From the continued expansion of mobile applications and cloud-computing to the debilitating increase in cybercrime, SME owners have had to keep up with technological advances and development, especially if they are to remain competitive.
Here are 4 tech developments that made a grand showing in 2015 that you should keep an eye on in 2016.
- Take advantage of the growth of mobile
The number of global smartphone users, according to eMarketer, will surpass two billion this year.
The advancement of network technologies, lower mobile data usage costs, and a growing use of smartphones and an increase in application usability have contributed to the growth of mobile applications in South Africa.
This, says Sufyan Mkwanda, founder of SM Global Tech, an IT services company focused on the SME market, presents great opportunities for businesses that would like to leverage on the growth of smartphone adaptation and mobile app usage.
He said it is predicted that by 2017, there will be over 268 billion downloads and with revenue reaching 77 billion dollars.
“Businesses can look at this as an opportunity to broaden their target audiences, improve their marketing strategies, align their brand to adopt mobile are just a few of the many opportunities presented here.”
- Making cents of E-commerce
Three reasons e-commerce is beneficial for SMEs are that the barriers for entry are lower; it is cost-effective and requires no significant investments; and it offers your business the opportunity to scale, says Derek Engelbrecht, Consumer Products Leader for Africa at Ernst & Young.
E-commerce penetration in South Africa by global standards is still relatively low, says Efi Dahan, PayPal regional director of Africa and Israel, it is expected that the number of online shoppers to nearly triple in the near future.
Dahan told SME South Africa that in a study conducted on behalf of PayPal, it is shown that in 2014, 22% of South African internet users indicated that they made purchases online, and 48% said they will do so in the future.
See also: All your e-commerce questions answered
- Greater focus on protecting your business against cybercrime
In 2015, SMEs were warned against an increase in cybercrime and urged to drop the misconception that small companies are less of a target for cyber crimes because they hold ‘less value’ as a target.
It is vital for SMEs to protect themselves, says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET Southern Africa, a global provider of security software for enterprises and consumers.
She adds that businesses have faced an upsurge in tax identity fraud where criminals target the HR departments of various companies in order to file fraudulent tax returns.
Along with tax fraud another form of cybercrime that has been on a steep upward trend is fraud linked to mobile apps.
Malicious mobile apps in Google Play had spiked nearly 400%, according to a 2014 study by RiskIQ, an increase of 388% from 2011 to 2013.
With nearly 10 billion mobile devices on the planet today, MediaWeb’s Chad Fichardt says fraud has never been more profitable or ubiquitous.
He says, “A significant percentage of Apps and mobile services claiming to offer secure shopping portals or games or entertainment‚ are actually designed to steal credit card information‚ banking details and hard-earned cash.”
- Getting your biz in the Cloud
Cloud computing, according to Chris Willcocks, director of cloud and line of business at SAP Africa, provides a variety of computing resources, from servers and storage to enterprise software applications such as email, business and consumer applications all delivered over the Internet.
Willcocks says that the benefits of cloud computing includes shortening new product cycles and reducing the barriers to innovation by lowering the total cost of ownership and speeding up development with infrastructure and customer services.
Cloud-based platforms and solutions have emerged as among the smartest and most seamless ways for business owners to achieve the advances and efficiencies that their business strategies demand. This is according to Sacha Matulovich, sales and marketing director for Connection Telecom.
He says these platforms and solutions, among other advantages, offer businesses more control and are inherently future-proof because they are inherently agile, nimble, and constantly evolving.