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Service the key for SME

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2016 was heralded as a particularly tough year, and small to medium businesses have in particular been affected. BRIAN TIMPERLEY, managing director of Turrito Networks, highlights the biggest pain points for SMEs and how these can be overcome in the future.

A key pain point for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in 2016 continued to be an influx of cheap and ill-supported fibre and internet solutions, which fall far short of the SME’s needs.

SMB decision makers have been overwhelmed by cheap consumer connectivity and attempt to use these to drive down the cost of connectivity in their organisations.

And, says Brian Timperley, managing director of Turrito Networks, this trend will continue into 2017, underscored — ironically enough — by a dazzling array of choice, combined with the trend of technologically-knowledgeable users who apply consumer-level thinking to their businesses.

“A consumer’s requirement for fibre is very different from that of a business. While many SME owners think that consumer-grade fibre will deliver the same requirements for their business, the lack of sound advice to the contrary from their service provider often leaves them with slow connectivity and downtime,” adds Timperley.

“Bandwidth has never been cheaper than it is now, and yet we’ve never had more discussions around price. The challenge is that there are no consumer-level or “cheap” broadband products in South Africa that match the performance of business-grade Internet products.”

He is emphatic that — unlike the consumer arena — “the Internet” for SMEs is about far more than just browsing: “Businesses require far more than consumers and a big part of how we approach solutions for businesses of this size, is by understanding what they use their connectivity for.

For SMEs, the internet isn’t about consumer activities like Internet surfing and accessing social media sites. It’s about a whole range of critical services including voice over IP, cloud, video, backups and accessing Office 365, Sage, Pastel, Microsoft Azure, hosting, and cloud-based PABX.”

All of these consume vastly different amounts of data compared with consumer use, and in very different ways.

“The analogy we use is that of a professional deep sea diver who goes into a dive shop and asks for the cheapest oxygen tanks available – that’s not the kind of equipment you want, when your life depends on it… a parallel to buying connectivity based on price alone,” Timperley explained.

“Despite knowing how important connectivity is, SMEs are asking their service providers for the cheapest solution, without clarity on the impact that ill-matched solutions may have on productivity, uptime and efficiency.  SMEs were prepared to accept high prices in the days when that was the norm, and in turn demanded a high level of service from their providers.

“We are urging business owners and decision makers, to start demanding better value from their service providers and reap the benefits of a best fit connectivity solution for their organisations.”

Turrito Networks commercial director, Louis Jardim says that when it comes to selecting your partner and the connectivity solution for your business, it is important to understand the terminology, and challenge your provider to deliver best value.

He recommends being clear on the difference between a service level definition (SLD) and a service level agreement (SLA), contention ratios – how many other businesses and users will be sharing the same bandwidth, what the minimum upload and download speeds are that you can expect, and whether these can be consistently maintained, whether there is a 24/7 support desk, and what the mean time to respond and mean time to repair is.

He argues that before SMEs sign on the dotted line with service providers, that they understand what downtime is worth to them and the impact slow connectivity will have on their businesses.

For Timperley, the relationship between client and provider comes down to trust.

“As a neutral provider, we know precisely what the differences in pricing and services are from over 32 of the largest providers in SA. We have no incentive to sell any one of those network providers over the other. We have relationships with all of them and can deliver the same services they’re offering – but we know what works and what doesn’t.

This neutrality means we’ll ensure that our customers get the best bang for their buck, exactly in line with what their requirements are.”

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Inside Netflix: Quest for content will sweep Africa

In the second of a series of behind-the-scenes reports from Netflix studios, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers an appetite for new stories.

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It may have started out as a better way to rent movies, but now Netflix is revolutionising the entire American film and TV industries. That’s not news. The next big shift, however, is likely to be the transformation of content production worldwide, and Africa is squarely in the Netflix sights.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, chief product officer Greg Peters said that South Africa and Nigeria were among the many key markets in which it expected to make significant investments in content.

Greg Peters at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re looking to increasingly find storytellers from around the world, especially ones who haven’t been able to tell the story they want because traditional production partners are not willing to tell it, or they can’t find a big enough audience,” he said.

“Our job is to provide a platform, both a production platform, and then a distribution platform, because we are really good at finding audiences that are much much bigger than any storyteller has ever been able to find before. We’re going to invest in every part of the world, including Africa.”

Peters emphasised the need for fresh stories, as opposed to those that repeated traditionally popular formulae.

“We feel like it’s exciting that we don’t have a lot of restrictions. We want compelling stories, a strong vision, authentic story telling, that can come from a whole different range of formats. To open up storytelling in ways that was not opened before.”

Peters was speaking at the end of a two-day Netflix event called Labs Day, which exposed a small group of media from around the world to the inner workings of the business.

Peters revealed that, when he joined Netflix in 2008, he was just one of eight people working on streaming. At that stage, the company was making most of its money from distributing movies on DVD through the mail, with subscriptions and orders managed entirely on the Web.

Click here to read about how Netflix was founded, what it meant to competitors, and what Netflix means to traditional pay-TV.

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Apple unveils TV+ and News+ subscription service

Apple’s video streaming service is set to launch in over 100 countries in the second half of this year, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Late to the premium video streaming game, Apple has unveiled its video streaming platform called Apple TV+.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced yesterday that the service will feature Apple Original content, along with a redesigned Apple TV app that integrates major TV streaming platforms like Hulu and HBO directly into the Apple TV app.

In maintaining the company’s premium image, Cook claims the service will be the “destination for the highest-quality originals”. He backed the statement by handing over to multi-Oscar winning director Steven Speilberg who led the company’s “The Storyteller’s Behind” video. The video below shows off big Hollywood names, including J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, M. Night Shyamalan, Octavia Spencer, Reese Witherspoon, endorsing TV Plus.

Speilberg announced he would be bringing the 93-year-old Amazing Stories book series to TV on Apple’s streaming service. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell discussed their involvement in a predominantly women-hosted Morning Show that deals with “issues that are spoken about behind closed doors”. The stage was filled with major TV personalities, including Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), Big Bird (Sesame Street), and even Oprah.

Apple still has some catching up to do, because Netflix has already spent billions on acquiring and creating new content in 2019 alone.

In a move to remain competitive, subscribers to the service will have access to Apple TV+ through the new Apple TV app on iOS, Mac, Roku, Fire TV, and smart TVs from Samsung and LG, among other.

But will this service be sustainable for Apple in an already saturated market? Mark Skilton, professor of practice at Warwick Business School, said: “Apple TV is not just about seeking a new growth market, it is about a technical shift to “connected smart services” of the future that offer everything online.

“But is Apple going to beat Netflix? Even if they roll out the red carpet for movie stars, it will be a challenge for Apple to provide a compelling new TV experience.”

The service is set to launch in over 100 countries by the end of the year.

Click here to read about Apple News+.

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