Cloud services are critical for SMEs in the current environment, but they require experienced advisory and a comprehensive offering, writes George Thabit Ayad Thomas, Senior Solutions Manager of HUAWEI CLOUD Africa Region.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown has effectively demobilised the global economy – and it’s no different here in South Africa.
Production has plunged and unemployment is at critical levels. National GDP is set to shrink across the globe, with the associated multiplier impacts on small business.
Even as we ease into the reopening stage of the crisis, the question remains, what kind of an economy will we be returning to? Many business processes will be forever changed, and several conventions of the lockdown will now be part of the much-vaunted “new normal”.
Digital supply-chain solutions
Small businesses need to take stock and decide how to relaunch in the most effective, efficient ways possible, at a time when social distancing is still mandatory, supply chains remain disrupted and demand is unpredictable.
Due to their size and lack of resources, SMEs are vulnerable. Yet, in Africa, SMEs are important drivers of economic growth, accounting for up to 90% of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.
To mitigate supply-chain shocks, digital commerce platforms, digital analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are invaluable, allowing businesses to scale cost-effectively into new markets.
Digital platforms can also aggregate demand across the continent, and give SMEs access to new markets. These platforms also allow business to diversify and strengthen their supply chains.
The growth of digital technology in areas like trade logistics, automated processing, and e-payments also streamlines business processes, while fintech start-ups across Africa now also allow SMEs to access financing options previously unavailable to them.
Diversifying and strengthening supply chains is crucial for SMEs to survive and flourish. The IMF predicts that by 2035, Africa will have added more working-age people to our workforce than the rest of the world combined. It’s critical that small businesses grow to absorb the challenges and opportunities of this vast labour pool. Luckily, Cloud enables this.
Cloud as the foundation
The Cloud is likely to form the backbone of IT infrastructure going forward, offering affordable, powerful, easy-to-use platforms that allow businesses of all sizes to grow in a stable, secure environment.
The new ways of work carry several implications for small businesses. Working from home, for instance, requires the right collaboration tools. New IT infrastructure demands different management systems.
Luckily, Cloud not only replaces the services of on-site IT, it enhances them. Cloud can also enable complete business continuity plans during a transition to Cloud, which can be managed and operated remotely. Ironically, the lockdown period offers the ideal time to make this transition.
As various industries move online, their data requirements become more complex – often this can only be delivered through Cloud services. E-learning, for instance, requires live streaming and video compression that must be deliverable on low bandwidth, and which is flexible, scalable and cost effective.
Cost challenges and opportunities
For SMEs, issues of cash management are paramount right now, but as the crisis disrupts established industry structures, they must also be agile enough to upscale when required.
Where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. In the digital content space, increased demand can mean significant traffic increases.
Service providers of all kinds, and commerce players in particular, need technology solutions to provide better logistics management, flexible payment, enhanced security tools, and a better shopping experience.
For all of these opportunities, businesses will require enterprise intelligence services such as Containers, AI, Big Data analytics, bots and much more. These services must be hosted locally to address security and data sovereignty concerns. Cloud is the inevitable solution.
For security needs, large enterprises have learnt to embrace multi-Cloud strategies. Others are taking a hybrid approach, combining the use of both public and private clouds.
For those already adopting cloud services, we see increased cloud consumption as a result of the extra capacity needed for remote work and online services. Other organisations may accelerate migration from data centres to Cloud in response to reduced headcount, difficulties in accessing data centre facilities and delays in hardware supply chains.
In the post-pandemic era, organisations are already moving sensitive data to the Cloud. It is a journey that sometimes sees corporate financial data kept on-premises, and IoT, non-sensitive data for analysis built on Cloud or SaaS models.
The adoption of public Clouds continues to grow dramatically across every industry vertical to address capacity concerns, and the COVID-19 outbreak will drive Cloud consumption even higher.
The right Cloud partner
Cloud-readiness assessments and application dependencies are challenges, but by choosing a Cloud partner with the skills, experience and tools to assist with the migration, this challenge can be overcome.
HUAWEI CLOUD now combines 30+ years of accumulated technology, innovation, and expertise in ICT infrastructure to offer customers everything as a service.
Through our fast-growing local and global Cloud data centres, our global clients are using our affordable, powerful, easy-to-use platform to grow their enterprise in a stable, secure, ever-improving environment with inclusive AI.
In Africa, we’ve already launched solutions that cater for the current pandemic for different scenarios, all hosted in our local data centres, supported by our local experts and global support…
Our solutions include:
• Full stack SAP certified platform for SAP B1 and S4Hana workloads
• Cloud SAP Systems that allow customers to run entire development, test, and production systems on the public cloud
• On/off cloud collaboration, on-demand use and auto scaling
• Cost-effective 3CX VC solutions for enterprises running on low bandwidth and multiple devices
• Website Live Chat & Talk, with unlimited Users
• Free, unlimited extensions
• Cloud deployment in minutes
• Unified management
• Savings of up to 80% per year
• CRM Integration
By the end of 2019, HUAWEI CLOUD had launched 200+ cloud services and 190+ solutions. News agencies, social media platforms, law enforcement, automobile manufacturers, gene sequencing organisations, financial institutions, and a long list of other industry customers are all benefiting in significant ways from HUAWEI CLOUD.
Already, more than 3 500 applications have been added to the HUAWEI CLOUD marketplace, with offerings from more than 10 000 business partners.
Whether you are at the beginning of your journey to the Cloud, or have already adopted Cloud services, get in touch with us today, to discuss our Cloud & AI solutions. No matter your industry, we can help you deploy Cloud to transform your business.