Custom digital solutions are no longer reserved for large enterprises
Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of the South African economy – and, in fact, the continent.
A report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that micro, small and medium enterprises constitute more than 90% of all formal business in South Africa, employ 50-60% of the workforce and contribute 34% of GDP. Across Africa, SMEs account for approximately 80% of jobs.
These are staggering figures, and yet even though they are key drivers of economic growth, these companies often lag behind in an increasingly digital world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
These businesses often face significant roadblocks on their digitalisation journeys. Research by Microsoft shows that 47% of SMBs find the cost of new technologies to be the most restrictive factor to adoption, while 38% have difficulty comparing available solutions and choosing the most appropriate option.
Tarsus On Demand, a widely recognised services and solutions aggregator in the cloud space across Africa, noted these challenges and developed Digital on Demand (DOD), a new marketplace platform with cloud-based solutions designed to solve the unique challenges faced by SMBs.
Jessica Harvey, Business Unit Manager at Tarsus On Demand, says DOD has been carefully crafted as a response to a critical need in the market. “Our vision for DOD steps outside the one-size-fits-all approach. We have curated our marketplace to provide tailored, strategic solutions that resonate with the specific digital transformation goals and operational needs of SMBs.”
DOD encompasses everything an SMB requires to grow, from domain registration and email setup to cybersecurity solutions. SMBs can scroll through the various categories to find suppliers for whatever they may need – from brand exposure to niche services such as agricultural AI solutions.
They can then read more about the supplier’s offering and contact them directly from the platform. They can also contact Tarsus On Demand for assistance in finding the perfect solution and provider if they need further advice.
Harvey says Tarsus On Demand is passionate about enabling SMBs on their digital journey. “At our core, Tarsus On Demand has always had a focus on the SMB sector. In our research we found that most SMB business owners know the importance of digital transformation, but don’t know where to start because nobody’s journey is a copy-and-paste endeavour.
"While large enterprises have the budget to employ consultancies to guide them through the digitalisation process, most SMB businesses can’t afford exorbitant consultation fees. Our vision is that DOD will bridge that gap, helping SMBs craft a digitalisation journey and find the perfect solutions – all in one place.”
Tarsus On Demand did extensive research on the needs of the SMB segment, then acquired solutions to solve those key challenges. These solutions come in the form of software as a service (SaaS) applications, run in the cloud and usually accessible through desktops and mobile applications as well as a web interface.
SaaS companies offer their products for a monthly subscription or a pay-as-you-go model, which may be cheaper than investing in on-premises software products upfront.
And the DOD marketplace continues to grow, says Harvey. “We continuously run research to identify the key challenges faced in the digital transformation process by SMBs, and then we set out to find the correct providers that can solve those challenges.”
DOD also recently partnered with Microsoft to offer even more solutions. Lionel Moyal, Channel Partners Director: Microsoft Africa, says Microsoft is a platform and tools company. “We believe that the real value comes from Microsoft Cloud, as a platform to build and host solutions to not only enable and empower businesses to do more, but also provide access to the tools and technologies that drive digitisation. Through Tarsus On Demand and DOD SMBs can identify solutions that help them navigate their digitalisation journeys and ultimately drive business growth opportunities.
As for SMBs’ biggest hurdle to digitalisation – Moyal believes that the cost is not as prohibitive as it’s perceived. “Digitalisation is an increasingly important investment for businesses that are looking to drive not only efficiencies, but also create scale and competitiveness. Ultimately, it offers an excellent return on investment.”
Harvey agrees and says the custom solutions available on DOD will make this clear. “We encourage SMB business owners to explore the DOD marketplace and see which challenges it will help solve in their business. And for SaaS-based solution providers to reach out and apply to have their SMB-focused solution listed. We are partners in innovation, fostering digital inclusivity so every business can thrive on its own terms. Our role is to encourage digital transformation and promote growth within this vital sector.”