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The true cost of missed business opportunities during load-shedding

Load-shedding can have a devastating impact on your company, but there are simple (and often affordable) measures that can be taken to mitigate the losses.
Read time 4min 10sec

With load-shedding now a grim near-daily reality for South African business owners and leaders, it is critical to get a grip on what missed calls, interactions and opportunities during power outages are really costing the business.

For a busy e-commerce site, one missed interaction can result in that customer turning immediately to an online rival for the same purchase, eroding loyalty. On a bigger scale, one missed trade (which can occur in milliseconds) can cost a fund manager or commodities trader millions of rand.

The point is that every company can – and should – quantify the losses incurred from being offline and losing critical communications with customers and staff.

Why? Simply put, if you truly understood this figure, you would likely take more proactive action to invest in and install the infrastructure that can keep you online – and literally speaking, in business.

It might not be a comfortable thought, but the sad reality is that many business leaders and owners are not taking responsibility for the simple (and often affordable) measures they can take to mitigate the losses associated with current load-shedding.

Feeling uncomfortable? Read on…

Unsurprisingly, given the global shift towards flexible, remote and cloud-based workforce solutions, there is a great deal of highly accessible and intuitive technology to keep businesses up and running during power outages.

Chief among them, of course, is cloud computing, which has become even more of a necessity because of the mobility – and continuity – it gives businesses that are otherwise, well, sitting in the dark!

There is a great deal of highly accessible and intuitive technology to keep businesses up and running during power outages.

If we loop back to the calculation of what missed opportunities are costing your business, then having this figure in mind would quite possibly make the idea of instigating a few strategic investments far more palatable… possibly even non-negotiable.

Particularly if your business has already shifted critical workflows and tools into the cloud environment (for example, e-mail and phone/VOIP), then there is not much further to go in terms of building in much-needed mobility and continuity. Brilliant news, right?

That said, one non-negotiable is to invest in an inverter and battery packs so that you can immediately switch to batteries when the lights go out (this buys you two to three hours of uptime).

If you have already switched over to VOIP phones for the business, then make sure each phone is not on an individual power socket and they can all be controlled via a single switch.

Today, the vast majority of VOIP phones can be effectively driven by Power over Ethernet.

Now, a critical – and often overlooked – feature of today’s VOIP phones is the ability to forward calls to alternative numbers when there is no connectivity on one line. So, for example, if your Cape Town office is in the dark and no longer connected online, you can make sure VOIP calls are directed to the office in Johannesburg which is still online (or to your home office). This way, your business and staff will not miss a trick.

Another important tool which savvy South African businesses can be harnessing is the emergence of softphone software for mobile devices (in addition to PCs and laptops).

Essentially, softphones allow users to make VOIP calls directly over their computers – but with recent mobile trends, many developers have begun integrating softphone software directly onto users’ mobile devices. Consequently, mobile users are given the same softphone features they would have on their desktop.

Increasingly, as telcos such as Vodacom and MTN struggle to keep their own networks up and running during outages, advanced softphone software and mobile VOIP apps will arguably become even more critical to businesses that simply have to stay connected to survive.

Indeed, the cloud is fast becoming the critical lifeline for local businesses – so it is imperative that leaders and decision-makers ensure they have the right supporting infrastructure and tools to maximise the cloud environment (mobile VOIP apps, call forwarding, etc).

Even more good news? Data centre providers that essentially power your cloud environments have proven to be reliable and have not been offline once despite frequent and ongoing countrywide load-shedding.

Moreover, as new data centres come online in SA and more data becomes ‘resident’ in SA (as opposed to sitting in data centres abroad), we can expect even faster, more responsive and more robust cloud environments in the near future.

So, although load-shedding can give business leaders a persistent headache, it also represents a great opportunity to leverage world-class cloud infrastructure – and build ever-increasing mobility, agility and resilience into your business.

Rob Lith

Chief commercial officer of Telviva

Rob Lith is chief commercial officer of Telviva, powered by Connection Telecom, which he co-founded in 2003. He is an ICT industry heavyweight and Internet specialist who has been involved in the industry for the last 20 years. His lifelong interest in technology has contributed to his in-depth knowledge of Internet markets, technology and products.

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