Internet of Things trumps AI and blockchain for SMEs in South Africa

31 May 2018 3 min. read

Although the integration of technology into business is gaining momentum in South Africa, a new report from research consultancy World Wide Worx has revealed that small and medium enterprises are more open to internet of things (IoT) applications in their business than other technology such as blockchain and AI.

The fourth industrial revolution has landed in many countries across the world, but perhaps the most accurate measure of integration levels is the degree to which small and medium enterprises (SME) have transformed their operations, given that competitive multinational corporations have been the drivers of the revolution in the first place.

In South Africa, analysis of the SME sector has revealed varying levels of preparedness and willingness to advance, depending on the type of technology in question. For instance, a recent interview with two senior executives working at a software solutions firm revealed that migration to cloud platforms is one area where SMEs were previously hesitant, but are now displaying intent.

A recent report from Big Four professional services firm Deloitte revealed how a handful of firms across South Africa have begun planning for the integration of the latest technology – particularly blockchain – into their operations. These tools are being considered not only to expand service offerings and reach, but also to optimise internal operations.Internet of Things trumps AI and Blockchain for SMEs in South AfricaHowever, according to a new report from World Wide Worx, this intent has not yet extended to the SME sector. Based in Johannesburg, World Wide Worx is a research-based consulting firm, which leverages its in-depth analysis on market trends to devise strategies for its clients.

As per the firm’s ‘SME Survey 2018,’ which analysed inputs from 1,400 respondents across South Africa, IoT is the only aspect of technological advancement that is gaining momentum amongst SMEs in the country. Over the next five years, 83% of those surveyed said that they would integrate IoT into their business over the next five years, while only 29% said the same about AI and 27% about Big Data.

“This is not too surprising, considering that these technologies are mostly beneficial to businesses with large customer bases or complex logistics,” said Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director of World Wide Worx and the primary researcher for the survey. He went on to explain the divide that exists between SMEs andbigger corporations regarding the adoption of technology.

“It has become obvious over the years that only technologies that directly benefit the SME, by helping it to save or make money, or become more efficient, will be adopted. IOT clearly fits the bill here. SME decision-makers are generally only willing to embrace a new technology if there is a clear business case to do so.”

“Many SMEs have already been exposed to the benefits of the IOT in some form or another, thanks to technologies for vehicle tracking and asset management, so they are already aware of its benefits. This is the most likely reason SMEs foresee this as an area of major investment in the near future.”