Technology is the business leveller that enables South African small and medium businesses to become global organisations — but not if internet and communication technology services are over-complicated or beyond the reach of entrepreneurs.
To address what is currently a reality for many SMEs, Ignite – the ICT services provider focused on South African SMEs – has comprehensively refreshed its market offering.
Business owners can now set up and pay for affordable technology infrastructure – from Internet connectivity and email, to business applications and cloud services — almost instantaneously, via Ignite’s relaunched self-service website.
By introducing contractual flexibility, Ignite has made it much easier for SMEs to upgrade and scale their services or provision new technology requirements as their business demands.
“Entrepreneurs are spirited, determined, and innovative, and many require guidance from a technology partner to leverage technology as an enabler to accelerate their business growth,” says Tony Koutakis, Executive Head of Ignite. “Our response was to redesign our e-commerce platform through which our products are delivered to our clients and the market, so that no South African business is left behind as technology advances.”
Koutakis believes that by making connectivity, cloud, communications and security services easier to procure, install and manage, whatever the level of technical expertise in a business, SMEs are more likely to adopt technology to improve communication, productivity, and client service.
“We know that SMEs have very different characteristics and requirements compared to large corporates,” he says. “We have streamlined Ignite’s product offering in keeping with SMEs’ lean, often mobile, operations. We have also matched their quick-to-action ethos by offering contractual flexibility and qualified technical support at any time, from anywhere.”
A survey of South African small businesses earlier this year revealed a mismatch in how SMEs perceive the importance of technology in running their businesses, and how many actively implement digital tools that are in common use around the world.
For example, 87% of respondents agreed that technology is very important or essential to their operations, but more than half do not use mobile apps for business, while the majority underestimate the importance of cloud technology in their businesses.
Koutakis says that South Africa simply cannot afford for SMEs to be stifled because they lack the expertise or the budget for adequate technology services.
“The Banking Association of South Africa suggests that SMEs are a significant driver of employment, economic transformation and innovation. Putting technology in the hands of these businesses so they are sustainable and globally competitive is in our country’s best interest,” he says.