The success of small businesses and start-ups is certain to boost the economy. This is because 90 percent of all businesses in the Middle East (MEA) fall under the small-to-medium-sized (SMB), which highlights the economic importance and importance of these entrepreneurial enterprises.
The pandemic taught us that resilience is key to business continuity in changing market conditions. Many SMBs are operating with smaller budgets. Digital transformation provides the foundation for resilience. This allows businesses to streamline operations, evolve to better meet their current needs, and develop the agility that will allow them to quickly pivot in response to future changes.
SMBs need to embrace new technology, as well as speed up their adoption. It goes further: businesses should be able to grow and build upon their own digital capabilities as part of transformation. In this new normal environment, innovation is the currency that will differentiate businesses. It is important to foster an entrepreneurial environment that encourages innovation.
SMBs need to adopt cloud computing as a first step in achieving resilience in their digital transformation journey. In the long-term, cloud business is the best way to future-proof operations in a global digital economy. The latest technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things(IoT), will drive this economy. According to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, cloud computing is an integral part of new IT-driven business developments that will drive new solutions to existing issues.
It is clear that the cloud is essential for enabling a new way of doing business. Recent surveys have shown this. Microsoft released the Future of Business Resilience Report in 2020. It notes that cloud computing results in a 20-30 percent increase in workforce productivity and a 40-50 percent faster time to market, among other benefits.
The report also shows that investing in such tech preemptively rather than reactively (as was the case with many SMBs during pandemic) can yield 50 percent more returns and accelerate digital transformation by 14 per cent. Now is the time for proactive solutions to build sustainable businesses of tomorrow, as economies have moved beyond the initial response phase to the market changes caused by the pandemic.
SMBs who embrace cloud migration will reap the many benefits: higher productivity, faster time to market and a greater return on investment. Cloud tech’s strength lies in the removal of potential barriers to setting up and growing a SMB. These barriers include high costs of IT infrastructure, new technology access, and the difficulty and cost of diversifying business to reach larger audiences.
A Deloitte survey found that 93 percent of the surveyed companies worldwide relied on the cloud for their AI needs. This is just one example how the cloud facilitates innovation. It makes it possible to access new technologies, which will allow businesses to diversify, and makes them more likely to adopt new solutions. The cloud allows for faster market entry, which creates an environment that encourages innovative thinking without the constraints of failed tests weighing down business productivity.
An SMB’s limited resources are put under pressure by fluctuating market demand. The cloud’s cost-saving features allow small businesses to scale up and down quickly, allowing them to be agile. Cloud-based operations eliminate the need for large investments in IT infrastructure on site, as well as the need to hire IT professionals to manage these new IT requirements. This makes it easier to start up and grow your business, with budgets being redirected to other areas. 70% of the surveyed SMBs said they were able reinvest savings from cloud migration back into their business. 82 percent reported lower business costs after their migration.
A SMB that has migrated into the cloud can avoid the need to spend on system upgrades to make sure security systems are up-to-date. Continuous updates provide security and backup options that give you peace of mind. Columbus Global notes that data recovery from the cloud is faster than an on-premises system, which means less downtime for businesses.
The Flexera 2020 State Report on the Cloud reveals that SMBs will spend far less on cloud than larger enterprises because they have fewer cloud workloads. SMBs are well-positioned for smoother transitions, which is why cloud spending has grown in recent years.
Cloud-based technology is crucial in enabling inclusive economic recover. Small and medium businesses will be able innovate much faster, more securely, and at a lower price. This is the environment that SMBs and new start ups need to thrive if we are to help our economies recover from the aftermath of the pandemic.
Ola Williams is the Microsoft Country Manager for Nigeria