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Cloud technology fosters agility, growth for small enterprises

OPINION
By Kendi Ntwiga | October 3rd 2021

There is no doubt that economic recovery will be buoyed by the success of our start-ups and small businesses.

This is because in Kenya, estimates suggest that between 80 and 98 per cent of all businesses fall into the small- to medium-sized (SME) category, highlighting the economic importance of these enterprises.

During the pandemic, we learnt that building resilience ensures business continuity in ever-changing market conditions – in which many SMEs are operating on tighter budgets. The required resilience is rooted in digital transformation. It allows businesses to streamline operations and become more agile in response to future, disruptive changes.

On the digital transformation journey, cloud adoption is a critical first step toward resilience for SMEs. Beyond this, conducting business in the cloud in the long term is also the best bet for future-proofing operations in a global digital economy.

The global digital economy will be driven by the latest tech, from artificial intelligence and machine learning to the Internet of Things, which all use the cloud as a platform. As the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation notes, “cloud computing is integral to new IT-driven business developments” which, in themselves, will stimulate the economy by driving new solutions to existing problems.

The Future of Business Resilience report, released by Microsoft in 2020, notes that investing in the latest technology results in 20 to 30 per cent higher workforce productivity, and 40 to 50 per cent faster speed to market, among other benefits.

Investing in such tech pre-emptively, instead of reactively also delivers 50 per cent higher returns while speeding up digital transformation by 14 per cent, according to the report.

With economies having moved out of the initial ‘response’ phase to pandemic-driven market changes, now is the time to embrace proactive solutions for building sustainable businesses of the future.

Driving uptake of beneficial cloud solutions in Kenya means meeting our country’s unique infrastructure needs to make connectivity accessible.

Data centres, fibre and mobile wireless networks have struggled to provide affordable, consistent, high-speed internet connectivity to far-flung, underserved communities. This prompted Microsoft’s Airband initiative, which uses TV white spaces - unused broadband frequencies between TV channels - to deliver inclusive connectivity.

With initiatives addressing connectivity needs, Kenya’s SMEs can leverage the power of cloud-based tech, which removes other potential roadblocks to establishing and growing a small business.

The writer is Microsoft country manager for Kenya

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