Are cutting edge technologies relevant to SMEs?
We all heard about latest tech buzz words like Cloud Computing, Robotics Process Automation (RPA), Digitalisation, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) etc. As we are speaking, all these new technologies are pushing the frontiers and sweeping over the world like a tsunami. News of major corporate adopting various technologies flooded the news media.
What relevance are all these to SME business owners? It’s always easier to sweep it under the carpet and say all these are expensive, difficult and meant for the big players.
Is that really so?
Let’s have a look at two of these technologies from the angle of an SME business owner.
1. Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing is simply a service where you can store your business data at a secured remote location and you send/retrieve data via the internet. You can see it as a shared storage.
Today, we still see many SMEs storing critical business data on small on-site servers, small external hard disks, laptops/computer storage etc. All these remote device storage do not facilitate data consistency (versions of data), protection against unauthorised amendments, resilience against cyber-attacks or provide proper backups.
Given all these technology risks, Cloud Computing might be something an SME should explore. It provides cheap storage (approximately 3 cents per gigabyte) in a secured data centre. Sounds really good?
Before jumping into Cloud Computing, we need to take a step back and evaluate key considerations like areas like internet connection reliability, need of data in situations where internet is not available, data privacy sharing server space with other unrelated enterprises etc.
Like all technology solution, the success is never about just deploying the tool. It’s about building processes, people, controls and governance around it to fully realise its benefits.
Cloud Computing certainly has its value to SMEs and worth exploring. However, a holistic approach would ensure the intended benefits are realised.
2. Robotics Process Automation (RPA)
When we think of robotics, we think of humanoids looking devices walking around (think of CP30 in Star Wars) or a mechanical arm on the factory assembly line.
RPA is neither of it.
RPA is a software enabled automation mimicking what a human would do and replicate it. As with most new technologies, you get a myriads of tech companies offering various aspects of RPA. Currently, there’s a limited number of providers for front-to-back (business front to back-office) RPA and cost is a top concern.
Does it mean it is too new and expensive that SMEs should ignore it?
Certainly not! RPA is only at its infancy phase. The potential is limitless as it can be applied to any industry any part of the corporate.
To not lose out to this potentially game changing technology, you can take an exploratory approach to understand the landscape and find suitable RPA software and implementation experts that fits your budget.
Over the next few years, we are likely to see fast growth in the various new technologies. Some of them might potentially permanently changing the business landscape. Hence, it is critical for SMEs to take steps (or even baby steps) and a positive attitude to explore these new technologies.