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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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Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC

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International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

Region2018
Shipments
2018 Market
Share
2023
Shipments*
2023 Market
Share*
2018-2023
CAGR*
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%
Total175.8100.0%332.9100.0%13.6%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s

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Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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