Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

That technology has become so pervasive that we can take it for granted is only one reason why it’s essential that small companies have access to affordable, useable technology to help them grow.

It’s just a smartphone to you, but to a business owner with the right tools it’s a literal lifeline, giving them the information and tools they need to stop getting bogged down in the daily grind of admin, and start planning, and forecasting and growing their businesses. Much like electricity or connectivity, technological tools are becoming utility requirements for modern businesses.

Providing those utility tools will enable SA’s start-ups and SMEs — whether they are informal sector traders or Silicon Valley-experienced technology geniuses — to grow and develop, and thus put us on the road to achieving the kind of economic growth the country requires. The technology exists, and is, in some instances, easily available and affordable. As a business sector we need to reach out and address those businesses for whom that technology is not readily accessible.

Today we build and run businesses that weren’t even possible a few short years ago, hiring people for jobs that did not exist, and planning for a future that includes innovations we struggle to conceive of. All because of technology.

What is even more fascinating today is that since the birth of the internet we have been progressing to a world where each thing on it’s own has less worth when left in isolation and the real power comes from being connected and integrated.

Take the simple card reader. Many of us use them daily, with little thought, and they allow countless businesses to easily and securely receive payment. Look a bit further though, and you have a device that can dramatically improve that business -its operations, turnover and profits.

If you gather the transaction data generated by the card reader and plug it into a business portal it can become a gateway to enable a business owner/manager to manage staff, add and remove inventory, get daily reports, track sales, monitor stock levels — essential to both stock and cash flow management -and obtain an analysis of what items are selling best, or how sales are tracking over time, for example.

This data connects to accounting systems, to point of sale systems, it becomes an input stream, saving businesses the chore of replicating events that happened just for the purpose of reporting and recording.

And it enables analysis, forecasting and planning for growth — something that, without the data, is impossible for most businesses to do accurately. With technology, we can take South Africa’s SMEs and turn them into bigger, growing businesses, employing people and providing services that empower the people and businesses around them.

• Lungisa Matshoba, chief technology officer, Yoco

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