The much anticipated promise of business people being able to work from anywhere as seamlessly and affordably as if they were in the office is finally a reality. This follows the introduction to South Africa of a telephony device that can make any location an extension of the company’s switchboard.

According to Graeme Victor, CEO of voice-based telecommunications solutions company Du Pont Telecoms, by replacing the traditional PBX with the new device, the switchboard operator can transfer incoming calls to any member of staff regardless of where he or she is located.
“The switchboard could be in the company’s premises in Boksburg and the managing director could be in his study at home in Hermanus. To the caller – and indeed, to the switchboard operator – it would make no difference if the MD were in the same building rather than 1000km away. The call would be transferred in exactly the same way, at no additional cost to the company.
“At the same time, should the MD want to make a call, he simply lifts the handset in his study and dials the number in exactly the same way as he would if he were in his office in Boksburg. The cost of the call would also be exactly the same,” he adds.
Victor points out that advances in data network technology have long made it easy for virtually anyone to work from home – all that’s needed is a broadband connection and a computer or other device that can access emails and the company server. However, the cost and complexity of implementing the same seamless connectivity for telephone communications has put the full potential of the virtual office beyond the reach of most small and medium-sized businesses.
Now, with the Du Pont Connecto in place, businesses can quickly, easily and affordably connect any number of virtual offices to the head office via VoIP.
“Key individuals within the business will no longer have to fight through rush hour traffic to get to the office; and callers will not have to be told that the people they need to speak to aren’t in yet because they are stuck in traffic. Executives could start their working day in their virtual office and drive to the office when the roads are quieter.
“Indeed, the Connecto gives executives and other key staff the freedom to live where they choose to live – with commuting times dictated by convenience (and cost, if flying in from the coast) rather than business hours,” he adds.
All that’s required to set up virtual offices is an ADSL line, a router and an IP phone in each location.
At the head office, the Connecto provides the business with all its PBX and data server functionality in a single unit.
“It’s the equivalent of having your PBX, cellular gateway, data server, DSL modem and WiFi unit/LAN switch in a single device. With one device instead of five or six, the capex savings alone are significant,” Victor says.
Opex savings are also considerable as the Connecto can be connected to any one or more of the broadband voice and data offerings provided by the various network providers.  LCR (least cost routing) technology is then used to “select” the most cost-effective route for specific calls.
A major benefit is that Connecto is incredibly easy to install. You simply plug it in and everything the office needs to communicate with customers and suppliers will be operational in a few minutes.
“In addition, it can be maintained and programmed remotely. This is of particular benefit to businesses with remote branch and virtual offices: instead of having to send a technician to the MD’s home in Hermanus, for example, the unit can be adjusted or repaired from the Boksburg office,” Victor concludes.