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Research by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) found that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who have invested in digital technologies showed more growth than those that did not. In addition, further studies found that technology improved management, information delivery, collaboration and SME agility. Globally the SME is considered key to igniting economic growth and transformation. In South Africa, the role of the SME has never been more crucial.

“A rich online presence provides the SME with the tools to connect, collaborate and engage with customers across multiple platforms and broader markets,” says company head of online hosting company 1.grid.com, Thomas Vollrath. “For those who exist solely in the physical space, an online presence is key to unlocking customer engagement and fresh opportunity.”

SMEs face unique challenges with speed to market, building a brand from local to global, customer responsiveness and economic uncertainty. These are further impacted by digital transformation and disruption as businesses rapidly move from the physical to the digital space.

“The SME needs to reinvent and redefine,” says Vollrath. “In the retail sector in South Africa there is already a significant shift from physical stores to online warehouses that deliver on the customer demands of convenience and accessibility. This level of disruption is not exclusive to retail and is set to impact all sectors, business sizes and markets.”

A digital presence is critical to brand building and customer engagement and without it, the SME runs the risk of losing market share and customers. “With the right online hosting partner, the SME can open up new revenue streams, develop collaborative tools, and build an online value chain that is beautifully positioned to meet the future marketplace,” says Vollrath.

Getting your business online has become significantly easier; “Ultimately an online presence shouldn’t be an afterthought, it is an inherent part of any business strategy. Companies that digitise will disrupt the status quo and redefine the future,” says Vollrath.

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