International companies who offshore their contact centres to Cape Town could increase their chances of success by using local solutions and hosted technology, says 1Stream director Jed Hewson.
"International investors tend to operate with a global mindset, which can lead them to overlook local cost saving opportunities,” he says.
South Africa’s relatively high bandwidth costs are a typical stumbling block. “Coming into South Africa with a bandwidth-intensive solution that makes complete sense in London can kill the business case for offshoring,” says Hewson.
But, he adds, local businesses have in many cases already overcome this problem. “There are solutions that deliver quality of service to global standards, while still being economical with bandwidth. Offshoring without taking advantage of this local knowledge and expertise is less likely to succeed.”
Hewson says investors should also resist the temptation to import all their own equipment and hardware. “It’s a logistical nightmare. Invariably not everything will arrive the way you want it, there will be technical problems and warranties may not apply.”
Yet it can be equally risky to source equipment locally in an unfamiliar market. A hosted solution, says Hewson, provides flexibility and scalability; and critically, it puts the entire ownership and management of technical infrastructure into the hands of a single specialist supplier.
“A hosted contact centre solution is an ideal low-risk option for offshoring,” Hewson says. “It makes the infrastructure and technology someone else’s problem, which frees operators to concentrate on getting the most out of their people. Paying for services per seat, per month, makes it possible to get pilot projects up and running quickly, then scale rapidly if necessary.
Hewson believes the availability of hosted solutions will cement Cape Town’s reputation as a “soft landing” destination for offshoring.
“Cape Town is already attractive to UK-based operations because the language and culture are similar, the standard of living is attractive and it’s possible to realise 25% savings relatively easily. It’s also rapidly becoming seen as the gateway to the rest of Africa.”