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How hybrid solutions pave a smooth road to cloud services for SMMEs

Charles Pittaway
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In today's connected world, no SMME can afford to ignore the benefits of cloud services that can help it to boost productivity, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Such services can free you of many of the complexities of looking after computer systems so that you can focus on running your business and growing your sales.

In today's connected world, no SMME can afford to ignore the benefits of cloud services that can help it to boost productivity, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Such services can free you of many of the complexities of looking after computer systems so that you can focus on running your business and growing your sales.

By using cloud-based business software, you can achieve new levels of flexibility because you don't need to install your software on a PC and then use only that one device every time you work. Giving new users access to the system as your business grows is as easy as asking for a username and password.

You can also achieve cost savings by paying a small monthly fee for your software rather than needing to buy an annual licence upfront. The fact that you won't need to call a techie into your office to install the software, upgrade your server or download a batch to your software will also save you time and money.

Security risks of cloud services are a concern

Yet—as the accountant or owner responsible for a small business—you may have a number of reasons for wanting to stick to the desktop accounting and payroll software that you know well and use every day. Many SMMEs have concerns over the security of their data with a cloud solution provider and would prefer to spend some time learning how the concept works before entrusting their confidential information to a third party.

Shifting your business software to a cloud service is not all-or-nothing

In addition, it doesn't need to take place in a single 'big bang'. Thanks to a range of innovative connected services available in the market today, you can take advantage of digital efficiencies without needing to replace everything you use with cloud services. For example:

  • A good desktop payroll or accounting solution should offer a range of hooks into the cloud so that you can use a variety of digital transaction and payment solutions from within your business software.
  • All of a sudden, a range of systems and services you needed to buy and use separately in the past are available through one interface.

You could use online processing from within your accounting or payroll system to pay creditors, pay staff or access credit data from major credit bureaus, all through one service and one interface. In addition, the solution may even offer a mobile application that allows you to access your accounting or payroll data from a mobile device anywhere you have an Internet connection.

You will still store data on your hard drive

You will also continue to get value from a software licence you recently purchased, while enjoying the automation and convenience of the cloud. It's also a great way of introducing yourself to the benefits of the cloud before making a broader commitment to using cloud services to power your accounting, payroll and other business functions.

In our experience, most SMMEs find that the cloud takes a weight off their minds. They know that their data is safe in a secured data centre, where professionals with access to the best technology keep their data backed up and the business solution up to date with the latest patches and features.

Research from the likes of Ovum also shows a growing appetite for cloud services among small South African businesses. Slowly, we're seeing trust in such services grow as businesses become more familiar with them. In time, the cloud will be the de facto business platform for the small business.

Young entrepreneurs want their lives to be fully automated in a way only the cloud can deliver. They want accessibility, mobility, affordability and flexibility. As a result, the cloud will grow from strength to strength over the next few years. But in the meantime, connected or hybrid solutions will bridge the gap for those who want to take a slower route to the cloud.


Charles Pittaway is the managing director at Sage Pay and in this role he is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the business.

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