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Updated 29 Feb 2020

Being in business means being available 24/7

In today’s competitive world, you can’t afford not to be contactable. Here’s how to do it.

Derek Hershaw, Entrepreneur, 30 October 2013  Share  0 comments  Print

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In today’s fast-paced world when time is money, and money is tight, no entrepreneur can afford not to be contactable at all times.

Fortunately, with the advances in communications technology – particularly VoIP (Voice over IP) and video conferencing – this is no longer as difficult as it used to be.

Let’s start with VoIP. How many contact numbers do you have printed on your business card? Two? Three? Four? Can you really expect an anxious customer or busy associate to keep trying all your different numbers in the hope of reaching you?

VoIP means always being in touch

Now, thanks to advances in VoIP which allows voice calls to be directed over the Internet, mobile voice connectivity a reality. Callers can reach you at your home, in your office, in an airport lounge – indeed, wherever you happen to be – simply by calling a single number.

In addition, you can accept and make calls on most devices – a VoIP phone, mobile handset or any phone connected to the public phone network – as if it was the phone on your desk in your office. And you can even take the call with you as you switch between connectivity modes.

For example, a customer can call your office landline and the call will be transferred to you at your desk; but you are on your way to a meeting, so – using the office WiFi system – you are able to continue the conversation as you walk through the building to your car. Then, as you drive off, your call is automatically transferred to the 3G/GSM network.

Never travel to a meeting again

Of course, with video conferencing you might not even have to travel to meetings either. After all, who can afford the wasted time and high cost of battling through two-hour traffic jams to get to a one-hour meeting a few kilometers away?

Large corporations have spent huge sums on developing dedicated video conferencing facilities because it is more cost-effective to gather participants into a few video conferencing facilities across the country than to try and get everyone together into one room.

For the rest of us – well, we’ve tried to make do with low-cost or free video chat services. These are great products that work well in the situations for which they were intended – catch up chats between distant family and friends.

But their voice and video quality, and their reliability is just not optimal for business use. They also don’t allow for multiple participants spread across numerous locations.

The age of video conferencing

Now video conferencing is coming of age.  There are cost-effective solutions that deliver affordable, flexible, high-quality, reliable “virtual meeting” solutions for business people everywhere.

These solutions allow participants – any number of participants – to meet in the Cloud using whatever computing device they prefer. They could be at their desk, at home, in a café in Paris or on the factory floor. Provided they have a video camera and broadband access to the Internet, they can participate in a virtual meeting with their colleagues, customers or suppliers.

There’s no need to invest in expensive proprietary equipment. In addition, because the software is hosted in the Cloud, anyone can be given access to the meeting.

Effectively, this means you can work where and how you want, and always be in touch.

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About the author

Derek Hershaw, Entrepreneur

Derek Hershaw, CEO of MWEB ISP, joined in 1998 as general manager of the Dial Services Division. In 2003, he took over as general manager of Operations, managing the front and back office customer support environments and became CEO of MWEB ISP in December 2009. Before joining MWEB, Hershaw worked for Norwich Life for nine years, primarily in their Client Services Division. He holds a BCom (Honours) degree in Economics from Rhodes University.

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