Orion Telecom’s Uniserver SMS product, a solution aimed at the insurance and financial services sectors, is being adopted by several players in these fields, including Nedbank.

The Uniserver SMS offering is an extension of customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives, allowing targeted messages that provide accurate and relevant information directly to clients.

"Uniserver SMS delivers SMS messages directly to GSM networks from the originator’s premises without having to connect to a central bureau system - providing improved security for sensitive customer information," says Ian Purves, business development manager at Orion.

"With a built-in Web-server and database where all records are stored and from where all reports are generated, the solution gives businesses complete control of their SMS marketing and communication campaigns."

He says that while e-mail solutions may work for clients who have PCs, they effectively ignore the far larger market of mobile users.

Purves states that effective SMS communication must not fall into the bracket of spam, but must rather add value in the corporate communication mix as an integral component of a customer relationship management strategy.

Nedbank’s Treasury Division has begun enhancing its communications with clients by implementing the Uniserver SMS solution.

"Uniserver SMS will become an invaluable additional communication channel, allowing us to provide an improved service to our clients," says Moss Brickman, head of international derivatives at Nedbank’s Treasury Division.

"The trading environment often depends on split-second timing. With this product we will be able to notify clients immediately when certain levels are reached or breached, while we will also be able to inform clients by beeping them if a particular customer system is down."

He says Nedbank also plans to expand its use of the service to send clients important financial information, such as indices at the end of the trading day and notification of successful trades.

South African life assurance company, Clientèle Life, has also used Orion’s service to streamline the operation of its systems.

As the company provides its services to the entry-level of the insurance market, keeping costs to a minimum is key to its ability to provide affordable services, it says.

"Clientèle uses Uniserver SMS to advise clients when their debit orders are due, allowing them to ensure that sufficient funds are available in their accounts, which increases our collections, as well as saving the client money by avoiding returned debit orders," says Fergus McCloskey, executive director at Optimise IT, the company’s in-house technology department.

"Furthermore, the system allows Clientèle to notify clients of updates or changes to policy details, and advise clients of new products or services, and has done a great deal to assist in keeping costs down.

"SMS communication has surpassed e-mail, voice and traditional mail as the channel of choice for millions of South Africans, and Uniserver SMS equips businesses to take advantage of the enormous potential of this medium to keep in contact with clients and employees, says Purves.

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* The Director-General of ART, the Senegalese regulator said in Mutations at the end of March:"The liberalisation of the telecoms sector has already been launched. And it’s not an option for the Government to prolong the monopoly of SONATEL. It put a time on this monopoly finishing and we’re going to be making more precise (what this means) in the days to come." The date? 19 July 2004. Already there are signs that SONATEL is lobbying for an extension of its monopoly.

* John Musajjakawa, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) in-charge of information, communication and technology (ICT), said last week that ICT is one of the ways the Government is planning to curb corruption."If the new system is developed, you fill passport forms on-line and pensioners will get their pay on-line. It will be hard to ask for a bribe," he said.

* "Softstart enables software entrepreneurs to get the most of their partnership with Oracle, a relationship which Softstart facilitates," says Ben Zaaiman, CEO of Softstart. "It gives them an introduction to the enterprise space in particular." Oracle has announced its sponsorship of Softstart, the technology and business incubator designed to enable small, micro and medium enterprises in the South African ICT sector to develop their technology innovations to full commercial potential. Softstart helps software entrepreneurs grow sustainable businesses. Through its partnership with Oracle, it offers entrepreneurs exposure to a range of resources and contacts in the industry. For more information, please contact Ben Zaaiman, CEO of Softstart, on (012) 349 2355.