Technology will be a critical success factor in the new digital future: as businesses strive to do more with less; introduce new services faster; and improve their profitability and operational efficiency.
It is an exciting time for small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), thanks to technology, which has levelled the playing field for small business owners. SMEs are at a critical point of change and growth, and opportunities are abundant – but only for those that are able to scale up and capture the untapped market potential.
While some SMEs are recognizing just how technology is critical to their continued success, many of them face similar challenges as they try to ride this digital wave.
They think about whether the technology will be relevant in a month or a year; will my staff be able to install, operate and manage it; what is the return on investment; and will it keep my data and my customers’ data secure?
Get it wrong and the SME can pay in time, effort, resources, downtime, and reputation. Do nothing and the business risk being left behind.
They also recognize how technology can transform their business. Some businesses want to improve workforce innovation and productivity; promote collaboration among employees, partners and customers.
Some businesses want to enhance the digital experience for customers and partners to grow their business. As today’s digital natives are increasingly demanding: they are expecting a seamless customer experience between physical and digital touchpoints.
There is also the component of security. The currency of the digital era is trust. Without it – no business will survive. Businesses, whatever the size, would need to look at security as a must-have. In today’s hyper-connected world, breaches could translate to loss of money, time and customers.
According to Cisco’s latest Annual Cybersecurity Report, online attacks resulted in real losses, where 22% of organisations surveyed said they lost customers, 29% lost revenue and 23% lost business opportunities1.
Technology must be SIMPLE, SECURE and SMART
So what will businesses need to do to future proof themselves?
First and foremost, businesses must ensure the technology is secure by protecting it all the way from the core business right through to the endpoints.
For SMEs, technology should also be simple - easy to set-up, manage and monitor for any size business and tailored for any type of business structure. This will remove operational complexity and ultimately, save time, effort and resources at multiple levels.
The technology should also be smart – which means that smart systems put the brains inside software, so that hardware can be managed, upgraded and adapted to changing business needs.
Cisco START technology for SMEs
Understanding the unique digitisation needs of SMEs, we created Cisco START – a portfolio of solutions that can kick start an SME’s digitisation journey with a kit of complementary hardware and software including enterprise class networking, compute, collaboration, and security solutions that are right-priced for their business.
The digitisation journey starts with enterprise-class network, switches and routers, wireless access points and Meraki cloud-managed solutions that will connect everything and everyone.
Applications can be delivered by Unified Computing Systems with rack servers that can mix compute, networks, and storage with management and virtualisation for speed, simplicity and scalability.
There is also collaboration technology, which will bring customers, partners and employees together in the moment wherever they are, be it via a smartphone, laptop on the desk or even room systems, with rich video and collaboration capabilities.
All of these technologies are protected through security-first technology for the network and to protect you from all manner of threats.
Having a complementary suite of solutions that can be managed without a dedicated resource and tailored to changing business needs has the potential to transform SMEs and support growth.
There’s never been a better time to start the digitisation journey
SMEs have a huge impact on Singapore’s economy seeing as they account for 99 per cent of all enterprises, employ almost 70 per cent of the workforce and contribute to about 50 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).2
Needless to say, SMEs have a big role to play in Singapore’s future growth potential and technology will be a game changer. Minister Heng Swee Keat said during the Budget Announcement that: “Digital technology has unique potential to transform businesses, large and small, across the economy. The first way to strengthen our enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, is to help them adopt digital solutions.”3
To simplify the decision-making process for SMEs when choosing the technology they need, Cisco partners with a strong local network of resellers and distributors that are there to support SMEs’ digital business-model transformation.
As SMEs transition into the digital domain, their revenue growth and profitability depend on their ICT infrastructure. There is a strong push for innovation and digitisation among local businesses and there are abundant opportunities for SMEs to take a step forward in transforming their business, so what better time than now to start the digitisation journey?
1 Cisco’s Annual Cybersecurity Report
2 Spring Singapore, Singapore Department of Statistics (singstat.gov.sg)
3 Channel NewsAsia http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/budget-2017-more-help-for-smes-to-godigital-with-focus-on-data/3534088.html
- Kartika Prihadi, Director of Commercial Sales, Cisco Systems for the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region -