“It is no secret that executives are becoming less office-bound and that the lack of telecommunications infrastructure has meant that African businessmen are largely dependent on mobile devices to keep in touch,” says Gene van der Walt, head of the Visual Communications division of Vox Telecom. “This has meant that technologists are rewriting conventional business technology for mobile platforms and enhancing the quality and capabilities of existing solutions.”
In essence, there is no reason why employees can’t work together productively – no matter where they are. For a number of years, video conferencing has allowed companies to negotiate or generate ideas face-to-face despite being at different locations – but these interchanges were often limited to single, occasional meetings. Now, tools such as Eyeris Lite have enabled live collaboration – where people are able to work on a joint presentation or document from different locations. Users can share screens and files, switch between screens, write notes in digital ink and communicate via the integrated instant messaging, video and audio capabilities. The application can also be linked to a Smart interactive whiteboards and sessions can be recorded in full.
Mobile video conferencing
Formal video conferencing has historically been very expensive. It could cost hundreds of thousands of rands to set up a couple of boardrooms, and even then most companies could only talk between branches. Breaking out of the corporate ecosystem was extremely difficult. Mobile business apps are bridging the gap between formal corporate video conferencing and informal, consumer-level video applications.
Users can simply download a software client, connect to the server and off you go. Invite anybody to join you into a meeting following the same process. Users don’t have to be part of the same organisation to use the product either – it works on your Android or iOS Smartphone or Tablet in the airport just as well it works from your laptop at home or your desktop in the office. Whether you’re working on a sales presentation with a colleague or reviewing specs with a supplier, everyone can have same experience.
This is much more secure than using a service like Skype, where public internet resources that are shared with millions of other people are being used. With Skype, your call is also being routed via overseas servers, which means a long round trip that further degrades quality. By using a local, hosted solution access is gained to boardroom quality and security, at local bandwidth costs, anywhere in South Africa.
Changes in teleconferencing
The need for mobility has also led to innovations in conventional teleconferencing. With Voxair, for example, users can call in from any network, whether it’s fixed or mobile, any time of the day, from anywhere in South Africa. There is no limit on the duration of the conference or the number of participants and it is absolutely secure.
Participants can simply dial a number, enter the pin code that is provided and notify participants that it is time to dial in. There is a simple setup and subscription to the service and calls are billed at normal cellular rates. This gives the service – and its users – great flexibility.
As companies are becoming more mobile and environmentally conscious, the need for extensive travelling is decreasing. Mobile conferencing – in any form – can cut time and costs drastically, without investing in complex equipment.