A way for small businesses to get ahead in SA


The small business category in South Africa has escalated in terms of the number of businesses that have emerged over the past decade or so. Given the right guidance, tools and opportunities most of these businesses have become success stories.

A foreign example is which operates in 133 different countries, obtaining a customer base of 100,000, and only sits with 15 employees. The company uses a range of applications from Avaya that are aimed at driving efficiency, productivity and mobility and has found that its new and enhanced communications capabilities have allowed it to increase productivity and compete with bigger brands that benefit from a larger employees base.

Any CEO of any size business will tell you how critical communication is to their growth and survival in today’s market.  This technology has the potential to catapult small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) onto a global stage. As the world becomes more global, business is becoming less bound to location but increasingly reliant on communication. This opens up a wealth of opportunity for SMBs to compete with their larger counterparts, regardless of where they are based. The key to competing and surviving is having the right technologies in place to communicate quickly and efficiently.

When you consider that we have gone from a 15 second world to a 3 or 4 second world in the past couple of years, with customers wanting answers in minutes rather than days, you can see how this technology makes SMBs more contactable and responsive; more connected to colleagues and customers wherever they are. Even better, this technology does not require a huge upfront investment. Many SMBs invest in essentials and add new applications as the business grows.

The SMB market is increasingly driven by mobility and collaboration where employees need and expect to have access to all communications on one mobile device. Trends like bring your own device (BYOD), where employees bring their own smartphones into the office because they are intuitive and familiar, are having a big impact on this segment in particular. This is because not all small businesses have strict communications policies and guidelines in place but employees still want to be able to use the devices that allow them to be as productive as possible.

The challenge for the business is finding a flexible way of harnessing the power that these devices hold, satisfying the user demand but in a manageable and secure business capacity. This trend is gathering pace but SMBs can easily capitalise on it by implementing unified communications (UC) solutions, which include a comprehensive suite of intuitive, easy-to-use business communications tools for consumer-oriented mobile devices.

Before implementing any solution, businesses need to make sure they are aware of what devices their staff use and what implications the new solution will have on their network. Ideally, a mixed model is best for many small businesses as they can leverage the benefits of UC without falling into a potential trap of having to pay out for a whole new network to get there.

If the solution does not integrate, then SMB employees will likely give out their mobile numbers rather than the company’s business number.  That can cause obvious issues for the business down the road. Essentially the interoperability with popular devices is vital.

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Issue 72