California-based global provider of collaborative communications solutions, Free Conferencing Corporation, recently launched its flagship product, FreeConferenceCall.com, in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
The company has confirmed that it will focus on its digital acquisition methodology, SMS and fixed/mobile operators to build awareness and secure the required critical mass to establish a firm footprint in Africa.
According to the company while the collaborative communications market in Africa is in its early stages of development, the technology and tools represent a game-changer for local communities and businesses.
The IDG Enterprise 2015 Unified Communications & Collaboration Study has found that 56% of large- and 66% of SME organisations plan to implement or upgrade UC & C solutions within the next year.
Stefan Mayer, managing director at Corporate AV Integration, referenced this Study and has also said that South African companies are becoming particularly interested in videoconferencing and telepresence elements of unified communications.
Josh Lowenthal, chief operating officer of FreeConferenceCall.com, says all indicators point to massive growth in Africa in the near future. "At the end of the day, there are only a few true applications in voice, and conferencing is a killer voice application. The PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) remains the ubiquitous, highest-quality media for voice, and will remain so for at least the next decade and quite possibly beyond."
The company expects consumer rates/ bundles for voice dropping quickly. "The combination of this phenomena mean people will want to do more with their phone plans, and group calling for business or social reasons is a huge offering ,"Lowenthal continues.
He adds that establishing partnerships with the carrier community is the foundation of the business. "We offer a no-lose mechanism for regional fixed and mobile operators to bolster voice traffic using existing infrastructure."
Leaning on user data in real-time is also part of the company's market strategy. "For example, if a USA conference organiser hosts a call with Nigerian participants and those Nigerian participants use the USA access number, we immediately notify that host that the participants may use our local Nigerian access number instead," says Lowenthal.
While the company has outlined its strategy, the ability to sustain itself within competitive regions in Africa will depend on how quickly it is able to address challenges.
The company believes there is a need to expand from what it describes as simply audio conferencing to include screen sharing and video collaboration. "We further want to enable FreeConferenceCall.com users to personalise their conferencing experience, from custom hold music, personalised greetings, and Meeting Walls for those that use screen sharing."
Going forward the emphasis will be on collaboration and the strategic use of tools to ease communication.
The company has selected 55 countries to launch services in, on a country-by-country basis, with an evaluation of regulatory environments, available network infrastructure and potential users.