises already set up a plan to use UC and collaboration applications in their processes in the coming years.

Breaking the research down a little more, we can observe the following:

  • 58 percent of businesses use instant messaging and presence, while 26 percent of them plan to use the tools within the next two years.
  • 38 percent have standard UC tools—like unified messaging, presence and softphone—while 26 percent of them plan to deploy them within the next two years.
  • 64 percent use audio or Web conferencing, while 18 percent plan to deploy the technology within the next two years.

In addition to those figures, South Africa seems to be embracing mobility and the BYOD movement at a fast pace. 53 percent of businesses offer support for company-approved, employee-owned smartphones, while 33 percent offer support for any employee-owned smartphone.

For service providers, things are looking good on the horizon. South African businesses seem to be more open to public and private cloud delivery options than their neighbors. In this respect, they resemble more North America and Europe.

Nigeria

Nigeria may not have been so fast at developing Internet infrastructure, but it definitely has the most ambitious plans. At the end of 2013, Communication Technology Minister Omobola Johnson stated that Nigeria plans to reach 30% broadband Internet penetration by 2017.  For more details, here’s a link to Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan 2013 – 2018.

According to a recent report, for the time being only 25 percent of Nigerian businesses’ outgoing voice traffic is routed over Internet connections. Still, since more infrastructure is being built, the rate is expected to increase in the near future. “With Unified Communications gaining traction in Nigeria, VoIP adoption by businesses is expected to grow because it offers an even cheaper platform for making voice calls,” explains Oluwole Babatope, telecommunications analyst at IDC West Africa.

Poor quality of service—which was a problem even in the United States in VoIP’s early days—is a major reason IP telephony adoption hasn’t taken off in the country, as reported by IDC. As technology continues to improve and companies can safely rely on providers to deliver a high quality of service, one can expect to see Nigerian enterprises adopt the modern communications tools with more frequency.

VoIP Market: Revenue Set to Triple Yet Lack of User Awareness Jeopardizes Success

Due to the myriad of benefits brought by technology, like business flexibility, reduced costs, and bolstered collaboration, the VoIP telephony market is looking particularly sunny. In fact, according to Frost & Sullivan, the North American VoIP market (including SIP services) is expected to at least triple in revenue from $2.83 billion to $9.35 billion between 2013 and 2019.

Businesses are transitioning from legacy private branch exchanges to IP-based Unified Communications platforms and, as such, are looking to VoIP access and SIP trunking services to complement these new platforms,” said Michael Brandenburg, communications analyst at Frost & Sullivan. He also noted that VoIP and SIP trunking offer business recovery and mobile features that “are simply not available on more traditional telecommunications services“.

user ucc knowledge

However, there is no sunny sky without a few clouds (no joke here). Brandenburg declared that, even though the market is considerably expanding, the lack of customer awareness of the benefits of VoIP telephony and Unified Communications tools still presents a challenge for providers. The fact is that familiarity with these tools is still driven by the experience as a consumer with products such as Skype or Viber. And since there are tools that differ markedly in usage from UC tools, employees have trouble adapting their work habits to this new environment. A recent Ovum study revealed that over 40% of employees don’t understand or “understand a little” about Unified Communications tools and their role in their day-to-day jobs. VoIP is still a challenge for 20% of employees. Of course, this is an alarming situation because lack of awareness will impede on IP communications adoption at user level – actually, the only level that truly matters.

Because of that, Brandenburg suggests that providers enhance their portfolios with robust solutions while focusing on streamlining how easily their technologies can be implemented. And our suggestion for service providers is that, no matter what contract they have underway, they make sure they offer proper training as part of the package. To reap the benefits of VoIP and Unified Communications at an organizational level, service providers have to ensure that employees understand the tools, the benefits, and the learning curve required.

If you’re a decision maker for a service provider and you’re considering enhancing your company’s portfolio, take a look at VoipNow, our comprehensive cloud communications platform that offers benefits to businesses of all sizes, regardless of their industry. And of course, we offer proper training adapted to your needs!

Latin America: With UC&C, Business Will Never Be the Same – Part 2: Mexico

Last week we talked about how Unified Communications and Collaboration are shifting the way people work. This week it’s time to take a look at the state of cloud and business communications in Mexico.

InfographicMexico2407

The UCaaS Market Is Growing And Here’s Why

An Ovum study conducted with over 1,300 ICT decision makers in 18 countries revealed that organizations are still bound to on-premises Unified Communications. Around 80% of UC systems are deployed on-premises and managed internally or by a third party. Managed UCC arose from the need of organizations lacking in-house experts to support the UC evolution. So where’s the cloud in all of this? If we look below, we can see that hosted core IP PBX stands at 3%, while instant messaging and presence lead the way with 7%; which is a lot less than we’d like.

UCC Delivery

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Latin America: With UC&C, Business Will Never Be the Same

This week, Brazil takes a deep breath from the whirlwind days of the FIFA World Cup and returns to business. The fact is that businesses in Brazil, and in Latin America for that matter, are not going to be the same much longer. In short, business for a lot of people is no longer limited to the confines of an office. Research indicates that by 2015, there will be 1.3 billion mobile workers worldwide. Recognizing this shift, businesses across the globe are leveraging modern communications tools, those which enable workers who are on the go to remain connected in order to adapt to this changing landscape.

Unified Communications tools are becoming more popular than ever as they cater to a mobile workforce. Such tools that combine voice, data, presence, email, and video into a single interface provide employees with access to their critical communications from any Internet-connected device, no matter where they happen to find themselves. Read more

3 Ways to Lower Costs in Healthcare with Unified Communications

Escalating costs in healthcare has been a constant headline topic for years. So much so that worldwide famous economists, Robert S. Kaplan and Michael Porter both tackled the healthcare cost problem by suggesting the activity-based costing method. The main pillar of this method is streamlining operations. Studies show that doctors spend 25% of their time in direct patient contact while another 24% is spent communicating with fellow colleagues. 24%! This is a huge percentage that no doubt could be lowered by employing smarter communication tools.

As such, healthcare providers, both large and small must constantly look to take advantage of new communication infrastructure enhancements. And many of them, if they haven’t already deployed them, are looking towards Unified Communications solutions.

Eva Blue - Peaceful Hearts Doctor, San Francisco
© Eva Blue – Peaceful Hearts Doctor, San Francisco

 
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Collaboration Software: Impressive Results on Business Productivity

Business collaboration is that elusive Holy Grail of corporate executives. Blamed whenever a project fails or derails (96% of executives blame workplace failures on lack of it), hailed as the key to success whenever somethings works, every business planning cycle takes into account how to improve the way employees collaborate. Yet, since collaboration software or enterprise social networks stepped into the world, improving how we work is closer to reality.

In fact, in a recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, 86% of businesses indicated that online collaboration software was either “important” or “somewhat important”. Compared to 52% in 2012 and 75% in 2013, it’s fairly obvious that businesses are increasingly turning toward such solutions to bolster productivity, streamline business processes, and encourage collaboration as much as possible.

To keep up with this interest level and likely sales opportunities, service providers should consider adding collaboration software to their portfolios.
 

Improving Organizational Efficiency

 

World Cup Football on the Edge and the Need for a Resilient Contact Center

The United States might be known for many things, but the prowess of its men’s soccer team is not one of them. This is the reason why many football enthusiasts around the world were puzzled when John Brooks’ header made it passed the Ghanaian goalie in the 86th minute of the World Cup game, giving the Americans a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

It was an upset to say the least. And Americans across the country took to Twitter to celebrate en-masse, indicating a large U.S. fan base for the Brazil-hosted event, as well as a hit for social media platforms. Twitter reported 4.9 million tweets sent during the U.S. vs. Ghana match. The latest U.S. vs. Portugal also brought a flurry of activity on Twitter when Portugal’s Varela managed to equalize the score in minute 90+5′ :)


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In The Company of Strong Teammates

For the past three years, 4PSA’s girls cycling team mounted the podium in the women’s category at the Skoda Velo Challenge. We have a dedicated corner in our open space filled with the trophies they brought home. This is a good motivation to train hard every year, because maintaining a top place is not an easy task. And now we’ve raced our bikes in the Baneasa forest once again.

For those of you who do not know what Skoda Velo Challenge is, here’s the short story: it’s a relay cycling race opened for people working at the same company. We team up to compete against other companies in the same field of work or in the general classification. It’s basically a fun day in the woods, without computers and tasks, but with deadlines to meet. Well, you do need to beat the other competitors’ times, don’t you?

Winning Does Not Come Easy, But Feels Great

With only two girls willing to join the ranks this year, we took a different approach. We entered the race with two teams in the mixed competition. Team Hubgets and Team VoipNow, each made of three boys and one girl, lined up at the starting grid, along with 81 teams from other companies. Team Hubgets relied on stronger riders and aimed high. Team VoipNow was all about the fun of it.

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Transforming Contact Centers with VoipNow

Companies today understand the importance of differentiating their businesses from the competition’s by offering customer service that is second-to-none. This imperative is supported by recent research, which indicates that more than half of customers will take their business elsewhere in the aftermath of a negative experience with a brand.

When companies decide to enhance customer service delivery, their decision makers often first look at contact centers. Since contact centers serve as the human extension of brands, they are the primary interface with key targets and, therefore, of paramount importance in retaining customers or improving relationships with them.

As a result, many businesses choose to deploy industry-leading contact center solutions, many of them cloud-based, to bolster their customer service offerings. And this means that business is good for contact center providers.

 
Service providers catering to these businesses need to stay on top of industry trends and add to their portfolios those solutions that ensure their customers get all the functionality they want. Cloud communications platforms are a common solution for several customer service key trends. Read more

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