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Technology crucial to SMEs survival

BY: Charles Benoni Okine

TECHNOLOGY has helped many small organisations to grow into giants within their space. As technology evolves very there is, therefore, the need for small business owners to recognise its value and adapt. This is necessary because the ability to adapt to emerging technologies can drive a business to the next level.

Much as technology comes at a cost to the business, it all depends on whether as a business the owner prefers to treat technology as an expenditure or an investment. What is important is that before making a decision, SMEs must be able to appreciate the fact that markets are becoming more competitive and that adapting to technology to transform and stay relevant is no longer an option.

Here are just a few reasons why SMEs must adapt to emerging technologies to stay competitive, cut cost and improve their bottom-line.

Cybersecurity Tech

Hackers are all over and they target anybody once they notice an activity online. There are those who have deliberately positioned themselves to target smaller businesses and ‘eat’ them up in bits. Like the saying goes, little drops of water makes a mighty ocean. As a result, the hackers position themselves to hit the accounts of small business owners. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic for instance, there has been a significant increase in global cyber threats. With SMEs now seen as low hanging fruits, they have not been spared because the hackers know that cybercrime prevention is generally neglected within this sector.

Today, many businesses are selling their things or offering services online. They tap into any available website or download Apps they feel can be of help to them. Their payment systems are not protected neither are they frequently updated.

Remote working has become the order of the day and that is the more reason why there is a sharp increase in cyberattacks. Businesses that have not yet taken the necessary precautions have been vulnerable to these assaults from hackers.

This is why Cybersecurity strategy has become imperative to keep one’s business operational. Constantly, it should be at the back of the mind of every small business owner that upgrading systems just once is not enough.

Tech tools for network security, firewalls, anti-virus for applications and computers, data encryption, security monitoring, logging and alerting systems and system backups must be constantly considered.

For purposes of trust, SMEs must ensure that while protecting their systems, they are not reckless but ensure that security of customer information, intellectual property and any other information that’s critical for financial gain is well protected.

Automation

According to the World Bank's World Development Report 2019, the positive economic effects in terms of new industries and jobs available far outweigh the negative ones but automation-based technological unemployment still is a cause for concern.

Usually automation is employed to minimise labour or to substitute humans in the most menial or repetitive tasks. Automation is present in virtually all verticals and niches although it is more prevalent in manufacturing, utilities, transportation and security.

Business process automation is no longer only meant for medium and small enterprise-sized businesses. Today, SMEs readily adopt automated solutions to boost efficiency. One of the core reasons is that automation simplifies all aspects of a business by automatically accomplishing tasks that an employee would otherwise have to do manually.

From capturing business leads to closing sales, serving customers, running marketing campaigns, sending appointment reminders to checking other routine office tasks off the to-do, the list is endless where automation is helpful.

With automated processes, small business owners invest their time in business growth, cost-cutting and boosting employee productivity.

As earlier indicated, automating the business processes may come at a cost but it should rather be seen as an investment which returns can be seen and measured.

Online payments

Crime levels have increased on the internet, and therefore, with the availability of various online payment platforms, SMEs must not take that for granted. Many small businesses do not send and receive money through the internet for fear of losing their cash through the activities of hackers. But it must be noted that in every endeavour there are risks and with online payment platforms, there are some risks too. However , the benefits of online payments far outweigh the risks, particularly when the right things are done.

All SMEs need to do is to get the right payment gateways with secure features. There are those who are yet to introduce their customers to their payment platforms. This decision should not take another minute because it is very relevant in the scheme of things.

It is important for SMEs to appreciate the importance of adopting tech (online payment) to reduce the administrative burden on their business.

In short, online payments deliver a considerable uplift to a business’s profitability and growth by providing: better customer experience; cost reduction in transactions; record retention via cloud-hosted data; and ensures competitive advantage by making your business accessible to the outside world.

Conclusion

Adapting to technology should be seen as an investment, no matter how small. When used efficiently, technology can be one’s best bet to optimise available resources, grow and meet set targets.

If in doubt ask. This is the value SMEs can get from banks that are truly SMEs friendly. One of such banks is Access Bank which has positioned itself as a truly SMEs friendly bank, and its nationwide campaign to engage small businesses across the country is not only laudable but worthwhile.