In hard times, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) need every tool at their disposal to save money while maintaining top service levels and efficiencies – and technology is a great way to achieve this.

Roman Hogh, head of technology & product strategy at MWeb Business says that many SMEs are unaware of how technology can be used to maximise resources and reduce costs.
"Technologies such as a Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) require little or no capital outlay, and yet can improve productivity dramatically," he says.
Hogh explains that a VPN gives a business all the benefits of private network, but without the prohibitive costs and without the responsibility of having to manage, maintain or upgrade it.
"In difficult economic times, companies can budget more effectively, knowing they don't have to provide for huge capital outlays for inter-company communication upgrades or maintenance.
"A VPN uses MWeb's national network to connect branches or offices in much the same way that one connects computers and printers to each other. It creates a secure, reliable and affordable way of reaching staff and accessing information.
"For larger companies, a Multiple Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) based VPN allows a business to converge existing disparate networks into a single infrastructure that can support data, voice and video services."
VPNs also give staff access to centralised services like an intranet, e-mail, Internet browsing, enterprise resource planning, and customer relationship and accounting systems. For a company with a head office, and several smaller offices around the country, a VPN is ideal as it prevents one having to install multiple servers around the country, and can use simple broadband technology to provide secure access to essential productivity solutions from wherever staff may be.
A VPN also allows companies to take advantage of VoIP products by bypassing the public telephone network and channelling inter-branch calls over a VPN, toll free.
"If your business already has broadband internet access or a leased line, then why not take advantage of the existing technology and maximise its use by operating a VoIP system to reduce call costs as well. MWeb Business has introduced MTalk Voice Services, a complete portfolio of voice services designed to offer business users significant savings, coupled with all the benefits and security of dealing with one provider," says Hogh.