Lack of awareness is preventing South African firms from embracing technology

08 March 2019 Consultancy.co.za

While a number of South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are beginning to embrace new technology within their operations, CEO of Dashblack IT Solutions Morne Barnard asserts that most SMEs still fail to recognise the benefits that technology can bring to their firms.

Based in Johannesburg, Dashblack offers a wide range of solutions in the Industry 4.0 domain, including data recovery, web design, search engine optimisation, data centre design and virtualisation. The firm also delves in cloud services, which are increasingly gaining popularity in South Africa.

A number of professionals in the country – particularly those working in the IT solutions sector – have indicated that SMEs are ridding themselves of cost inhibitions regarding technological integration, and are increasingly willing to invest in the vast pool of benefits that digital transformations can bring.

According to Morne Barnard, the majority of the SMEs in the country continue to operate on obsolete systems and are consequently struggling to remain competitive in an increasingly digitalising environment. Barnard, however, attributes this to a lack of awareness about the benefits of digital transformations.

Lack of awareness is preventing South African firms from embracing technology

“From game lodges to law firms, we find that typical small and mid-sized businesses in South Africa simply don't know what IT can do for them. They still run most processes manually, lose productive time when out of the office, and spend money on costly hardware instead of using virtually free cloud-based services,” says Barnard. 

This lack of awareness, in turn, can be attributed to the lack of IT-related talent within the firms, which prevents SMEs from gaining exposure to the latest technology. Currently, a number of firms employ extremely outdated methods that could be optimised using a simple digital application, according to Barnard.

“When they discover what a simple VPN or Office 365 can do to improve their operations, they are instantly won over. And when we automate processes that have taken too much time and effort for years, they practically think we walk on water,” he says.

Barnard and other stakeholders will hope the this scenario changes rapidly, given that South Africa is currently struggling to remain competitive in the international market. Such a scenario is detrimental to the plans that President Ramaphosa has to draw substantial foreign investment over the next five years.

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