Proper ICT research key to SME survival

DURBAN – If South Africa’s small and medium-sized (SME) business owners thought homework ended with their last day of school, they should think again. 

To survive, the country’s SMEs need to make a firm commitment to properly-research their ICT suppliers.

That’s the message from independent telco, which says Africa’s most advanced economy today boasts hundreds of licensed and unlicensed Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) vendors supplying the country’s SMEs with everything from fibre to hardware and Cloud-based virtual IT and telecoms services.

"Over the past two decades, our ICT landscape transformed itself from an uninspiring desert dominated by a single player into a virtual oasis of choice. Free competition today reigns supreme. The downside is that SMEs must work harder to separate the fly-by-nights from the here-to-stays," said Group Business Development Manager, Juan Wiese.

It is vital for SMEs, in particular, to pay careful attention to their choice of ICT vendor. A small business’s monthly voice, data and hardware spend can be significant. If it starts spiraling out of control due to the selection of inappropriate vendors, ICT suddenly and unexpectedly starts posing a real risk to the continued sustainability of the new business.

Wiese provides the following guidelines for small business owners wanting to get the best out of their ICT partnerships:

Online reviews 

Most people today consult Google about health-related matters and it should be no different when it comes to our financial health. There are many online resources ( being the most obvious) where consumers detail their experiences interacting with certain companies. See if potential ICT partners appear on these sites, for better or for worse.

Company details 

Few of us consider checking those easily available company details we can see on potential partners’ letterheads. In a flash, the SME business owner can see how many years the company has been in business (from the company registration number which always contains a date), whether it is VAT-registered and who the company directors are.

Upstream suppliers 

If we believe that individuals can be judged by the company they keep, why wouldn’t SME business owners judge a potential organisational partner by the company they keep? Check vendor websites for testimonials and such like for clues as to the upstream suppliers and others that the SME will likely be dealing with, by association.

Finally, with almost one-third of local organisations reporting experiencing cybercrime, and the fact that South African telecoms networks successfully fend off overseas-based hacking attempts daily, it’s important to know what measures ICT vendors have put in place to beat VoIP-related fraud.

As a Tier 1 operator, owns its telecoms network meaning it has full control over roll-out and maintenance of this core asset. Operating its own interconnect and networking facilities means the firm can reliably offer voice calls at the country’s most competitive rates.


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