South Africa’s Internet speeds are increasing at an encouraging rate, as fibre to the home and office spreads across the country.

By Laurica Kok, director: partner, accountants and alliances for Africa & Middle East at Sage

According to Akamai’s Q1 2017 State of the Internet report, South Africa has hit a new average broadband connection speed high of 6.7Mbps, a significant increase over the previous quarter.

Aside from enhanced user and customer experiences, and improved team collaboration, increased Internet speeds can benefit your accounting practice in a number of unexpected ways:

You can save time

A study by SanDisk found that businesses lose one working week per year for each employee due to slow computers and Internet connections.

Think of what you could do with an extra five days a year as a one-man accounting practice, or 250 extra working days for a 50-man firm. More time equals more productivity, more revenue and more profit.

You can effortlessly join the content marketing revolution

Every business needs a content strategy to effectively market themselves in the digital age. Visual content — especially videos — result in more sales conversions for brands. It’s expected that video content will represent 74% of all Internet traffic this year, while 76% of marketers who have used video marketing say it had a direct impact on their business.

Video consumes a lot of bandwidth but that won’t be a problem with fibre.

A short video explaining how to complete a personal income tax return can go a long way to securing new clients.

You can become more data-driven

Companies that use their data to inform business decisions are three times more likely to rate themselves above their competitors when it comes to financial performance. Forrester agrees.

Being able to store, sort, access and analyse your accounting data in real time requires a fast, reliable Internet connection. With fibre, that’s no longer a concern, which allows you to instantly update and share financial information, meet deadlines and exceed customer expectations.

You can seamlessly consume software as a service, in the cloud

As Internet access in South Africa becomes faster and more reliable, it makes sense for accounting firms to move their practices entirely into the cloud. Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to securely store and access your information off-site — which cuts your data management costs — consuming software as a service has unmatched business benefits.

These include:

* Having access to the most up to date and secure version of the software.

* Fewer wasted software licenses (and money) because you only pay for what you need and what you use.

* The ability to easily scale up or down as your business needs change.

* Automatic compliance because solutions like Sage payroll solutions are instantly updated with tax rate changes.

The amount of data that accounting firms need to sift through is increasing every day. Soon, it will no longer be viable to manage all this information on-premise. This is one of the reasons why Sage has focused its R&D spending on cloud solutions. In the not-too-distant future, running your accounting practice in the cloud will be business as usual.

You can future-proof your business

High-fibre Internet makes a lot of things easier. The most significant is increasing the chances of business success.

As we head deeper into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the lines between the physical and digital world become even more blurred, businesses will need to be able to process more data than ever before. More devices and sensors will connect to their networks, feeding more information into the business decision machine.

We don’t yet know what that future looks like for accounting firms but we do know that having the agility to quickly adapt your business model and culture to those changes, is what will put you head and shoulders above everyone else.

Even if you think your Internet connection is fast enough today, you can be sure you’ll need more and more speed in the future. Upgrading your Internet connection and moving your business into the cloud is a good place to start.