The future promises a lot: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain and robots are just some of the new technologies changing the world. These innovations will make an impact during 2020, but most businesses won't focus on them yet. There are more current technology trends that are ripe for bringing into any organisation.
More cloud for SMMEs
South Africa is now squarely part of the cloud club. We have local Microsoft Azure data centres, and Amazon's AWS will be launching its centres soon. Then there are numerous private cloud hosts and service providers. Today's businesses could be run entirely on a phone, thanks to the cloud.
But many small and medium businesses are still not on board. The market has noticed and is starting to give more attention to smaller firms. It's about time, not the least since South African SMMEs are targeted continuously by cybercriminals! But there are incredible benefits as well, some of which we've explored right here on Vodacom Now. The market will be offering a lot more, and much of it directly to SMMEs.
Retailers are starting to use e-commerce more as another revenue stream, adding features such as pick-up containers and same-day delivery. In November, Checkers launched a 1-hour delivery service. Pop-up e-commerce stores are also appearing more often, a direct result of the e-Commerce-as-a-Service market.
Companies pay service providers to help create and manage their e-commerce store, as well as their inventory and delivery. e-Commerce-as-a-Service enables companies with little e-commerce experience or resources to have an online store. As a result, there will be many more instances of local e-commerce in 2020.
Faster business registrations
Business registrations in South Africa are slow and painful. It's a problem because such delayed registrations make it harder for our economy to grow. Other African countries that are pushing for growth and investment, such as Ethiopia and Rwanda, are focusing on this problem and gain a lot from fixing it. South Africa has been asking the Government for years to do the same.
Our calls are being answered. In November, the Government launched BizPortal, a website where businesses can be registered quickly and cheaply. Even though it won't be the most visible change in 2020, BizPortal will help formal companies grow. The service also makes it much easier for entrepreneurs to create new companies, which builds the economy and employment. Sometimes a small thing can go a long way.
More remote working
You don't need to stay at your desk anymore. Working from home, coffee shops or even in the company canteen is becoming more common. High-skill employees in particular now expect flexi-time or work-from-anywhere arrangements so that they can balance their work and life responsibilities. Many companies report losing good recruits because they don't have remote working available.
Remote working isn't perfect. Some jobs need to happen at the office. Yet the biggest stumbling block is that companies don't change how they operate to make remote working possible. But there is a realisation that it’s what top employees want, so South African companies are making the switch. If you hope to spend some of your workdays in your pyjamas, 2020 could be the year for you.
IoT for every business
The Internet of Things (IoT) sounds futuristic. But it's been around us for a while - even decades in some industries. These examples though were not what you'd use in your average company. They were too advanced or complicated. Putting sensors on mining equipment makes sense, but sensors on the shelves of a small retailer? That's just dumb.
Yes, it was once dumb, when sensors were expensive and the systems that watched them cost even more. But this has changed. More and more companies offer IoT as a service. Now you can select a specific thing in the business and have it monitored. A basic sensor on a door can tell you how often it opens and closes. This is an excellent way to measure footfall into your store, sent to a neat web portal that works on your phone and computer. Maybe you run a generator nearby and want to know how much fuel is left. A sensor and IoT service can do that - and only that. The big change is that businesses can now pick which IoT services they want and focus on those.