MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND FINANCIAL RESULTS
ARC Telecoms makes official entrance into the South Africa’s telecoms space
ARC Telecoms has officially entered the hyper-competitive and increasingly volatile South African communications space with a mandate to dedicate its technologies, services and consultancy to the small and medium business market in South Africa.
“The mid-sized enterprise is the heart of the economy. It’s the 50-200 person businesses that employ the majority of our people and contribute the majority of our GDP, and yet it remains a massively underserviced sector when it comes to telecommunications services,” says ARC Telecoms CEO, Steve Briggs.
“There are a few giants servicing the enterprise space and lots of smaller ISPs all wishing they could. The result is that the true economic powerhouses of the SA economy – medium sized businesses – get lost in the gap between the very small and the very large,” says Briggs.
“ARC isn’t aiming to service the top 500 corporate companies, but we aren’t looking to work with one man home office businesses either. Rather, we have designed our network, services and support to talk to the needs of the IT manager of medium sized company with infrastructure, an IT budget and often more than one office location,” says Briggs.
This focus on the midmarket has defined ARC’s business model and many of the sales, service and support approaches that the company has adopted.
“When we looked at what we could do to make the IT buying decision easier for local SMEs we realized that clients needed more information before they made the final choice to purchase or implement a technology,” says Briggs. “Rather than bombard already busy people with more spec sheets or white paper we offer a no-strings-attached 14-day trial of any entry-level connectivity or voice service. Where feasible we set up a two week trial, where you are able to test the solution in your business environment before committing to a longer term contract.”
In terms of SME-specific support that ARC offers businesses, Briggs highlights the adoption of a high-touch customer service model. “Every client has a dedicated account manager, not just the top few. There is nothing that says, ‘You don’t actually matter to us’ more clearly for South African businesses than being palmed off on a contact centre. We make sure customers have a specific, senior person who is responsible for getting your problems sorted out,” says Briggs.
Another important business model choice for ARC was carrier independence. “Rather than get into the bun fight with the other ISPs over who has the biggest network, we partner with a set of carriers. This way, we can source the best last mile connectivity option for our clients on a case by case basis and put our energy into creating products and value added services that make a real difference to our clients,” says Briggs.
The service level agreements are another area where ARC has taken a realistic attitude. “We all want a perfect network that never goes down, with technicians solving any problem in seconds. But this isn’t always possible or affordable, or even necessary. We offer our customers realistic, price-competitive SLAs that we can all live with, and that delivers what their business needs to run. It not about perfect networks – its about having the right level of service so that technology doesn’t get in the way of business, ” says Briggs.
The company’s leadership team are all veterans of the telecommunications industry, who together own 50% of ARC. Alan Knott-Craig’s investment company, WOA, owns the other 50 percent. It has launched with over 100 active customers and has agreements with significant local carriers such as WBS, Telkom, Neotel, MTN and Vodacom. ARC also has the support of its advanced technical service delivery partners, Neology and Think IT.