Aiding agritech with the cloud

16 December 2022

AFGRI Technology Services (ATS), part of AFGRI Group Holdings, is a leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprise. The enterprise works toward the development and implementation of agricultural technology solutions which will help ensure both the future of agriculture and enable food security for Africa and the world at large.

AFGRI offers innovation growth and advisory services, innovation consulting, project management, and management services, in order to develop and build client capabilities within the agritech sector. With such a heavy reliance on communications, and indeed, for an organisation offering its own digital products and services and mobile apps, AFGRI was hindered with a poorly organised telephone system, for both mobile and fixed calls.

“The AFGRI IT service desk, which supports many users across the country, was struggling with frequently dropped calls,” said Frederik van Staden, senior account manager: WAN and ISP services at eNetworks, a wholly owned Datacentrix company. “This not only caused frustration for service desk team members and users alike, but repeated calls to different regions were also costly.”

AFGRI sought outside assistance to improve its capabilities and streamline operations, landing on Datacentrix.

Cloud-based telephony for fixed and mobile calls

Plans were established, and in time, AFGRI implemented a cloud-based telephony solution that could be integrated with its ITIL-compliant IT service management (ITSM) solution, for use by the internal IT support team.

“Traditional contact centre telephony systems can be integrated with typical CRM, ERP or ITSM software through customised programming, but this can be a lengthy, expensive process. The cloud-based phone system implemented at AFGRI was put forward due to its native integration into the support channel. It takes only a few clicks and can be deployed quickly and easily because no hardware is required for operation,” said van Staden. “The eNetworks Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking service, which interconnects with the phone system, means that calls between the branches and the service desk are zero-rated – so no cost is associated with these calls – even though the branches use a different telephone system.”

The solution has improved support levels and delivered cost savings. Indeed, some 786 calls were reported on as zero-rated for AFGRI over a month-long period, at an average of 7.7 minutes per call, translating into great cost savings for the organisation. As a result, AFGRI’s support team can now spend more time on the phone in order to support their local user base, which is evidenced by the increase in average call duration.

“For the 12 months prior to the rollout, AFGRI’s average duration per call was four minutes. Now, with zero-rated calls, calls are averaging 7.7 minutes in length – almost double – which has had a positive impact on the service desk’s first-call resolution rate,” said van Staden.

The more efficient, robust system saves AFGRI users time on searching for the right records, as the caller’s details appear on the screen as soon as the phone rings. Engineers are able to save more time on every call by doing away with manual data entry. Calls are automatically logged as support tickets, along with key details about the call, including whether it is inbound or outbound, answered or missed, and the name of the line that was used. All call comments captured in the telephony system are also logged, along with a link to the call recording itself.

“The mobile nature of the cloud-based system is a great advantage for hybrid workplaces, as users only need a computer or smart phone and an Internet connection. Managers can effectively manage the service teams remotely through the advanced reporting and measurement KPIs,” said van Staden.