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Conservationists mobilise tech to streamline operations in Africa

Argantic director Garry Ackerman.
Argantic director Garry Ackerman.

Peace Parks Foundation, a leader in transfrontier conservation across southern Africa, has invested in Microsoft Teams to streamline its internal communication strategy.

Peace Parks said it is transforming the way in which conservation has historically been managed by using technology to accelerate and augment traditional conservation work.

The organisation has to engage with numerous local and international resources, many of which are situation in remote locations.

But, as Peace Parks’ ICT Systems Engineer, Jeanine van Eyssen explained there was a host of different solutions and applications prior to Teams and it was extremely difficult to manage the environment. The challenge was to have a single integrated means to communicate not only with video, but also voice and chat.

"We also required a repository for project documentation," said van Eyssen.

The company originally sent out a request for quotation for a traditional PBX solution, but were not convinced this was in line with their ‘modernisation’ strategy and started to reach out to non-traditional partners for a voice solution.

Service provider Argantic was selected to deploy the solution and according to Peace Parks, displayed the requisite experience and knowledge to instill confidence in both the solution and the ability to execute.

Peace Parks is now using the solution to begin standardising its communications strategy and said the technology “provides the perfect platform for better first line support.”

With Teams, Peace Parks no longer has to deal with disparate systems and can create standard deployment images for all new PCs.

Van Eyssen added that one of the key benefits of Microsoft Teams is that it is a single integrated cloud-based communications platform. "It enables all our head office staff to operate as if we were sitting in the office. We can also make and receive calls to and from suppliers through this business system easily, whereas before we implemented Teams Voice, staff had to use private phones to make calls, and go through the pain of claiming back call costs."

The deployment cost around R50k and the annual license and hosting is approximately R100k to serve approximately 70 users.

Peace Parks said the solution is significantly more cost effective than would be the case if it had gone the traditional PBX / PSTN route.

Argantic director Garry Ackerman underlined the benefit of Microsoft Teams and described the solution as “the hub for team collaboration in Microsoft 365 that integrates the people, content, and tools your team needs to be more engaged and effective.”

Van Eyssen added: "Everything went smoothly, this was a well-managed and implemented project and all deadlines were met. Argantic performed above expectation, they also provided adequate training and post go live support.”

Peace Parks added that the technology will help it react faster, collect information more effectively and execute more proactively.

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