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By Kevin South, SEACOM Head of Digital and CX

As global digitisation marches relentlessly on, today’s customer is more digitally literate (and more demanding of outstanding customer service) than ever before. They expect an always-on, omnichannel experience – at any time of the day or night. Providing this experience has long been one of the key goals of digital business transformation, no matter what sector you’re in, and no matter the size of your organisation. The benefits don’t end with the customer, either. There are myriad digital tools out there that can help any business achieve greater efficiency, cut costs, and increase business agility as they compete to stay relevant. It all starts, however, with picking the right ISP (Internet Service Provider) – one that can deliver top broadband speeds and provide services that fit the bill perfectly when it comes to versatility, customisation and tailored services.

What the South African business community especially needs is a new-age telco. They need an ISP that clients can work closely with – no matter who their last-mile provider is – to access world-class services via any network on the planet, and enabled by the fibre Internet connectivity that such capacity-intensive tasks demand.

Digital Service Providers and ISPs are increasingly interdependent

Looking to cut phone bills and improve customer service simultaneously? There’s VoIP for that – but you’ll need a better connection to make reliable use of a voice service delivered over the cloud. Looking to make more (or better) use of big data to inform your next strategy? Whether your data is stored on-site or in the cloud, the level of service you get from your ISP will determine whether this is a viable option. As the saying goes, time is money, and optimal speed and reliability of broadband connections is essential for so many of the digital tools businesses rely on in today’s data-hungry world. There’s little point in enlisting cutting-edge cloud-based services if your workplace connection is too shaky to support them.

 The new-age telco: a digital one-stop shop for business

But what if your ISP, last mile provider, and the source of all the services you want to use – from cybersecurity to cloud storage, email and online backups – were one and the same company? What new levels of cost-saving, agility and efficiency might be realised? That was the question we aimed to answer when we launched SEACOM Business in 2015, and subsequently went on to secure over 3 000 new enterprise customers in South Africa and Kenya, to date.

Long known as the owner of the subsea cable that provides much of Africa’s broadband capabilities, SEACOM’s entry into the enterprise arena stems from the acknowledged necessity of businesses to innovate and remain competitive. After all, what good is it to aspire to international trends in digital business excellence when local capabilities fall short?

Just as digital businesses act on the pressure to innovate with new models, products and services, so too do their ISPs – and the new-age telco is the result. Simply, there’s nothing agile about needing to partner with a multitude of disparate companies to deliver the basic set of digital tools that will enable future growth and scalability. A single provider, with a robust broadband infrastructure of its own, and capable of delivering customised and cost-effective solutions, is no longer just a “nice to have.” It is an essential business resource, and a key differentiator when it comes to passing on that convenience to your own customers.

For the traditional telco, embracing a platform business model provides a new way to grow, increasing relevance and value in the fast-expanding digital economy. By leveraging the abundant and scalable capacity of our undersea cable system and continent-wide IP-MPLS network, as well as the capabilities of our cloud services, SEACOM is helping to enable businesses in Africa to smoothly transition to the cloud – and we’re just getting started.


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