Ask any SME owner about challenges facing their business, and you might be surprised to find “not enough time to do everything” very high up on their list. With time being such a valuable commodity, more and more SMEs are turning to IT and software solutions to save time and, in effect, create more time for their enterprises.
And, just as IT is therefore usually high on the list of priority investments for the standard SME office, so too should be a form of power surge and protective equipment, designed to specifically safeguard their means of time creation.
So says Evershree Mathadeen, distribution channel manager, MGE Office Protection Systems. “There is nothing more potentially disabling for a SME than a power cut or power surge. Both have a hugely negative impact on productivity and service – and this is before we even start talking about the effect on their IT infrastructure.”
Mathadeen goes on to explain that while the phrase “time is money” is relevant for all forms of businesses, companies usually affected the most by electricity blackouts are SMEs – as they can least afford this down-time.
“Your average SME doesn’t have the ‘spare’ capital to invest in a generator just in case there’s a power cut sometime in the future. It’s not an investment priority or something they can usually initially afford. Unfortunately though, as we’ve seen in areas of Johannesburg and Cape Town over the past two years, extended power outages have become more common.
"The potential impact on SMEs can be entire days of business lost, and client relationships negatively impacted upon – everything from missing data to products going undelivered.”
Protecting IT infrastructure and data has thus never been more of a priority.
While power cuts bring with them their own list of side-effects, Mathadeen explains that a power surge can have equally devastating effects on a SME’s infrastructure.
“A power surge has the potential to irreparably damage a company’s IT network – everything from its desktops to connections to its servers can be affected. This makes it impossible to use the machines for work, and impacts seriously on data retrieval. Needless to say the knock-on implications of this can extend well into the long-term.”
The good news for SMEs then is that just as IT infrastructure and solutions have become more and more sophisticated and correspondingly affordable, so too have the range of protection solutions specifically designed to assist smaller enterprises.
“SMEs now have access to the same protection technology that was previously the sole domain of larger corporates. This means they can not only protect their IT infrastructure but also, through the purchase of a UPS, ensure that their business equipment can continue functioning even during a blackout.”
Mathadeen explains that suppliers and developers of uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes) such as MGE Office Protection Systems are taking an even greater interest in smaller enterprises because of their huge market potential – and adapting solutions accordingly.
“What we’re finding increasingly in this space is that SMEs are able to pick and choose from a complete range of solutions, depending on their company’s needs. If we look at the UPS market alone for example, we’re seeing products that give just enough time to ‘save’ and ‘shut down’ computers when there’s a power cut, as well as those that allow a number of computers to continue working for a set period of time. Products are also far more competitively priced and affordable. Investment in a generator has thus been upstaged by these more appropriate solutions.”
With power supply uncertainty continuing to plague South Africa well into the foreseeable future, SME owners can take solace in the fact that there are protection solutions out there just as innovative as they are. They would thus do well to ensure a suitable portion of the capital they set aside for IT infrastructure is reserved for protecting it. In this way they will ensure the bright future of their business – with or without electricity