Article provided by SYSPRO
It is no secret that technology has the potential to bring with it unprecedented change to economies, industries and organisations across the board. While most of the focus has been placed on the industry giants of the corporate world in this regard – it is crucial that the spotlight be placed on the vast amount of small businesses that have come to the fore, many of which have either already created services and solutions that directly address and solve socio-economic needs in their respective regions, or have the potential to do so.
In the past few years, particularly in regions such as Kenya and South Africa, digital transformation and the advanced technologies it has brought with it has provided entrepreneurs with the opportunity to create, innovate and scale far beyond than what would otherwise be possible.
Small businesses have realised the importance of embracing these technologies as a direct vector to remaining locally and, potentially, globally competitive. Furthermore, these start-ups have also recognised that fulfilling organisational strategy, and achieving their bottom line are also dependant on it.
Below are some key benefits for small businesses who are only now realising or being exposed to what advanced technologies can do for their business. By embracing and implementing these benefits, they can provide a limitless platform for potential scaling and give a competitive advantage to start-ups.
Mobility – the modern workplace
Small businesses, unlike most big corporates, often require stakeholders to have the ability to work from various venues in changing environments. Online technologies that allow for team sharing, collaboration, meetings, and improved connectivity across the board have made it possible for it to remain ‘business as usual’ no matter the place or time. Ideally, small businesses should invest in mobile solutions as part of their strategies for coping with the downturn in the economy.
These technologies can aid businesses to save time and money by freeing employees from their desks and allowing them to utlise their time productively wherever they are. Technologies such as wireless broadband, Wi-Fi hotspots, and cellular technologies such as GPRS and 3G are all helping small businesses in operating more efficiently.
Improved customer experience
With customer expectations changing at a rapid pace – small businesses, particularly those that offer personalised services and address direct consumer needs must embrace modern technologies that directly impact customer experience positively. A user-friendly experience with quick turnaround times always rises to the top of consumer issues in environments that are non-condusive.
The more businesses scale – the more parts there are to areas that require constant attention, availability and access. Often times supply and demand can easily fall by the way side as organisations attempt to juggle meeting objectives internally with satisfying the consumer’s appetite. Technologies such as SYSPRO ERP directly address these needs directly. Implementing an ERP system effectively can allow small businesses to access real-time and automated data as well as better management of inventory across the board.
While larger companies may be able to invest in expensive IT infrastructure to monitor their security, many small businesses do not have the same budgets available. However, information and data are just as important to a small business as it is in larger organisations – therefore protecting it is just as vital – especially if scaling is the end objective.
From secure coverage for a Wi-Fi network to the accessibility of network experts to protect networks and the data they contain; sufficient and improved security should be top of the list for a small business.
A global platform
Ultimately, the more small businesses become accustomed to integrating advanced technologies into the everyday workflow – the more there will be opportunities to scale, taking solutions to greater and bigger territories, whether this be locally or globally. The technologies and programmes available also allow for small businesses to remain complaint with each software upgrade – automatically mitigating issues around data usage and privacy.
Most companies have realised endless benefits that the cloud brings. Instead of investing in costly on-site physical infrastructure, smaller companies can save time and money by investing in cloud computing for various applications, storage and backups.
This also provides them with the opportunity to upscale or reduce as their needs change, as well as updating, again without incurring large costs. Cloud-based services not only allow access to files and documents from any location, but they often also allow collaboration and better security, helping make satellite offices secure and reliable.
As new ideas continue to spring up – so will the cultivation of new small businesses by the entrepreneurs who create these innovations. Technology, as it continues to evolve, can only continue to provide support to those who fully embrace it.