Recent technologies such as cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) have disrupted the business landscape, leveling the playing field for small medium businesses (SMBs) to compete with established industry players in today’s digital economy. With SMBs making up 99% of Singapore companies, contributing 50% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), the world is now truly their oyster…or is it? In Singapore, digital transformation will be key, adding US$10 billion to its GDP, according to a study by IDC and Microsoft. With digital products and services becoming increasingly significant to Singapore’s economy, more than ever before, SMBs will need to optimize their use of technology and digitally transform their workplaces in the coming years, or risk struggling to compete in a hyper competitive marketplace, especially against a backdrop of geo-political instability and global economic gloom.
Simple, yet reliable
Research by Deloitte shows that fast-growing SMBs are more likely to use the cloud for daily work, and business owners want a premium quality network compatible for their growing needs. Because SMBs tend to be armed with typically lean IT resources (if at all), the most suitable network solution is one that is easy and simple to set up, and reliable enough to work without business owners having to constantly manage it.
With the explosion of mobile and IoT devices on the market and the growing trend of ‘flexible working’, even SMB employees expect to be able to log on to the internet swiftly and securely no matter where they are. Good connectivity is also an expectation while customers shop, eat or wait. Take a boutique hotel for instance, a poor performing Wi-Fi connection could be the difference between a five-star and four-star review. Similarly in retail, stores that have implemented a secure and scalable network find that they can start to digitalize their in-store experience to help customers order or find products. Essentially, connectivity is the differentiator that could turn a ho-hum customer experience into an amazing one for increased customer loyalty and brand preference.
While there are certainly huge benefits for SMBs to digitally transform their businesses, it also comes with increased risks. The more mobile devices are allowed on the network, the more points of access for hackers to breach. A recent survey found that 56% of SMBs in Singapore have experienced some form of cyberattack over the past 12 months. SMBs are easy targets due to the lack of security built into their networks. In order for businesses to grow and protect against breaches, owners are going to need an enterprise-grade network with in-built security features designed to segment the network.
Many business owners are rightly concerned about letting guests onto their business network. With a traditional home network setup, the best SMB owners can do is to make guests have to sign in using a password to add that extra bit of security. However, enterprise-grade network solutions now available for SMBs can segment the network with an extra layer of security, with improved performance overall to boot. For instance, one portion of the network could be confined to operations, while another could prioritize guest access. This setup ensures that guest traffic stays separate from business-critical traffic or payments, limiting access points for hackers.
Setting up for the future
For too long, small businesses have had to accept the trade-off between performance and costs. In order to remain competitive in today’s constantly evolving digital world, small businesses need to be deploying innovative and scalable solutions that are comparable to larger organizations to create value, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and build customer confidence.
Although many businesses in Asia Pacific have invested in workplace technology in the past year, these solutions are often predicated on traditional networks that depend on patchwork upgrades when new needs arise. By ensuring networking requirements are effectively re-evaluated, the installed Wi-Fi solution needs to be from a trusted vendor that has in-built security to protect against common threats, while enabling an improved digital experience for both employees, customers and partners.