Three cornerstones of next-gen communication

Connectivity, voice and security should be central to the remote workplace.

It’s not news that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation to a significant extent.  Businesses have had to turn to technology to support new ways of working and new ways to meet customer demands.

Our post-lockdown work environment will continue to rely on seamless communications, as much as we have become accustomed to real-time collaboration among employees working remotely from home.

The great news is that it seems any lingering resistance to cloud services has been shattered by the pandemic.  South African companies moved quickly to the cloud in 2020, and this momentum is set to continue in the future, according to the IDC South African Public Cloud Market study 2021-2025.

Business connectivity

This commitment represents a huge opportunity for the channel, because connectivity underpins every growing technology stack to a greater degree than ever before.

A few years ago, connectivity was important, but by no means as crucial as it is today. Back then, if a company’s Internet connection went down, its ISDN-based telephone system would remain fully operational. Today, a dropped connection will take the company’s communications services down with it.

Similarly, it’s not long ago that CRM and invoicing tools would sit on a server in head office. Today, they’re more likely to sit in the cloud. Without a solid Internet connection, video calls stutter and freeze, and e-commerce sites grind to a halt.

In other words, none of these shifts in transformed digital roadmaps happen without resilient connectivity. There’s never been a better time to engage with customers about the options available to them, from dedicated leased lines to full fibre broadband.

Do they need 4G backup, SLAs offering 100% uptime (or money back), or specialised homeworker solutions? Connectivity has never been so vital, but customers won’t necessarily know what they need in terms of speed and resilience until they’re asked.

Switch to a flexible voice

Service providers in the communications industry – our resellers and partners that is – can now broaden their impact on their customers’ businesses by providing critical telecoms services. Internet traffic in the past year increased between 25% and 45%, depending which report you read.  It’s safe to say that just as the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of resilient connectivity, it’s also shown that many businesses would struggle to operate without “anywhere” communications.

A switch to flexible working has created a vast market for cloud-based telecoms and unified communications that combine voice, video, chat, email and more in a single package.

That means an enormous opportunity for telephony and omnichannel services for employees to access wherever they are, whether that’s in the office, at home or in the coffee shop round the corner.

At the very least, mobile workers should be able to make and take professional calls from anywhere, on any device. What may have been a luxury before the pandemic, is now a necessity – flexibility to communicate and collaborate away from the office should be a given.

Locking it in

The remarkable increase in connectivity in collaboration and communication services for business has opened up a vast array of new opportunities.

But this connectivity also brings risks. Cybercrime has boomed during the pandemic, from simple scams to sophisticated attacks on critical infrastructure. Criminal and state actors have also engaged in influence operations, spreading misinformation and inflammatory content that poses reputational risks to companies as well as political players.

Just as you wouldn’t build a new house without putting burglar bars on the windows (yes, this is a South African story), no business should start a digital transformation journey without bolting the doors to its data.

You will need a next generation firewall at the very least, but probably a unified threat management approach would be wiser, where firewalls are combined with web filtering, data protection, application management and more.  Our resellers and partners have a responsibility to, just like the rest of the world, to help businesses balance the drive for technological innovation with security, integrity and resilience.

These three pillars – connectivity, voice and security – are the cornerstones of the next generation communications service provider era. As companies emerge from lockdown, they’ll be wondering how to turn the temporary measures they adopted during the pandemic into more permanent solutions. For channel businesses, it’s an opportunity to be at the heart of the digital transformation process.

With Wanatel, our resellers are able to entrust the management and security of equipment, hosting of the service and handling upgrades to the experts while they take care of their customers’ growing demands.