When it comes to technology, the SME landscape in Australia is almost unrecognisable to what it was when I started my business eNerds, a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP), focused solely on helping SMEs thrive, twenty or so years ago.
Back then internet connection was poor, barely anyone had a proper website – and expensive, rigid, clunky file servers were slowing businesses down especially with remote access. Not only that, they were stifling flexibility and collaboration and leaving business out of pocket in the process.
The trouble was, technological innovation hadn’t quite reached a point where small businesses could benefit from it. Prices were high and quality was low.
Fast forward to today and the outlook is a lot different. Technological innovation and the democratisation of key business tools means that now even the smallest of businesses have access to first-grade technology.
For example, side hustlers and bloggers now have the ability to build professional-looking websites, Google Adwords and social media have enabled SMEs to put their brands out to the masses, and even the smallest of businesses can now be truly collaborative and operate on an incredibly light footprint using cloud technology.
In my eyes, the evolution of cloud technology and SaaS (Software as a Service) has been the biggest game-changer for SMEs. Tools like Dropbox Business, with its file sync and share capabilities and real-time document collaboration software, enable small businesses to work fluidly and flexibly, and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders from anywhere, any time, on any device and in real-time. This could be a supplier in Far North Queensland, a manufacturer in Asia, or a colleague who’s on the road.
This means that SMEs can be more global too, such is the ease at which they can collaborate with international stakeholders. Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, has said that an increasing number of SMEs are “born global” and a survey commissioned by the Export Council of Australia said that nearly 88 per cent of Australian exporters are small-medium enterprises. Cloud technology has definitely played its part in this movement.
The ability for cloud platforms to integrate with one another has also increased productivity for SMEs by enabling their teams to work more flexibly and efficiently. To this point, born-on-the-cloud tech vendors have been very smart about meeting the buying preferences of SMEs – such as the ability to mix and match best of breed tools rather than being locked into one product suite. Many of these tools, such as Dropbox Business, Office 365, Xero, Salesforce, Trello and Slack integrate which each other so that users can work freely and seamlessly. For example, our clients’ most popular integration is Microsoft Office365 and Dropbox Business. This partnership enables users to search for and attach relevant files and folders from Dropbox without leaving the platform.
Technology has completely changed the game for SMEs and it’s incredibly important that they continue to invest in it. When I started my business twenty years ago, what is possible now just wasn’t achievable, so SMEs really need to make the most of what’s at their disposal.
Adopting cloud technology is a good start. Operating on a light footprint, being more collaborative and global in your approach, and enabling your team to work fluidly without interruption will have huge benefits on your business both in the short and long term. That’s something we tell our clients on a daily basis at eNerds and I can’t see that changing any time soon.
Jamie Warner, CEO and co-founder, eNerds