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Communications the surprising poor relation of business

Communications is critical to any successful business. Effective communication with your staff, customers and suppliers is what leads to effective outcomes, writes DANNY DREW, Managing Director, Avaya South Africa.

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Oddly though, business communications tends to be something of a forgotten child in the IT family. Often overlooked, communications get less attention than the rest of a business’s technological infrastructure and can go for years without an upgrade or review.

Communications today are far less about picking up the phone – and instead about a whole universe of data-based mediums including email, instant messaging, text messaging, bespoke apps, video and webchat. To communicate and collaborate effectively, a company needs to view its systems in a holistic sense, with desktops, mobiles and tablets all intrinsically linked and voice, video, multi-media messaging and team communications closely intertwined with business processes.

To provide a picture of the way in which communications are developing, simply take a look at contact centres. Staff are as likely to be live chatting on online messaging systems with clients as talking to them on the phone. A successful organisation should respond to its customers in the way they want to communicate – be it by text, email, live chat or voice – rather than dictating how they should get in touch.

For years, Avaya’s CS1000 system has been a mainstay of business communications. It’s been a fantastic and reliable solution which has proven its worth and more than repaid its investment. However in order to keep up with the pace of technological change, it is time to turn the page. Avaya’s  communication solutions – including Avaya Aura and IP Office –give businesses a seamless and flexible way of accessing different channels of communication, and serve as a foundation for the long-term digitalisation of industries.

Recent research commissioned by Avaya and conducted by IDC asked enterprises what drives their digital transformation efforts. Of the respondents, 62% said they wanted improved employee productivity – followed by 54% for enhanced customer experience. That long-term thinking is, of course, entirely rational – by making staff more productive, you can tick off the other boxes, reducing frustration for customers and ultimately saving money for the bottom line.

Avaya’s latest communications software offers far greater flexibility and compatibility than its predecessors, and helps businesses be nimble and to respond to market changes quickly. In fact, it’s remarkably easy to deploy – customers can opt to reuse existing Avaya handsets if they wish, data migration has been automated and it’s easy to integrate with other applications. On top of that, there are financial benefits – such as discounts on software, hardware and services as well as packages that allow customers to pay on a per usage basis, rather than through an upfront, capex based licensing fee.

There are many powerful positive reasons for giving due attention to your communications core. And similarly, there are risks if you don’t give it any focus. If you neglect it, you could miss out on a great opportunity to boost your business by interacting in a smoother, reliable and more effective way with key customers.

Which is why Avaya is making it as easy and cost effective as possible to upgrade to our Avaya Aura and IP Office platforms. With flexibility for deployment on cloud or on-premise and the option to upgrade at a pace that aligns with your business objectives, Avaya is enabling customer to simply put communications firmly at the core of their business, so they can truly keep track of what their customers want and need and help their staff meet those customer needs quickly and effectively every time.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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