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SA ISP Simpli Connect says tech mobilised to help SMEs, the lifeblood of the country

Simpli Connect CEO Farhad Suleman.
Simpli Connect CEO Farhad Suleman.

South African ISP Simpli Connect believes SMEs have fewer resources to sustain themselves than larger organisations during times of crisis but are also in an advantageous position to adapt in order to survive quickly.

In the first episode of its Simpli ConnectED Podcast Series, the company explores this issue in more depth, with CEO Farhad Suleman coordinating the discussion.

Arthur Goldstuck joins the podcast to provide insights from The Digital Corporation Study in South Africa 2021 research, and Ismail Gani, Managing Executive from Vodacom Business, participates to offer practical advice and guidance to SMEs.

Tanya Dreyer from Simpli Connect discusses what solutions are available to SMEs.

In its announcement of the series, the company says according to McKinsey SMEs make up 98% of businesses in South Africa and employ between 50 and 60% of the country’s workforce, contributing to 39% of the local GDP.

“Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic SMEs were already facing challenges with a sluggish economy. More recently, South Africa has seen slowed economic growth. According to Stats SA the economy grew by 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021 which is an annualised growth rate of 4.6 percent.”

“This figure was marginally higher in the fourth quarter of 2020 with a 1.4% rise in real domestic product, with an annualised growth rate of 5.5 percent. And while this is positive, we need to bear in mind, that this is still 2.7 percent less than the first quarter in 2020. The civil unrest seen in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng will also have a long-lasting effect on the South African economy and will no doubt curb any hopes of sustained or accelerated economic recovery,” the company states.

Simpli Connect adds that COVID-19 made it clear that technology and in particular ICT, made it possible for many businesses to pivot and quickly implement remote working strategies necessary during lockdown periods. 

This was in an effort to keep businesses running and to maintain productivity. A year later, organisations are still trying to adapt to new ways of working with hybrid working models becoming common place.

It references a study conducted by World Wide Worx titled ‘The Digital Corporation in South Africa 2021’, the percentage of organisations who have increased their digital transformation efforts (15%) is very close to the proportion of staff who are able to work remotely (18%).

Conversely, the 20% of organisations surveyed, who have fallen significantly in digital transformation is almost equivalent to the 24% who had only a few staff members working remotely.

Simpli Connect asks whether more digitally transformed organisations are able to facilitate a higher proportion of staff working from home and is technology the enabler?

“The study goes on to highlight that 97% of respondents see connectivity as a key area of ICT expenditure. This is significant as connectivity has never been more important than it is today.

However, many SMEs do not have their own IT departments and may not have time to call service providers about problems they might be experiencing with connectivity. Many may need to actually visit mobile provider outlets and may not get the business advice that they seek, with consultants being very focused on a consumer market. SMEs are entitled to business grade service and offerings.,” Simpli Connect adds.

The company asserts that SMEs are often the brainchild of an entrepreneur who starts off small with the idea to grow a business. However, these businesses also need to be equipped to transform digitally in order to survive. 

According to Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index 79% of organisations in South Africa have fast-tracked some digital transformation programs this year.

Simpli Connect's value proposition is to aggregate solutions from multiple providers and thereby meet customer needs “with the best solution on the market rather than trying to fit the customer’s requirement into ‘similar’ solutions from a preferred vendor.”

The company has positioned itself as a one-stop-shop to provide end-to-end support to SME customers which includes managing any service queries directly with the service provider on their behalf.

Suleman explains: “We are in a position where we know we can play a part in helping SMEs build back better and we have developed product bundles to do just that. We have also assisted to repair infrastructure where we can and are currently allowing potential customers free trials for three to six months before we expect potential customers to commit to any of our products or solutions.”

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