The sky’s the limit: SME productivity in the cloud

By: Marc Israel, Office Division Group Lead for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands

It’s no secret that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the powerhouse of the African continent. In fact, the UN estimates that they contribute over 50% to employment and GDP in most African countries and account for about 90% of private businesses. But it’s not always easy doing business in Africa, as many entrepreneurs reading this will know. And access to affordable technology, which is key to growth, is one of the biggest challenges. On top of this, there’s often a shortage of internal skills to get the best out of complex and expensive technologies. Cloud computing, which essentially means using the internet to host and access software, is a real opportunity for SMEs that want world-class technology at an affordable price and that’s easy to use. Here’s how:

  • Affordability
    With cloud, you can pay-as-you-go, so you only pay for what you need as you need it. Designed for companies with between 1 and 10 employees, Office 365 Small Business Premium gives you all the richness of Office applications, but extending the functionality to make it available via the cloud means you can save big on your IT budget.
  • A lack of technical expertise
    Office 365 Small Business Premium is simple enough for anyone to use and can be up and running in minutes -- with a domain, website, email addresses, video and audio conferencing and offline access.
  • Scalability
    As your company grows your needs change, but you don’t want to have to buy expensive new software, especially if you’ve just bought new computers to accommodate a growing employee base. With cloud, you can purchase just what you need without paying for additional licenses, costly upgrades, or a whole new batch of software packages for each new device. While Office 365 Small Business Premium is designed with the smaller company in mind, scaling up to Office 365 is as easy as logging in online and clicking your mouse! Voila, business growth as easy as that.
  • Mobility is also critical for African businesses that often operate across vast geographies and face traditional infrastructure and connectivity gaps. The delivery of cloud services through mobile devices means you can check emails while on the road, deliver invoices in front of a client, and check your finances during a business meeting so you don’t miss out on clinching that deal there and then! Office 365 allows users to access functionality across multiple devices at no extra charge. So, you can work on documents at the same time as your business partners in different countries, connect via Lync or Skype calls, share calendars and more.  It works the same on Windows PCs and Mac, and is compatible with iPads and Android tablets, enabling a mobile workforce. Icing on the cake, even if you lack connectivity, you can still be productive with all your documents and emails right on your device, synchronized to the cloud as soon as connectivity comes back.

We believe that cloud computing has the potential to transform the region through empowering SMEs to embrace the technology they need. If you’re still unsure, why not visit our Office 365 video hub for free tutorials and our SME video hub for tips on how to unlock your business potential with our software.

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