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Using technology to adapt and thrive in challenging times

Using technology to adapt and thrive in challenging times

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Amol Mitra, Vice President and General Manager, Global Small and Medium Business at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (AM) and Jacob Chacko, Regional Director, Middle East, Saudi & South Africa (MESA), at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (JC), tell us how SMEs can use technology to adapt and thrive in challenging times, as well as how Aruba’s own products and solutions are benefitting SMBs across the region.

Amol Mitra, Vice President and General Manager, Global Small and Medium Business at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

For background, can you tell us about the experience of SMEs across this region particularly during the last year?

AM: The whole market, including SMEs, went through a seismic shift during the pandemic. Organisations had to accelerate their digital efforts and implement hybrid and remote work models to ensure Business Continuity. They were faced with challenges such as upgrading infrastructures, investing in advanced technologies, moving operations to the cloud and quickly adapting to meet the demands of the new normal. We are now learning to live and work in this new normal.

SMEs too have been dealing with the same challenges. First is enabling employees to work remotely and extending ‘the office’ to their homes securely. Another issue was around achieving seamless connectivity to help employees access required information, use collaborative tools and enhance productivity. The third important aspect SMEs had to manage was maintaining their organisations’ flexibility to adopt and adapt to the changes within their IT infrastructure environment. Transitioning to the cloud is a big push for SMEs today as they want the agility and flexibility the technology brings, to make changes easily in their work and business model environments.

JC: It has been challenging for SMEs. Besides all the difficulties that the pandemic brought on, SMEs also continued to battle with cash flow issues. However, these companies were quick to understand the immediate need for digitalisation as e-commerce and work-from-anywhere models rose in popularity. Although SMEs were impacted, they were also able to identify new opportunities and leverage them. SMEs are seeking simple, secure and easy to deploy solutions of enterprise grade and those that can be availed as-a-service to operate in the digital world.

How can SMEs use technology to adapt and thrive in challenging times? 

AM: SMEs need to ensure that the foundation of the technologies they invest in is built around agility, flexibility and adaptability. They need to evaluate if the technologies they are deploying can deliver business outcomes in today’s digital-first fast-paced environments.

One of the primary business objectives of any SMEs is to reduce time to market. Technology can be a great enabler to help them accelerate time to market and deliver business outcomes. This is also where the Edge comes in. By equipping the first point of connectivity into the network, which could be any endpoint device, with enhanced intelligent computing capabilities, SMEs can achieve their digital business goals. This is what HPE Aruba is enabling SME customers to achieve.

The goal is to deliver a simple, secure and smart environment – the three critical Ss. We look at how we can take a technology infrastructure and make it simple. Then we bring in the security aspect, especially as seamless connectivity environments give birth to new and evolving threats. Finally, we assess how we can make it smart, and this is where intelligence is embedded at the Edge. We need to evaluate how we can integrate backend analytics to make the environment more productive and efficient for SMEs.

Can you highlight some of the key challenges your SMB customers are experiencing?

JC: Besides the challenges mentioned earlier, SMBs are also dealing with a small but increasingly complex IT environment. The expanded threat landscape is another big challenge that they now more than ever, need to seriously address. They are also struggling with limited IT personnel and other tech resources. Constrained IT budgets also continue to make it difficult for SMBs to invest in technologies that will help them be digitally ready.

What technologies do small and medium organisations need in order to address these challenges?

AM: Industry reports indicate that around 75% of SMEs are expected to spend more on technology post-COVID-19. In fact, we have already started to see it happening. They need to invest in technologies that help them enhance their current environment, extend their corporate networks outside of the physical office and deliver seamless and impactful experiences to customers.

JC: SMEs need to reevaluate their current business and IT environment and embark on the cloud journey, irrespective of if it is endpoint security, mobility or computing. They need to implement solutions that are simple, secure and easy to deploy. They should also look at capitalising on the power of data analytics to analyse and enable quick decision-making. Most of all, to successfully operate in the digital era, they need to also invest in seamless and secure connectivity solutions.

What is Aruba’s strategy for targeting this market?

JC: We see a significant growth opportunity in the SMB sector. We have enhanced our SMB portfolio so that SMBs can benefit from our leadership in enterprise-grade offerings by building solutions that are more secure, faster and simpler. At Aruba, we are always innovating to create world-class solutions that SMBs can take advantage of. We are also finding new channels such as service providers and e-commerce offerings, which again is a huge opportunity for SMBs. Aruba also runs focused programmes like the ‘Action club’ for our partners.

Which products and solutions does Aruba offer to SMBs and how do they benefit the end users?

Jacob Chacko, Regional Director, Middle East, Saudi & South Africa (MESA), at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

AM: Aruba delivers innovations in the simple, smart, secure umbrella that I explained in the earlier question. We have recently unveiled a new brand – Aruba Instant On – dedicated for SMEs. This brand reinforces our simple, smart and secure commitment to this sector with pioneering set of Wi-Fi products including access points and switches. This portfolio can be easily managed through a cloud-based smartphone app. Customers can configure, install and manage devices effortlessly through the app.

This portfolio of products – Wi-Fi products, switches and cloud management – are all together sold as a single solution for our SME customers. We deliver end-to-end solutions and deliver them in a comprehensive package for SMEs.

Can you share any examples of how SMBs are using Aruba technology and the benefits they’ve experienced?

AM: We are well positioned to cater to SMEs across sectors such as food service, hospitality, retail and healthcare, to name a few, with our exclusive SME offerings, as they provide a true value proposition.

For example, a coffee shop or a small clinic will have limited IT personnel and therefore look for remote management capabilities and cloud flexibility. To elaborate on the coffee shop use case, the first thing most customers do when they walk into a café is try to connect to the Wi-Fi. The café/store manager needs to ensure the experience for the customer is seamless, simple, easy and secure. As the manager you would also need to understand analytics behind repeat customers, where they sit and for how long, and so on, to improve operations and enhance customer experiences. This is what we drive at Aruba – ensuring SME businesses can deliver exceptional customer experiences (CX).

How do you support smaller organisations which have resource and budget constraints but a strong desire and business need for innovation?

AM: We take this from two angles – product and economic. From a product procurement perspective, we have made it simple and cost-effective. There are absolutely no hidden costs. As a company, we support SMEs in many ways through different foundations and capabilities. We offer financial assistance and equip them to grow their business through trainings, community participations and innovative products.

What is your best practice advice to SMBs on maximising technology investments to enable them to scale?

JC: We encourage SMBs to make the transition to cloud platforms so that they can optimise their technology investments through agility and flexibility. Digitalising their current environments is the need of the hour. Also, companies ‘listening’ to the data that is generated and analysing it from the Edge are the ones who are thriving in the market today.

SMBs must be mindful to deploy solutions that are easy and scalable to match their business growth. SMBs must move to a subscription-based model, which will also help scale their IT environments as their operations expand. Finally, identify technology partners who are focused on the SME space as they will be dedicated to bringing continuous innovation to this sector.

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