By Marilyn White Radebe, CEO and Founder of the Soma-Solutions Group of Companies
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) characterised by the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilisation of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies such as 5G, among other things has ushered in a new era of economic disruption. Technology, by far, has had the greatest impact on our daily lives in recent years affecting not only our personal lives, but how we do business – technology in business changes the game!
From keeping people connected to assisting businesses to improve their customer experiences, all whilst increasing globalisation. There is no denying the power of technology and how it has sustained businesses as well as provided them with both tangible and intangible value. More businesses are realising the many benefits that come with harnessing the power of technology in their day-to-day operations.
Technology in business allows for better efficiency
Technology has enabled businesses to work efficiently without altering the quality of the work. Digital tools such as task management applications have made it easy for employees to keep track of tasks that are assigned to them and manage all the activities in one place. Moreover, thanks to technology, businesses can also save on costs and time by making use of online payment platforms for product or services purchases and using financial software systems to help with payroll and tax affairs.
Adds convenience to customer services
Customer service is always at the centre of every business because good customer service means retaining customers, attracting more customers, and increased revenue. Technology has presented businesses with an opportunity to interact with customers no matter where they are, and at an increased speed. Customers no longer have to travel to business premises and stand in long queues just to speak to representatives and have queries resolved. Businesses can now provide options on their websites, such as live chats for customers to send through their queries and receive real-time responses through chat bots.
It provides safety from cyberattacks
A business’s reputation, corporate information and the customer’s trust are the most important part of any business. Theft of data / data leaks from a company can damage a business’ reputation and break customer’s trust. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that every business has the right measures set in place to prevent any risks of cyberattack. Technology has enabled us to create cyber security software that helps protect businesses’ data such as customer’s personal information, sensitive data and intellectual property.
Enhances Marketing Strategies
Digital presence has become a necessity to consumers when making purchasing decisions as a measure to ensure that they are buying from credible businesses. Through technology, every business, whether big or small, can develop a digital presence through setting up social media pages to share information regarding what they do, their products and services, their values, where they are situated and how people can reach them. Technology provides businesses with a wide range of digital tools to market themselves such as blogging about their products and services in order to reach their customers, sharing relevant content that provides value to their customers and also making use of email marketing to promote their business.
Helps reach a wider audience
Technology has made it possible for businesses to reach a wider audience. Businesses are no longer limited to their geographical area to reach their customers. An example is e-commerce stores that allow anyone around the world to purchase products and have them delivered anywhere they are, ensuring that everything takes place online including browsing of products, payment and tracking the delivery of the products.
Provides communication efficiency in communication
The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the way in which business professionals communicate and go about networking without physically seeing each other. Due to lockdown regulations most employees had to work from home to avoid travelling and adhere to social distancing, this propelled them to communicate through email, WhatsApp and Zoom meetings to continue with business operations. This goes to show the power of technology in businesses, how it has allowed employees to stay connected wherever they are.
Case Study: Soma-Solutions
These are just a few of the many benefits that organisations can enjoy by embracing technology in businesses. Here at Soma-Solutions, we launched two new digital platforms this year: Edu-Supply and SmartSaver.
Edu-Supply is an online platform (website) that is designed to help parents and schools across South Africa purchase their children’s stationery without having to shop at multiple stores to fulfil their children’s full stationery list for school. Its main goal is to make shopping for stationery convenient for parents by allowing them to purchase stationery from their phones or laptops, saving them time by avoiding long queues at stores, and having to visit multiple stores to find all the stationery their children will require for the term. In the long-term, shopping options on Edu-Supply will not only include stationery, but textbooks and school uniforms as well. Delivery of the items will be nationwide. Most parents prefer to buy stationery early in the year, and during that time they often find that the stationery they are looking for has run out or they simply do not have the time to go shopping. Edu-Supply is the best solution to this problem.
SmartSaver, is an online goal-based saving platform created to inspire communities to save and achieve their short-term and long-term financial goals. It is designed to assist people in saving for their lifestyle goals, such as stationery, textbooks and uniforms. The online platform is easy to use, transparent, and a great tool for financial planning and saving with discipline. The platform helps users to save up for their dream purchases faster, and encourages users to earn discounts whilst saving for items that they would have spent their money on anyway. The purpose of SmartSaver is to encourage a culture of saving amongst South Africans.
Through these platforms, Soma-Solutions also aims to showcase the power of technology, and how it allows us to break into any industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of future-proofing businesses, and through these two platforms, Soma-Solutions is showing entrepreneurs how this can be done through technology. We can now break into any industry, and grow existing business operations through harnessing the power of digital.
Technology is here to stay and it has shown us how we can now break into any industry, and grow existing business operations through harnessing the power of technology. If you haven’t yet incorporated technology in your business, you are definitely missing out on the benefits of productivity, cost-saving and staying ahead of your competitors.
*For more essential business tips and tricks, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.
*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here.