With technology innovation taking place at a more rapid rate than before, companies have access to new ways of doing things. And with the willingness to embrace change a priority amongst local decision-makers, these are exciting times for the market.

By James van den Berg, technology solutions professional: apps and infrastructure at Altron Karabina

In the digital world, applications are cloud-based. This not only changes the way people access and use them, but also pricing models. For example, instead of going out and purchasing software or getting a certain number of licenses for a year, an organisation can easily add monthly subscriptions on a per user basis.

This means there is no big capital outlay required as per the traditional approach of software acquisition. Decision-makers now have more flexibility in the systems they are using and can adapt to changing market conditions more rapidly.

Furthermore, the arrival of the two Microsoft Azure data centres in the country last year, mean the data sovereignty concerns have been addressed from a regulatory perspective. This will enable government to look at cloud more seriously and examine to what extent they can embrace it to deliver e-citizen services. Given how the president advocated for a smart city last year, the cloud provides the vital building blocks in accomplishing this.

Tech for all

Fortunately, small businesses can also significantly benefit from the local data centres. With Office 365 now available in the country, SMEs can start using it in increasingly innovative ways to optimise their operations. Also, these smaller companies can now benefit from enterprise-grade technology at a fraction of the cost than what it was available just a few years ago.

An example is how enterprise resource planning in the cloud is more affordable to SMEs. Even licensing agreements that were not possible in on-premise environments can now be developed for smaller companies to start benefiting from a digital-first environment. This has resulted in the democratisation of technology and will only accelerate as more companies start using it.

Bring on the power

The cloud has also made innovations in cognitive service more widely accessible. Things such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA) are giving companies more sophisticated tools to drive decision-making.

Just consider the potential of natural language processing using AI. Audio recordings can now more easily track who is saying what and incorporate meta tags in conversations. This gets inputted into the data warehouse that analyses customer sentiment and can help guide call centre agents on the appropriate responses.

We are only scratching the surface with these and other AI-driven solutions. There is so much potential in the market given how much data is available and the cost-effectiveness of using these high-performance computing solutions in the cloud.

Agile everywhere

All told, the technology available today in application software means companies can become nimbler. They can shift demand as market conditions change and be smarter in how they leverage the applications at their disposal.

Not only can this be done at lower cost, but they are able to experiment more effectively and take bigger risks. If something does not work, they can simply move on to the next thing. In an economy driven by cost-savings, more affordable (and sophisticated) solutions can transform everything from cyber security to disaster recovery.

With so much growth opportunities available to business across industry sectors, the cloud and the application software environment will contribute to help transform the economy of the country for the better.