Software as a services (Saas) is gaining momentum in South Africa, especially in the small and medium business sector where companies can now afford the same business systems previously only available to large organisations with big IT budgets. The cloud is here to stay and making a significant impact on the ability of smaller businesses to run their operations more effectively while achieving business objectives with affordable IT solutions.
The cloud is providing smaller businesses with the opportunity to automate many of their manual processes that often introduce risk in their operations. A recent EMC study indicates that 52% of South African companies experienced data lost. Saas provides smaller companies with the knowledge that their data is backed up automatically with most Saas providers providing redundancy, which increases data availability.
The cloud also supports the flexible operating models of smaller businesses, which often fluctuate in size and location. Companies have the opportunity to purchase only the user subscriptions their require versus the previous models of forced software and license bundling.
With Saas solutions, businesses can support their employees, whether they work at home, public spaces or fixed office locations. The cloud has made technology truly supportive of a mobile workforce, even if they work across time zones and geographical areas. The beauty of the cloud is that it cost the same for all the users irrespective of the working environment. This means improved cash flows for smaller businesses.
According to Microsoft, in association with IDC, the adoption of public cloud in South Africa is still fairly limited, at about 29%. “However, about the same proportion is planning – or is likely to do so – to start using it in the next 12 months or so. Interest in public cloud is especially high among SMEs. The key drivers for public cloud can be summarized as a desire to drive efficiency. Specifically, the ability to scale up or down, access to better technology and cost reduction through shared resources are the top three drivers for organizations looking to use public cloud.”
The cloud has made a significant impact on various business areas, including Human Resources. Today smaller business can use Saas to manage their employees or drive talent management strategies in support of their business operations. Saas has made Human Resources accessible for business that would previously not engage their employees in their development and performance. The cloud and mobility is seen as major powers shifting Human Resources towards higher levels of employee engagement. Employers can now engage employees through various devices and platforms whether it is PC, laptop, tablets or smartphones.
Gartner’s “Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future” (BYOD) report predicts that half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes by 2017. Smaller businesses will be at the forefront of this trend in allowing employees to use their own devices as this will drive down IT costs. BYOD supported by the use of cloud solutions will enable employees to access business solutions via the internet without the traditional constraints of local IT infrastructure. Employee can start working on multiple devices, anywhere, only requiring an Internet connection.
Cloud computing has significant impacts and benefits for smaller businesses in South Africa and worldwide. It is making IT affordable for all size organisations while allowing organisations to cater for a more mobile workforce with faster and continued IT innovation to support business operations.
Phil Lötter, CEO of Piilo Software