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Buy a PBX or Host in the Cloud?

Here are 8 questions to ask yourself before choosing to go the tradional or cloud route with your PBX system.

Rapelang Rabana




What do you do when your business needs a phone system? Whether you are a small company that’s growing every month with more telephone lines strewn on the floor or an established business that is having problems with its current phone system, there comes a point when you need to think about what to do next.

The options of office phone systems available today have gotten even wider with the introduction of cloud-hosted PBX systems alongside the traditional on-site PBX systems. Knowing what to look for enables you to decide which solution works for you and your business. The following are some practical questions you need to ask yourself when considering a cloud hosted or on-site PBX system:

What is the cost of ownership?

Traditional On-site PBX: There is the capital outlay, which is not just the price the system, but also any installation costs. If you have multiple branches, there would be PBX required for each of your branches, not just your head office. Being the owner of the system also means there is on-going maintenance costs which depending on the complexity of the PBX can be expensive if only a select group of experts can maintain it. Ongoing maintenance costs occur it If the system as any problems, if you need to change any configurations, or if you need any upgrades.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: A cloud-hosted PBX service is a ‘software as a service’ which do not take the risks and costs of ownership of – these remain with the service provider who manages and maintains the PBX in the private data centre. The main on-site equipment required are VoIP enabled phones to connect to the hosted PBX over your internet line. Your internet connection may need to improve to cater for greater usage and a back-up access point like a 3G Router should your primary internet line go down is essential. The capital outlay would still be significantly less.

What is the cost of phone calls?

Traditional On-site PBX: You need a PBX to make calls, so these rates should be made clear upfront. Look carefully at the details. Is there a connection fee? Is there minimum amount payable on each call? Do you have to buy a bundle of minutes to get access to the lower rates and if you don’t use the bundle by the end of month, do you loose it? The telecoms regulations in South Africa are lowering the rates to call mobile phones every March for the next 2 years – will you get the benefit of those rate drops?

Cloud-Hosted PBX: VoIP is used to make calls in a hosted PBX, giving you access to highly competitive calling rates. VoIP calling rates are in general more aggressive than the rates from the incumbent operators. VoIP rates are also now more competitive than the rates you used to get on Least Cost Routing devices (LCR), which were the boxes with SIM cards to make calls to mobile phones.

How does the system scale as my business grows?

Traditional On-site PBX: There is a limit to the number of extensions the PBX can support. When your company grows beyond a certain size, like 10 or 20 or 50, you would need to buy a totally new PBX or pay for an upgrade. But you also need to think about scale if you have multiple branches. An on-site PBX is exactly that – its ‘on-site’ so everywhere you have a ‘site’ you will need a PBX system if you add a new office or branch too which incurs additional capital outlay.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: There is no limitation to adding more extensions as the service provider can manage their scale of operations without a physical limitation of a box. Because its irrelevant to a hosted PBX where each person is connecting, as you add more branches or offices, locally or internationally, they can all still connect to the same system.

What happens if I need more telephone numbers?

Traditional On-site PBX: Typically, each additional number must be ordered, which can take few weeks and incurs and monthly line rental fee for as long as you use the number.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: Additional numbers can be obtained for a small activation fee or at a significantly less rental as you do not need to pay for a physical line connection.

What happens if I don’t like and want to change?

Traditional On-site PBX: Contracts are typically for 24 months and can be even longer if you are tied to financing agreement to pay of the PBX over a few years, making getting out very difficult. With this kind of lock-in you are precluded for benefiting from new products and technologies that become available.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: Contract terms are month to month, as with most ‘software as a service’ products. So you are not tied down to system you don’t like or that ceases to meet your needs.

How flexible is the system to change settings to suit work patterns?

Traditional On-site PBX: Changing any configurations would require an understanding of PBX equipment and most businesses simply won’t maintain that expertise in house. This means you would need to call on your service provider to make changes even as small as changing an IVR or changing extensions.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: Hosted PBX’s expose their features and functions through a web interface, so you can log into your account online and opt to change settings like IVR’s and extensions without waiting on someone else.

Can the system help me control and manage my costs?

Traditional On-site PBX: You can only control costs are made fully aware off. Getting a bill at the end of the month makes it impossible to be proactive about your telecoms expenditure. To block things like international calls, or cancelling a number you don’t need generally require making a call to the call centre and writing letters. If you need to breakdown your costs per staff member, or per department is generally impossible without getting an additional system.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: Access to real-time reporting to the costs you are incurring puts in control of your expenses. Cloud systems can even allow you to set a maximum expenditure budget for specific people if you need to contain costs. Through the online interface you can subscribe and unsubscribe for services on the fly.

What happens when I need an additional feature?

Traditional On-site PBX: A PBX box will have the same features it had when you first bought it and unless you purchase an additional module or upgrade, you would not be able to get more features as you need them. Generally, functions like call recording, telephone management system (TMS) that provides costs breakdowns per department, and SMS messaging are completely separate systems.

Cloud-Hosted PBX: The hosted PBX would typically have a comprehensive set of features that you would previously only get in the top end PBX that were too expensive for most businesses. Furthermore, the features and functions are developed on an ongoing basis and you would be automatically upgraded when a new service is rolled out without purchasing a new system.

As with any new concepts and ideas, there is that initial reluctance from many to use a cloud-hosted service. We like to ‘own’ things, but building expertise in and maintaining systems that could just as easily be sourced from the cloud will begin to make less and less sense as it diverts critical resources from core business areas. Why do you want to be in the business of phone systems in addition to your main business? Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google said “Conventional wisdom on cloud computing was that: these were toy systems, that were not going to be reliable, and that people would never store their information in the cloud. But that is all wrong… think about what is really going on here. Wouldn’t it better to have a qualified professional who is operating at absolute scale with a very strong incentive to keep you happy and trust them to do what they do? It actually works.”

Rapelang Rabana is the co-founder and CEO of SA based software development organisation, Yeigo. She oversaw the company’s integration into the TelFree Group of companies in 2008. Now as Global Head of R&D, she and her colleagues in Cape Town continue to ensure that the telecommunications pioneer remains at the forefront of alternative communications through highly innovative software applications across the telecommunications spectrum. Visit and for more information.

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Company Posts

How TomTom Telematics Can Keep Your Business Moving Forward

Successful businesses need to find ways to improve their margins while still delivering excellent and efficient customer service. VDM’s CEO, Deon van der Merwe, explains why this wouldn’t be possible in his business without TomTom Telematics’ solutions.

TomTom Telematics



TomTom telematics

When TomTom Telematics entered the South African market in 2010, the local team took a deep dive into the different industry verticals they were servicing.

The more they got to know their customers, the more they realised a different solution was needed to address local conditions, and a subscription model was introduced whereby customers didn’t need to invest a large capital outlay into TomTom Telematics’ technology, but would receive the tech and software, including installation, at no extra cost, in exchange for a monthly subscription fee.

This model gives SMEs affordable access to TomTom Telematics’ solutions, but it’s had another benefit as well: As TomTom Telematics introduces new innovations, existing customers can benefit — without the costs associated with replacing all of their existing technology themselves.

An indispensable tool

For a transport and logistics business like VDM Group, which has more than 160 vehicles on the road, this means they have access to incredible new offerings, without needing to replace their TomTom units themselves.

“TomTom plays a critical role in our business,” says Deon van der Merwe, CEO of VDM Group. “It’s an indispensable tool in ensuring quality customer feedback and the management of KPIs for all supply chain stakeholders.

“Earlier this year, TomTom Telematics launched their New WEBFLEET product. We were very satisfied with what we had, and yet they still approached us and offered to replace all our existing units with new tablets, and they’re covering the installation costs,” explains Deon.

Related: Driving Your Business Growth Towards More Customers

“New WEBFLEET is the result of TomTom innovating their product based on customer feedback from around the world, and the local team wanted to ensure we had access to the additional functionality and innovations that had been introduced.”

Seamless integration with your network

According to Deon, the new TomTom PRO 8275 units seamlessly integrate VDM’s fleet scheduling software with information they extract from TomTom, including individual vehicles’ standing time and arrival notifications.

“The software from TomTom is open API, which means that all our various applications can communicate and interact with each other,” he explains. “From a productivity perspective, we no longer need to manually capture any trip information.

In addition, we have every conceivable piece of data available that will assist us to run a leaner, more cost-effective fleet, enabling us to ensure that we are delivering on all our KPIs — particularly with regards to meeting our customers’ needs.”

Related: Changing The Shape Of What’s Possible

VDM is a large transport business, but Deon believes the benefits for SMEs are as great, if not more so. “Many SMEs don’t have the back-office support that we do. The ability to capture and use this information without a team of admin specialists at your disposal is a huge competitive advantage for smaller businesses,” he says.

Offering you the competitive edge

VDM offers a specialised logistics service that creates custom-made options for clients. In order to ensure the most optimal and cost-effective solutions, while still ensuring top quality delivery, they need to consider special and complex individual customer requirements, from the point of origin to the point of destination, before finalising a customer-specific solution.

“We take into account a host of factors, including inventory carrying costs, volume requirements, product specific factors and route to market,” explains Deon.

“Road transport significantly impacts total supply chain costs, and if not managed properly, can have a severe impact on the sustainability of any particular channel. We try and manage this risk by continuously improving our service through innovative logistical solutions, the use of advanced technology, vertical integration and a team of passionate and talented experts.

TomTom assists in creating differentiators

“This focus has helped us to develop a market offering that includes dedicated and completely flexible inter-modal solutions, which is a big differentiator for us. TomTom Telematics plays a key role in our total productivity, helping us measure the performance of road transport across our supply chain.”

Deon believes that what you don’t measure you won’t know.

“TomTom provides updated fleet statistics that allow us to constantly benchmark our fleet against pre-defined route surveys and, in so doing, enables massive savings in fuel and total turnaround time.

Communicating via the WEBFLEET platform also helps us save time and creates a formal trail of correspondence with our drivers. I don’t believe it’s possible to successfully run a business like ours without a solution like this.”

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Company Posts

Sasfin Continues To Support SME Growth

Sasfin’s equity stake in fintech lender Payabill set to enhance SME growth.






In another major step forward in supporting growth in SMEs, Sasfin today announced that it has acquired a strategic stake in fast-growing fintech lender Payabill.

Payabill, a 100% digital lending business, provides working capital and/or trade finance to small businesses. The collaboration between Sasfin and Payabill accelerates financing opportunities for customers.

Sasfin, South Africa’s leading business challenger bank, last year successfully launched its digital platform, B\\YOND, for SMEs.

“Sasfin has been investing in fintechs, building digital capabilities (such as B\\YOND) and working with third parties (such as XERO Accounting) for a number of years with the aim of adding value to our business and wealth clients. Payabill has made huge strides in giving businesses access to digital finance and we are thrilled to announce this investment,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon.

Payabill CEO Eli Michal launched the pioneering fintech start up in SA in 2017. Payabill settles suppliers directly for its clients and allows clients to select their own extended payment terms. “We are incredibly excited by the opportunity afforded to Payabill by having Sasfin as an equity and debt partner. Sasfin will provide access to new channels and much needed funding that enables us to support the growth of small business finance in South Africa,” says Michal.

Michal started the fintech as he “wanted to enhance access to finance for small businesses in South Africa. We all know that boosting small business creates jobs and enables growth. Traditional lenders have neglected this segment of the market due to the high costs associated with on-boarding and assessing these customers, as well as managing their credit risk. It made no sense to us that a retail consumer could get multiple forms of credit, almost instantly via electronic channels, but small businesses could not. They were being neglected. With this in mind, we set out to build a completely paperless, digital solution to address this market’s unique requirements.”

Currently, Payabill offers loans of up to R150 000 to businesses. The intention is that with the investment made by Sasfin, Payabill will be able to offer larger loans to SMEs in the near future.

The alignment of Payabill’s aims and Sasfin’s long-term focus on small business in SA made for an ideal partnership. “SMEs can now borrow digitally, via Payabill, and bank via B\\YOND from Sasfin – reducing admin and costs which often stifles small business growth. Both B\\YOND and Payabill are gaining meaningful traction in the SME market and there are a host of additional digital initiatives that we are working on to further help small businesses thrive,” says Sassoon.

“While Sasfin has always offered a trade and debtor finance solution, this was largely for more established businesses. The new offering speaks to smaller businesses that are passionate about growth, and our larger Trade and Debtor Finance offering will be there to support businesses that reach the next phase in their development,” says Sassoon.

Sasfin Holdings Limited (“Sasfin” or “the Group” or “the Company”) is a bank-controlling company listed in the “Financials: Investment Services” sector of the JSE Limited (“the JSE”).  Sasfin and its subsidiaries provide a wide range of complementary banking, financial and related services.

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Company Posts

Driving Your Business Growth Towards More Customers

Designed to help its customers get the most from their businesses through the right telematics solution, New WEBFLEET can help you reach your customers quicker, get more done, improve efficiencies, save costs and boost your revenues.

TomTom Telematics




Europe’s highly regulated operating environment has made telematics ubiquitous in business. On the one hand, this means industries across the spectrum have become safer, more efficient and highly productive across the EU. On the other, it’s much harder to stand out from the crowd when everyone follows the same best practice standards.

“We don’t have those same stringent regulations in place,” says Justin Manson, Sales Director, Africa at TomTom Telematics. “Our clients have realised what a huge competitive advantage this actually offers them though.

“Locally, everyone understands the role that telematics plays in tracking what your drivers are doing right and wrong, and use it as a tool for encouraging good driving practices, but there’s so much more to this solution, and we’re making it our mission to help business owners really use it to their benefit.

“When deployed across the organisation to its full capabilities, a telematics system can radically improve productivity and workflow. Done correctly, a business can save up to 10% on its bottom line, and redeploy that cash into the company’s growth, thanks to drivers reaching customers quicker and getting more done. The right data also increases productivity and ensures better turnaround times.”

Thomas Schmidt, MD of TomTom Telematics, loves visiting South Africa for this very reason. “Because so many business owners aren’t using telematics to their full extent, there’s such a huge opportunity for us to assist businesses in their growth here,” he says. “We deliver a high-value stack of products that can change the way companies operate, and most importantly help them save money and make money. The challenge for us is educating our customers so that they understand what our solutions offer, and the incredible impact they can have on a business. We consistently improve these solutions based on customer feedback as well, making them very much from customers for customers.

Related: Why Your Fleet Management Plays a Pivotal Role In Your Business

“Anyone can buy a map for less than R100. Why invest in such expensive devices? The answer is because we’ve developed solutions that change lives. With the right data — and access to that data — you increase safety, simplify your business, drive efficiencies, increase your output and customer service, and ensure you are always productive and reliable — across the organisation. And that impact can be measured, and given a real ROI value.

“Imagine the impression companies that operate at that level make on their industries. They stand out from their competitors. There is so much room for growth in South Africa as we deploy these solutions.”

Game-changing solutions

As an organisation, TomTom Telematics is focused on continuous growth and innovation as well, constantly learning from market conditions, its customers and industry needs to improve its product offerings.

The result is the launch of New WEBFLEET in February 2018. “We’ve increased the value we offer our customers,” says Thomas. “We’ve collated data from hundreds of thousands of customers around the world who gave us their feedback through surveys, and New WEBFLEET is a window into easy-to-use, smart fleet management that is a game changer for companies.”

“TomTom Telematics is in the business of helping businesses,” agrees Justin. “Our goal is help our customers master their challenges. The right data at your fingertips will help you change the way you operate. That’s our goal. How much cash is being left on the table in an organisation because of inefficiencies?”

Introducing New Webfleet

The smartest way to manage your vehicles and mobile workforce

tomtom-telematicsTomTom Telematics’ state of the art Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) fleet management solution, with best-in-class user interface, is inspired by two decades of working together with customers to achieve more for better fleet management. New WEBFLEET is everything you need to manage your vehicles in the cloud, in real time. It allows you to monitor reports and dashboards, manage orders/workflow, and improve driving behaviour, safety and service, helping you save fuel and reduce costs.

Best-in-class user interface

  • A future-proof platform with a completely renewed interface, based on the latest HTML5 technology and driven by continuous innovation.
  • Simple and clean interface, with minimised clicks for faster working.
  • Intuitive functionality, means it is more accessible for greater impact across your business.
  • User rights management and state-of-the-art data handing ensures the highest level of data privacy and data security.
  • Fast access to the right information.

Related: Fleet Tools Will Help You Get More Done In Less Time

Map view

Know where your vehicles are and where they have been. Different map options such as Google, Google Street View or satellite map are enriched with traffic information, giving you a more detailed view on what’s happening on the roads. Toggle between different types of information on the map such as traffic, addresses and areas and create specific views, so you only see the information you need.


New WEBFLEET’s dashboard gives an overview of performance at a glance. Up to 27 KPIs can be used to track the performance of vehicles, individuals, benchmark teams or give a simple overview. This helps you to track real-time performance against your pre-defined KPIs.


New WEBFLEET gives you instant access to the information that matters, meaning you can spot trends over time and use real-time information to make smarter and more informed decisions. You can instantly download or schedule reports to help you stay on top of everything — from fuel efficiency and legal compliance to quality of service.

Manage on the move

New WEBFLEET is optimised so you can manage your fleet on any device by entering WEBFLEET through a web browser or by downloading the WEBFLEET Mobile app on your smartphone.

Send routes direct to drivers

  • Plan accurate routes in New WEBFLEET by adjusting multiple variables such as location, time of departure/arrival, traffic and vehicle type.
  • Get a choice of alternative routes, as well as suggested fastest route with traffic.
  • Customise your route by simply adding new waypoints, or dragging and dropping existing waypoints on a route. Then choose from guided or forced route* options.
  • Send planned routes directly to a TomTom PRO driver terminal to keep your drivers on the right track.

Related: Time Is Money And It’s Time You Saved Both When Running Your Fleet

Personalised Map views*

  • Create your own saved map view to reach information you need fast.
  • Switch between vehicle groups or areas, without needing to adjust the map filters and zoom levels. n


Many ways to customise WEBFLEET to suit individual requirements from personalised views to adding information to make what you see more informative on one page.

Plan a route the way you want it

Use multiple variables (including waypoints) to give fastest or most efficient routes.


Across different device types, allowing you to always stay on top of business.

Simple, clean and easy to administer

Toggle between views to get the right information to focus on the task in hand. Get the right information to the right people at the right time, keep data secure and in the right hands.

Send routes to driver terminals

In real time, ensure drivers follow or avoid specific routes.

Visit and follow us on Twitter @TomTomWEBFLEET

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