SME technology in 2020: A path to efficiencyFeb 14th, 2020
By Aaron Thornton, Managing Director, Dial a Nerd
The technology-savvy small to medium enterprise (SME) is far more likely to invest into the fundamentals of technology than into the trendy ones that are making the news.
While artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are considered the hot tickets to stay ahead in 2020, the SME should be smart, not stylish.
Getting the right technology mix is a deliberate and steady process not a fast and furious grab of the latest tech and innovation.
So, what should you be doing to ensure efficiency in technology and investment for the year ahead?
You should embrace fully managed cloud solutions
A wholesale shift to completely managed and cloud-based IT solutions should be on every SME agenda. Many small businesses are completely cloud based today and it supercharges their agility and ability to pivot and enter new markets.
Their workforce is mobile and often part of the gig economy while their technology infrastructure is sitting in a cloud that doesn’t guzzle power, money and time. It’s the next step in the organisation evolution and could very well herald the end of the office cubicle forever.
Well, maybe only the forward-thinking SME for now.
Using the flexibility of collaborative office spaces like FutureSpace and WeWork and the agility of cloud, SMEs can completely bypass weight of traditional office setups to cut costs, ignite growth and expand into new markets.
The adoption of cloud and subsets such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has opened up a digital universe of applications and solutions that you can enjoy on demand.
If you look at what’s possible within the Microsoft Office 365 platform, the majority of applications needed by the small business are available in an accessible and secure space.
These applications come with a single sign-on functionality that means that one login grants the user access to everything they need to do their jobs while business critical information is locked within the tightly cemented doorways of Microsoft’s platform.
Even more importantly, once the SME is operating within this environment, they gain access to incredible business intelligence and analytics benefits that would previously have been prohibitively expensive.
This is because the multiple aspects of their operation are now running in a single space that’s purpose-built. Simply put – your business data is easily and automatically collated and made available to you so that you can make improved business decisions that will drive operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
You should always be on high alert
Cybersecurity is absolutely critical. Yes, even you, the SME, is under threat. Shadow IT risks, malware, ransomware, phishing, employee error – these threats are set to increase in 2020 because cybercrime is very profitable. It doesn’t matter that you’re small or your employees scattered around the globe, what matters is that you are a valuable resource to a hacker.
The cybercrime community has evolved alongside security solutions and business models. Malware-as-a-Service is a very real thing which makes the market for cybercrime accessible and profitable.
You can pay for a subscription to a malicious software provider, get a unique key that identifies you as the reseller, and then you make money on every system you infiltrate and infect.
You have to be on high alert and provide frequent cyber awareness training to your employees. They can be the weakest link just because they don’t know how to identify a phishing email or to not click on an attachment.
This training should involve regular testing to see where the weak spots in your company lie so you can remove the vulnerabilities and lock down your security.
You should pay attention to 5G
Technology experts and telecoms companies are excited about 5G because this is the latest iteration of wireless data standards and it promises to be about ten times faster than existing 4G networks.
It could herald the dawn of ultra-fast computing for your cloud-first, mobile business. Not only is 5G faster than your bog-standard 4G, but it’s also more reliable.
In 2019, 5G networks started to set themselves up around the world. They were expensive and limited to specific areas, but they did start the revolution.
In 2020, it’s likely that the hype around 5G will see the technology really take off. In South Africa, the data-only network provider, Rain, looks set to be the local trailblazer.
The company announced towards the end of 2019 that selected existing customers had been invited to use the new ultra-fast network with unlimited internet access for only R1,000 a month.
Rain’s chief marketing office said that the company had managed speeds of 700Mbps during testing (although you’d likely only get around 200Mbps).
The world is hurtling towards super-fast mobile internet and your business could see enormous benefits as a result.
You should invest into local to get more value
South African innovation isn’t being put off by low hanging fog of economic instability so use it to save money, invest in local and get solutions that are relevant to this market.
CloudGate X is a locally developed, eco-friendly computer that uses less than five percent of the electricity used by a traditional desktop.
Not only does this lessen the energy footprint of your business, which is nice, it also saves money and can be used in rural areas or when you’re stuck using a generator.
The computer costs between R3,500 and R5,200 dependent on specifications and can be used in multiple industries and environments.
It’s got connectivity so you can nab that ultra-fast 5G without any issues, and it can extend its storage capacity up to 320GB so you’ve always got space on the move.
The local is lekker machine can run business critical apps like Pastel and SalesForce on an operating system powered by either Microsoft or Linux, and it’s small.
For the ultra-security conscious it can fit into a safe the size of a shoebox, or into a shoebox if you want to really confuse people.
Small, safe, swift and South Africa, this is a nifty computer that’s been designed specifically for the local business.
About Dial a Nerd
Colin Thornton founded Dial a Nerd in 1998 as a consumer IT support company and in 2002 the business-focused division was founded.
Supporting SME’s, home users and School are the prime focus. In 2017, Dial a Nerd, merged with Turrito Networks who provide niche Internet Services outside of the local network.
Colin has subsequently become the Managing Director of Turrito, and his brother Aaron who has been a shareholder since 2000, is the Managing Director of Dial a Nerd
Having cut his teeth in the working world as a waiter in the service industry from the age of 16, Aaron’s skill set lies in building and maintaining relationships with clients, suppliers and employees alike.
In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit of Dial a Nerd, Aaron has managed branches, handled HR, procurement, and sales and all the other things that come with running a company.
In the last 24 months, Dial a Nerd has migrated through some major changes, which involved joining offices with Turrito Networks in 2015 and finally concluding the merger of the businesses in 2017.