Chris Welham
Chris Welham

2014 is the year for “transformation” to be more than just a buzz word, but an actionable tactic that leverages technology. Worldwide, SMEs are facing more and more pressure to transform their businesses. The reasons are, amongst others, a need to grow, become more competitive, adjust or change the way they do business or to better manage their supply chain. In addition, globalisation is a very real source of competition for SMEs, resulting in many seeking sources of revenue beyond their home country’s borders.

In a survey conducted by Oxford Economics in 2013 of SMEs across the globe, more than half (59%) of respondents see technology as a key differentiator for their firms, and as much as 57% cite technology as core to their business transformation efforts.

But who should drive this change? Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents say their CEOs view technology as critical to future success. However, when one looks at the results by region, CEOs of EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) companies are far less likely to drive these changes than CEOs of North American companies (34% vs 52%). On top of this, nearly half (47%) admit that they struggle to determine the best transformation strategy.

Technology has become more than just an essential tool to do business. It has become integral to virtually anything we do. For example, the correct use of technology in customer service can be the difference between being able to consistently delight one’s customer or not. For many businesses, all business transactions are in the digital world – consider ecommerce, software managed supply chains, ERP, electronic invoices and statements. South Africa’s very own SARS is a very good example of how technology can significantly improve a business.

People have adopted technology into their lives even more than in business. This will only accelerate, with some of the big ticket items at the recent Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2014) in Las Vegas being wearable technology (eg: Google Glass and Smart Watches), the integration of smart phones into cars and how the “Internet of Things” is fast changing into the “Internet of Everything”, as more and more of what we use are digitally enabled and available to monitor, measure and even control via the internet.

While some people bemoan the rapid rate of change and others argue that most technological innovations make our lives better, there can be little doubt that to survive in business, how IT and, in the broader sense technology, is leveraged will, in most cases, set apart the companies that grow from those that shrink.

In many companies IT is a significant expense item that is constantly being targeted. To survive the challenges of today’s business world, SMEs absolutely must bridge the gap between business and IT and work together to discover how technology can be leveraged to further business objectives and goals. This will only be possible, though, if understood and led by the senior business leaders, including the CEO.

Affordable and credible frameworks to help those SMEs that want to embark on a digital transformation are almost non-existent, posing a very real challenge for these forward-thinking business leaders. This is very likely to change, possibly even within this year, as early adopters look for solutions and the leading service providers seek to respond to this new need.

About Space Age Technologies

Space Age Technologies is an IT services and platform integration specialist and Microsoft Partner. The company specialises in the small and medium business, continually seeking ways to help these companies balance their need to reduce their non-value adding IT costs with finding IT solutions that will help grow their business. Forward-thinking and solutions oriented, Space Age Technologies is ideally poised to realise their vision of achieving Relevant IT for their customers – ensuring IT becomes a true value add to the business.