2020 highlighted the importance of secure, reliable communications networks.
Following a revealing year that made digital communication channels and remote working the norm, there are a few tech trends that are likely to play out over the foreseeable future.
Here, Nic Laschinger, chief technology officer of Euphoria Telecom, shares his top five telephony trends for 2021.
Farewell to the landline
As the world embraces digital communication systems, the traditional landline is being left behind. Telkom’s recent discontinuation of its copper line-based ADSL service is yet another strong indicator that South Africa is moving more towards higher bandwidth, more reliable connectivity solutions.
In South Africa, between 20-million and 22-million people in South Africa use smartphones. And an ever-increasing number of businesses are switching to VoIP, cloud-based home or business phone systems. VoIP telephony solutions run over any digital connection and offer flexibility and mobility not possible with landlines.
The rise of 5G
5G has begun to roll out in South Africa. This fifth-generation cellular network can deliver up to 1 000-times more speed than its predecessor – 4G. 5G towers also support more devices per square kilometre, with fewer delays. Major network providers have begun rolling out 5G networks in selected areas of the country.
Alongside this, providers are improving their networks’ handling of real-time communications and broadening their network capacity, which means less over-subscription and better quality experience overall for users.
Better use of data driving enhanced customer experiences
Technology solutions like CRM, AI and big data mean companies can start delivering the kind of personalised experiences their customers are demanding.
The data that companies have available to them allows them to deliver an enhanced customer experience because they know who their customers are and what they are doing. For example that you ordered pizza from Pizza-R-Us yesterday, so when you call the delivery line again they’ll ask if you want to repeat your order.
This will drive the rise of self-service systems in 2021 as companies take advantage of maturing technologies in this space.
More choice of communication channels
Better CRM integration is very closely tied to better customer experience as these systems are offering increased choices of channels for customers to engage providers through, and vice versa. For customers, whether you prefer to talk to a human in real time, or via Twitter, or an IVR system, your need can be met – seamlessly.
Remote working solutions
As the Covid-19 pandemic forced a lot of the world into lockdown, working from home became commonplace. Business phone solutions that allow people to work from wherever they are, without being tied to a PBX in a fixed location, have become a necessity for many organisations.
The beauty of cloud is that it is a single platform that can service all of your locations. This allows you, as a business, to be location agnostic – in other words you can have your entire company in one place, or all over the place.
It lets you centralise resources, for example, by having a receptionist in Sandton who can handle calls for your Potchefstroom office, because the solution is in the cloud and where the people are doesn’t matter.
VoIP, cloud-based business phone systems are proving to be the answer for call centres and other businesses of all kinds that have adapted to remote working during the pandemic. And it is likely that the trend of remote and hybrid working will continue in 2021, as organisations lower overheads by downsizing – or closing down – fixed premises, and equip employees to work remotely.