ICT modernisation becomes an imperative for South Africa’s mid-market

Many mid-sized South African organisations continue to rely on manual business processes and legacy systems to run their operations. This approach is out of step with a world in which customers are empowered with a range of mobile and digital technologies.


Keith Fenner, Chief Sales Officer, Sage  says that South African organisations that have not done so yet need to start transitioning to agile, web-friendly business management solutions that can help them to improve efficiencies.


Fenner says “For companies that still run largely on home-grown legacy systems, older ERP systems and even paper-based processes, the best way forward isn’t necessarily to replace them with an ERP suite. Instead, the optimal route will be to deploy flexible, modular business management solutions that can be implemented at a rapid speed.


“The approach could be to address immediate pain points – such as financial management, billing or procurement – and then to add other modules and functionalities as needed. Today’s business management solutions allow companies to take advantage of enterprise-class business management functionality, security, and scalability at a fraction of the cost and complexity of typical ERP systems. They simplify IT management and free up resources to focus on more important projects.”


Efficient, cost-effective and customer-centric

Fenner says that South African businesses are under pressure to be efficient, cost-effective and customer-centric. IT can offer some great answers to their customer service and budgetary challenges. A robust business management solution will allow enterprises to improve operational performance and visibility.


It starts with the basics of streamlining processes such as financials, payroll, human resources, procurement, billing, inventory management, and asset management. Once an integrated but modular backbone is in place, companies can access richer reporting to inform budgeting, planning and strategy, he adds.


The next step is to put in place more advanced features to give customers, employees and stakeholders access to applications and services wherever they are.  To take the leap forward, enterprises need to put in place a next-generation of business management solution that is architected for the digital world.


Such a solution must be built for mobile-first customers and employees, massive data volumes, and intelligent, connected sensors and devices, says Fenner. “Ideally, enterprises should be looking at business management solutions that allow for a choice of cloud, hybrid or on-premises deployments best suited to different regions and areas of the business,” he comments.


Qualities of a modern enterprise system

The solution must deliver a better, more personal user experience with secure web and mobile technology at its core. Whether that’s at the office or on the go, users should be able to access the data they need, in an intuitive interface, personalised to their role and preferences. It should also enable mobile and online self-service for customers.


A scalable multi-tier architecture that ensures virtually unlimited capacity is another must. And the platform must be simple to manage with limited IT resources, whether deployed in the cloud or deployed on the enterprise’s own infrastructure.


Configurability is also important, says Fenner, noting that a business management solution should be flexible enough to adapt to the organisation’s processes where necessary while empowering it to enforce tighter process disciplines in its workflow if that is its desire.  The data model has to support complex organisational deployment and reporting structures, simplifying management across multiple facilities, branches, and regions.


Says Fenner: “With the rise of the Internet of Things, big data, and mobile apps, enterprises have many opportunities to innovate. For example, the Internet of Things could help with managing infrastructure and assets, streamlining maintenance and reducing opportunities for theft.”


“Big data analytics could offer compelling insights into business challenges around the workforce, supply chain, marketing and more. And digital platforms offer ways to make life more convenient for customers through self-service. A scalable platform will ensure the business never runs out of capacity again—and will quickly adapt to its changing needs, growing with the enterprise to expand to new markets or geographies, and making it simple to manage a global business.”


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