With sixty-one per cent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the Asia Pacific reporting a fall in sales during the months of lockdown, and further waves and phased re-openings in place, there is an urgency to prepare your business for the long journey ahead.
This is having a marked change on my conversations with customers. While the topic of digitization is not new and technology often seen as a means to an end, moving forward there is a recognized need for SMBs to be less reactive and to consider their investments more strategically.
So, what are SMBs prioritizing to ensure digital resiliency in the long run?
Focus on people
Many organizations say that their value lies in their people. This is especially true for the tight-knit SMB community. In today’s dispersed workplace, how can you enable your staff to be the best they can and collaborate as efficiently as possible? This issue is even more pronounced with the prevalence of remote working when staff are pressured with additional tasks or the challenge of keeping things running as per normal even as they work from home.
A move away from ageing or ineffective infrastructure to an easily scalable, user-friendly cloud service can help introduce more agile processes. Employees can then focus on business goals rather than manual administrative tasks and maintenance of IT hardware and servers.
An example of such change is a provider of real estate data, Propre Japan. The company collects records on about 16 million properties each day, to help global property hunters to buy, sell and manage their portfolios. All of this data had to be archived regularly, a process that was labour-intensive and incurred management costs from a hardware perspective. With plans to expand and triple its current data volumes, Propre selected Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing, to take advantage of its improved database performance, auto-tuning features that automatically optimize memory and disks, and lower resource requirement as it undertakes most of the manual admin tasks required. As a result, Propre could spend more time planning and developing better user interfaces and additional functionality and introduce new services at a much faster pace.
No one can predict the future, but artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and advanced data analytics can let us hazard a guess and provide possible scenarios to avoid making baseless decisions. With teams forced to work apart, there are now more factors than ever contributing to decision-making. Real-time information and a viewpoint on the organization’s bottom-line can help SMBs prioritize.
A case in point is the Maldivian state-owned company that manages the national health insurance scheme, Aasandha Company Limited (ACL). It provides all citizens with instant cashless authorization of medical claims, and as such, is heavily data-driven. Using Autonomous Data Warehouse, it is working with Oracle to provide its management team with clear data-driven insights into critical aspects and aim to help improve the fraud detection efficiency by quickly filtering out anomalies using ADW's capabilities. The result will be for ACL to more accurately direct resources to who and where they are most needed.
Position technology investment for the long run
While the cloud allows SMBs to embrace agility at a lower cost of entry, it needs to be approached strategically, otherwise, the result could be a patchwork of applications or duplicative services. As such, regardless of size, companies need to plan their journey. They may wish to see where it is relevant to bring in new capabilities via cloud software, or where it makes sense to move existing workloads onto the cloud infrastructure.
In fact, today, the next generation of cloud infrastructure solutions are built as a foundational layer, designed to provide performance predictability, security and governance required to support mission-critical, performance-intensive workloads. As well as removing the need to run hardware on-premises they also provide the ability to modernize and innovate via new cloud-native or mobile features. At a time when investments are under increased scrutiny, any technology implementation needs to be for the long run, especially when no-one knows what the future holds.
Consider Australian software developer, Prophecy International. Keen to reduce the overall cost of running its workloads on a separate platform, the organization made the switch to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Consequently, the company can appreciate significantly better cost-effective performance and capacity. It has also been able to leverage Oracle Cloud’s flexibility and comprehensive portfolio from application development and business analytics to data management. This has enabled Prophecy to smoothly scale its business despite the pandemic and the increased workload as its own customers accelerated their use of digital technologies.
Another case in point is Trejhara, a supply chain and logistics solution provider, who works with customers to streamline and enhance logistics operations by improving efficiency and optimizing working capital. The company saw the importance of moving its SCMProfit, a supply chain platform to the cloud with OCI to help better serve the demands of their end-users. By migrating their workloads to the cloud, Trejhara has been able to enhance the usability of its SCMProfit application for its customers, especially in an era where governments and businesses around the world are mitigating supply chains volatility and risks. With superior cloud economics features as well, the company’s adoption of OCI has helped Trejhara to optimize its pricing model.
Digital resiliency is crucial, especially when it’s increasingly difficult to predict the future. By taking away some of the strain, empowering decisions based on data analytics and providing a strong technology foundation, SMBs will be in a better place to spot and work on new business opportunities.
(The writer is Vice President, Oracle Digital, JAPAC, email: [email protected])