Telephony - new era technology saves company R20m in phone costs.

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"The last few years' benchmarks of the local business cell-phone market indicated high costs and a lack of substantial innovation. Now, however, technology is converging and the distinction between voice and data transmission are blurring. These new products promise substantial cost saving opportunities," Alan Low, Managing Director of Purchasing Index, told Smart Procurement.

"The status quo is due to a lack of competition between the two main suppliers and their distributors and a lack of strategy and focus by business users," he says.

"With the advent of Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and the availability of new technology and wider, less expensive bandwidth, Corporate SA is on the verge of wide ranging changes which will affect the way the organisation does business, especially in the way it communicates"

Zero cost calls?

Low says: "With the legalisation of VOIP in the last year, smaller South African businesses have been adopting VOIP software such as Skype (www.skype.com) to use in conjunction with ADSL or 3G technology."

"With a PC, a headset and VOIP software, one can talk to other VOIP users (or to ordinary telephones) at no or very little cost and usually with no interference, delay or line noise. Small business can make substantial savings in both costs and time and, by plugging an inexpensive camera into the PC, have a basic video conferencing facility."

R20 million saving per annum:

Now larger organisations are waking up to the possibilities. One blue chip company has installed new digital exchanges in all its SA offices and all inter-office phones calls within SA and between SA and certain other countries are done using VOIP. What are the estimated savings for the company? An astounding R20million per annum! The technology even manages the call streams to ensure that the company doesn't have peaks and troughs in terms of line usage, and it didn't even need to implement vast amounts of extra bandwidth.

Of course the straight telephone cost savings are highly attractive, but the opportunities don't end there. Imagine a situation where business could implement this technology effectively and for example:
• Reduce the need for endless inter-office meetings, and
• Reduce the need for certain business travel by using, for example, personalised video conferencing. With the almost universal skills shortage the opportunities for increasing staff productivity are enormous.
Purchasing Index in conjunction with Smart Procurement will be hosting breakfast meetings for organisations who wish to come together and share experiences (war stories and successes!) and plans for telephony in the 21st Century. We aim to facilitate networking and benchmarking on this crucial area of spend.

Purchasing Index (PI) has been benchmarking the use of business cell phones for many years. If you would like to participate in these breakfast meetings and benchmarking your organisation's cell phones and/or landline facilities, please contact the author, Alan Low on alan@pricetrak.co.sa

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