Business Product and Solutions Manager, Virgin Media Business
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the bedrock of the Irish economy. But in recent years, their customers’ expectations have shifted — with instant availability of information, services and products now considered the norm.
Many SMEs have been made sharply aware of their lack of agility when making changes, bringing into focus the need for them to keep abreast of new technologies. While this has created numerous challenges for SMEs, it has also created unprecedented opportunities for the businesses that are open to digital transformation. It is this potential for growth which has led to digitalisation being frequently referred to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’
Flexibility in digitalisation
Harnessing the power of digital technologies allows SMEs to streamline their business, adding value and increasing productivity in the process. Digital transformation also offers various benefits reflective of each, individual enterprise. For some, it involves creating an e-commerce offering to allow for out-of-hours trading. For others, it can serve to improve communication between staff, suppliers and networks. While for many more, it can help to facilitate training and recruitment.
This all helps to enhance customer experiences, driving loyalty and attracting new business. Embracing this newly emerged connectivity and communication landscape also helps to create a level playing field where SMEs can compete with larger companies for business on a local and global scale.
Connecting people with speed
To make the most of technology, businesses must assess their working patterns and identify opportunities for improvement. This could include looking at the storage of data and the benefits cloud technology could bring or evaluating the number of sales that could be made through an online offering. SMEs can also see improved efficiency as a result of the digitisation of repetitive, error-prone activities and tasks.
High qualities of network infrastructure are essential, both to underpin these technologies and to ensure that businesses are prepared for any future technological advancements as they come. Virgin Media empowers businesses with award-winning one gigabyte (GB) broadband — superfast speeds that mean no more lagging calls or slow downloads. Our install times are the quickest in Ireland too, connecting businesses and homes across the country to our network within just five working days.
SMEs often have little to no cybersecurity in place.
Privacy risks for SMEs
As businesses adopt technology, they also gather increasing quantities of data such as contact details, emails, invoices and receipts — all of which are essential to its functioning. However, this also makes them more attractive targets of cybercrime. This includes any unauthorised exploitations of systems, networks and technologies.
Hackers recognise that while the financial gain is less than if they targeted a larger business, SMEs often have little to no cybersecurity in place, meaning their chances of success are much greater. The financial burden of a breach can be substantial for a small business, while lost or compromised data can also damage a business’s reputation, so the security of their network should be an important consideration for business owners.
A solution to network safety
Traditional networks were designed to be tied to a specific location, such as an office. But with more and more businesses working remotely, there is a requirement for flexible yet secure access to that network. Cloud computing, such as Virgin Media’s SD-WAN offering, empowers businesses to connect multiple dispersed sites and data centres in a way that ensures the security of any and all data being utilised by the workers.
While the adoption of technology does create risks and challenges, embracing it can transform businesses.