Thursday, March 24, 2011

Changing small business with online technology

For almost a decade now South Africa has been lagging behind first world countries like the US and UK when it comes to internet connections speeds, download capacities and the ability to transfer large amounts of data via a website or email to clients and business partners. After much talk of infrastructure investment and undersea cables, the post Soccer World cup South Africa is much better of and much better connected to the world. Google even launching their ‘Street View’ technology in June, making South Africa the first African country to have this technology. The time now has come for businesses large and small to start transforming the way we use the Internet and technology to start and grow our businesses

Other countries in Africa have also started to take advantage of their new online infrastructure with web-cams being sent up in Namibia at the country's world famous Etosha National Park. With such technology being harnessed, businesses are now able to market themselves on a much smaller budget. For hotels and other areas of the hospitality sector, not to mention any other business, they can now place themselves to be seen online allowing potential customers to view, representatives including Phumlani Mohoil, CIO of the FIFA World Cup 2010 Organising Committee, Hennie van Wyk, Group Head of Technology for ABSA Bank, George Munyua, General Manager for Equity Bank Limited and Morgen Mufowo of Econet Wireless are already announcing their plans to increase revenue while taking advantage of a pre set infrastructure.

Despite objections being raised about the technology around invasion of privacy, there are mechanisms for users to remove their information from these websites. In addition, for countries that depends on tourism for most of their foreign currency earnings, but do not have significant marketing budgets. Being able to view a hotel or national park online provides an equal opportunities marketing platform for small and large businesses alike.

The benefits of Africa being connected to the rest of the world will be one of the topics discussed at the CIO Africa Summit (hosted by GDS International). Today CIOs need better business insights. Now they have been provided with the Business Intelligence tools and processes to deliver reliable, current, and secure data and accessible information they wish to discuss real tangible strategies that will help develop more effective performance.

With the installation of a new undersea fiber optic cable and an infrastructure securely in place, now is the time for Africa to truly embrace business online in order to bring down costs while boosting employee efficiency and innovation.

So are we still thinking with old limitations as a precursor when creating our business plans or looking toward new markets, or have we started to embrace the possibilities and opportunities presented to us by this new, bandwidth rich information and technology infrastructure?

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