Business technology has always been the domain of big business. Think, big Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Point Of Sale systems (POS).
This has been the case due to (1) investment, (2) infrastructure and (3)skills requirements:
- Investment requirements: The cost of acquiring has always been high and unaffordable for small businesses.
- Infrastructure requirements: Using technology in a business often includes acquiring more infrastructure, that is not always easy for small businesses. A simple website would require a business to invest in server infrastructure which tends to costs a fortune.
- Skills requirements: Adopting technology within a business often goes hand in hand with recruiting skilled personnel to manage the newly acquired technology. The cost of hiring skilled and experienced technology people is impossible for small businesses.
In recent years, this has been changing due to advances in technology that are making it easier for even small businesses to access technology that has been the preserve of big businesses.
There are mainly 2 game changers that are making it easier for small businesses to use high end technology without spending too much. They are (a) Mobile technology and (b) Cloud Computing.
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY – Mobile technology is exactly what the name indicates – technology that is portable; it refers to any device that you can carry with you to perform a wide variety of “tasks”. It is technology that allows those tasks to be performed via cellular phone, tablets, vehicles, watches, etc. A standard mobile device has gone from being no more than a simple two-way pager to being a cellular phone, a GPS navigation system, a web browser, and instant messenger system, a financial management system, and much more. It includes the use of a variety of transmission media such as: radio wave, microwave, infra-red, GPS and Bluetooth to allow for the transfer of data via voice, text, video, 2-dimensional barcodes and more.
A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group showed that – Mobile technologies are emerging as a growth engine for small and medium enterprises (SME), with the top 25% of adopters seeing two times revenue growth and up to eight times the number of jobs created.
CLOUD COMPUTING – is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services),which can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and small busiessesbusinesses with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers. It relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economy of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network.
These two technology advancements, mobile and cloud computing, combined are enabling small businesses to access the best technology economically.
It is now possible for an entrepreneur selling coffee to have the same technology used by a multinational coffee company.
A great example of this development is seen in the startup eco-system. One such startup is Yoco – a technology company that has designed a Point Of Sale Device which requires a mobile device to enable payments. The technology allows a small business to accept payments using technology enjoy the benefits of cloud computing and not carry the burden that comes with adopting a technology infrastructure.
Yoco is harnessing the power of the cloud to offer valuable business intelligence for free, out of the box. Business owners have access to a free business intelligence dashboard, the Yoco Business Portal, which gives merchants access to extensive business intelligence, in real time, from their transactional data. They can analyse key trading times, staff sales performance and other key information, which they can use to run their business more efficiently and strategically. This data is then easily exportable to most bookkeeping software, with some live integrations on the way to accounting packages like Xero.
Currently, South African small businesses in the coffee, fashion, beauty and other industries are able to access the best technology that allows them to accept payments through Yoco.
ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY FEATURE
The Small Business Tech feature on IDEATE will be highlighting various technology solutions that can be used by entrepreneurs to advance small businesses.
Small Business Technology features will be followed by a series of workshops that will present various technology solutions for the Small Business sector.
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