Mohammed Areff, Vice President, Avaya MEA & Turkey, presents sound advice for mid-sized businesses looking to spruce up their digital strategies…
In the UAE, the SME sector represents more than 94 per cent of the total number of companies operating in the country where 350,000 companies fall under this category and sector. Unlike large enterprises or small business outfits, mid-market firms have graduated from the struggles of startup-hood and yet to be weighed down by the gravity that afflicts bigger companies, enjoying explosive growth with challenges unique to the segment.
New technologies are powerful drivers of middle market empowerment with mid-market leaders no longer satisfied with solutions that are scaled down versions of larger systems. The SME sector today is on a transformation journey from a traditional on-premise IT infrastructure to one that includes cloud-based software, infrastructure, and app development in a fully hosted or hybrid cloud model. Mid-market customers are looking to have enterprise-grade solutions that provide the right kind of mobility and agility they need.
By embracing digital transformation, these businesses are able to compete with larger competitors as they grow and prosper. Business leaders are looking at modern computing architecture to determine how it can support the goal of transforming the business model and create continuity across the user experience. Avaya offers a comprehensive mid-market solution which presents SMEs with capabilities and features that gives the business a competitive edge with larger enterprises, which was otherwise not available with a smaller pool of resources. Since these enterprises are not encumbered by legacy systems and processes, there lies the opportunity of having faster innovation cycles.
The government is equally supportive of the growth of this sector and actively encourages innovation and enables productivity. The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, recently said at an SME focused event, that SMEs are a key driver of the UAE economy where they presently contribute 60 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product which is projected to strengthen its contribution to 70 per cent within the next six years in line with the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021.
While government initiatives remain to be an incentive, with costs remaining to be a key concern, investments by the mid-market remain cautious. Not ready to invest in new employees, servers, appliances, and networks for many years have left many seeking outside solutions to help them catch up. Many mid-market managers are increasing relying on enhanced support and outsourced solutions that enable adoption and support for new technologies without bearing the costs associated with technology, heavy staff training or staff resource redeployment.
As they journey towards the end of 2015 and the beginning of a new year, Avaya outlines three considerations for the mid-market when evaluating technology that can support them:
- Agility and Scalability
Unlike large enterprises, mid-market firms face greater pressures from limited resources. It is not an unfamiliar situation where the IT department is made up of a small team or in some instances, manned by a single executive. Mid-market organisations are also generally more nimble than their enterprise counterparts, and therefore expect their suppliers to be faster to deliver too. With higher opportunity costs from loss of time, mid-market firms need solutions that can be up and running in hours, and not days. In addition, one-size-fits-all solutions that are narrowed down will not necessarily meet future needs of a mid-market company. For too long, mid-market solutions were just limited solutions intended for larger enterprises. Flexible to growth, the solution needs to be able to ‘right-size’ to your organisation’s needs. That means the solution shouldn’t force you to overbuy now, but instead allow you to easily expand as circumstances require. Instead of being forced into a forklift upgrade — swapping out hardware, adding software and re-negotiating your maintenance agreements — look for a solution that protects your original investments. It should also allow easy integration with existing applications and platforms.
- Enable and manage non-stop productivity, from anywhere, on any device
With limited resources mid-market also needs this non-stop productivity to be easily managed. They need to look for solutions that can be centrally managed with intuitive and easy to use web-based administration. There’s also a need to bear in mind that employees today are consumers as well, so technology they use needs to be intuitive and easy to use. Solutions that have the right application for the function, vertical and market place are critical to communications and collaboration. Integrated solutions with a complete set of voice, data, and video capabilities can result in greater positive impact on the bottom line and help with productivity.
- Robust infrastructure to support communications and collaboration needs
An Avaya Network Agility survey found that over 90 per cent of businesses lost annual revenue as a result of downtime from network change errors. Given the pressures the mid-market companies face, they need to ensure that the lights are constantly kept on – and they are able to sell to maintain and grow bottom lines. The mid-market also need a robust network infrastructure that is simple to operate, cost effective and easy to set up.
The expanding economy and advancing technology have created unimaginable opportunities, but with that comes considerable risks. From communications and collaboration solutions, a robust network infrastructure to customised support from a valued partner, these are key solution attributes and considerations the mid-market must take to empower employees and enhance their competitive edge.
This should be a wake-up call for companies that have not yet invested the time or resources into digital transformation and building out their mobile customer experience. How mid-market companies manage investing in IT now will have profound effects in 2016 and beyond.
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Rushika Bhatia Editor
Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.