Going digital during pandemic signals positive change for SMEs
In its research paper entitled: âDigitization – the best hope for South Africa and its small businessesâ, the SBI underlined how essential digitization is for SMEs wishing to participate in the future economy.
FOCUS: Small businesses that are not tech-savvy have mostly turned to their cell phones and social media to do business and reach their customers Image: Unsplash.
Author: Tebogo Mokwena
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As thousands of small businesses have collapsed under the weight of the economic crisis brought on by the recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, many have gone digital to survive. The Small Business Institute (SBI) said this signaled positive change for SMEs.
In its research paper entitled: âDigitization – the best hope for South Africa and its small businessesâ, the SBI highlighted how essential digitization is for SMEs wishing to participate in the future economy. âMore than a few of these (companies) that have survived have found ways to adapt and change the way they do business, what they sell or how they sell, and some intrepid and genuinely entrepreneurial souls. started new businesses during the crisis, ânoted the SBI.
âOther business owners, in the digital or data industries, have developed technology-based products or services, such as medical or contactless payment applications, or new uses for ‘wearable devices’ , which are part of the gathering place of the waves of the Internet of Things. Those who responded quickly adopted new ways of selling or managing their people, operational and financial information using digital technologies, products or services such as social media and the cloud, âthe research found.
But small businesses that aren’t tech-savvy have mostly turned to their cellphones and social media to do business and reach their customers. “Perhaps the most important tool for countless surviving SMEs has been the cell phone,” said the SBI.
âSmartphones in particular offer a universe of opportunities: services, applications, information, access to markets, education and, above all, social media platforms to market and sell products and services now. âWhatsApp, Facebook Shop, Messenger, SMS, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have made it possible for small businesses (informal or formal) to show off their products, communicate with customers, collect their data, take their money and arrange delivery, âthe report reads.
But the SBI said that while SMEs have tried to change, government policy has not done enough to support them in the digital economy. He criticized the government’s reluctance to prepare South Africans for an environment that needs to migrate to the digital space.
âThe Digital Future – South Africa’s Preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolutionâ from the National Planning Commission has been particularly severe, âthe SBI said. He cited institutional failures ranging from botched digital migration and the debacle over the release of spectrum allocation, delayed by nearly a decade, to weak political appointments, corruption and lack of leadership. . “
In the face of these failures, the SBI recommended certain measures that the government should adopt. The state needed to ensure that the necessary and affordable digital infrastructure was in place to achieve economic progress and inclusion and that it sought public-private partnerships to help find solutions to build and improve e-governance. .
He also called on the government to ensure that the details of procurement procedures are online and transparent, as this would improve efficiency and minimize corruption.