Industry experts on building an effective Digital Transformation strategy for SMEs

Industry experts on building an effective Digital Transformation strategy for SMEs

With digitalisation now firmly on the agenda of all businesses, whatever their size, it’s crucial that an effective Digital Transformation strategy is in place to guide the process.

We spoke to two industry experts who offered their views on how SMEs can prepare their strategies to enable greater agility, better customer experiences and, ultimately, business growth.

Amin Hanafieh, Country Director, UAE, VMware

The SME sector is hugely important to the regional economy and is an area that VMware serves with a range of solutions.

SMEs usually have fewer resources than larger organisations and often have limited budgets for IT and application development. Yet increasingly, SMEs, just like larger businesses, must be able to offer seamless and secure digital services – whether for ordering, communication, billing or any other area of their offering – to gain and retain customers.

Failure to do this can be the difference between life or death for an SME. They must also be able to offer their employees the kind of digital experience they expect, which increasingly means secure, flexible working across a variety of devices and from any location.

SMEs should therefore take a holistic approach to developing their Digital Transformation strategies and consider digital services for customers and partners, and digital solutions to internal operations and employees. The best way for SMEs to achieve Digital Transformation while avoiding the high costs associated with buying and maintaining expensive infrastructure is to embrace a cloud-first approach.

By working with VMware, for example, all types of organisations can access a flexible cloud platform that gives them the ability to upscale or downscale as required, and to quickly build, deploy and run seamless and secure applications. They can also deploy powerful software such as Workspace One, enabling them to operate and manage a distributed workforce.

A cloud-based approach is also important for SMEs as it confers greater levels of efficiency than a traditional ‘on-premise’ infrastructure approach, as in the virtual world, servers are shared and therefore used to full capacity, saving energy and resources.

In this way, SMEs gain a vastly superior IT service at a lower cost than they would be able to achieve through a tradition approach using physical on-premise servers.

VMware services for SMEs

With VMware solutions for small and midsize business, you can optimise your limited

resources to enable you to focus on your business. Our solutions enable you to protect your IT infrastructure, even as it evolves to support your business initiatives. The end result is simplified IT management, lower costs and the flexibility to support your mobile workforce.

VMware offers solutions tailored to small and midsize businesses’ broad range of IT needs

Mihir Shah, CEO, StorCentric (parent company of Drobo, Nexsan, Retrospect, Vexata and Violin Systems)

While small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) around the world continue to address countless challenges brought about during 2020, many are hopeful that 2021 will slowly but surely provide the opportunity to get back to business as usual.

While the definition of ‘usual’ may have morphed over the past year, a more disciplined approach to planning may be back on the table. And, for IT in particular, instead of putting out the many fires that the events of 2020 ignited, 2021 promises to provide an opportunity to get back to more strategically planned Digital Transformation initiatives.

So, where to begin? In 2021, Digital Transformation strategies must first focus on two foundational areas: data mobility and data protection.

If organisations cannot move their data from point A to point B (and to C, D, E and so on), Digital Transformation is basically at a standstill. Unfortunately, data migration, data replication and data synchronisation can be complicated endeavours that result in creating obstacles, instead of delivering the strategic business value, IT benefits and budgetary advantages for which they were intended.

For instance, data mobility has become a key issue for IT teams as they work to accelerate their integration of multiple cloud providers alongside existing infrastructure. What is now necessary is for SMEs to employ data mobility solutions that enable seamless data migration, data replication and data synchronisation across heterogeneous platforms and cloud environments.

In doing so, SMEs will be able to eliminate data silos and move data to the platform or environment best suited to meet their IT, business and budgetary requirements, thereby dramatically simplifying data management, while ensuring maximum ROI on all current and future IT investments.

Next, one of the key lessons SMEs learned in 2020 was the importance of data security and protection. In the face of what could be described as nothing short of chaos, bad actors swooped in to exploit and profit from resulting vulnerabilities with ransomware and other malware.

SMEs were of particular attraction for many cybercriminals, as SMEs often do not have the same level of protection that enterprises with more generous budgets possess. In 2021, SMEs must recognise that cybersecurity, data protection and what many pundits refer to as ‘unbreakable backup’ are intertwined and another key foundational Digital Transformation priority.

While innovative and seemingly bulletproof data protection and security solutions are a must, they are not enough as malware is now also targeting backups. By incorporating unbreakable backup solutions, SMEs can ensure that even in the face of a successful data breach, they can recover, maintain operations and avoid paying ransoms.

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