SMEs can anticipate being better equipped to compete against larger and global players, thanks to a home-grown enterprise management solution from 4most.
Years ago, it may well have been true that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would have been significantly disadvantaged as compared with their larger, global counterparts. However, in recent years technology has disrupted, and in some cases actually levelled the playing field to the point where smaller, leaner, more agile businesses could have the advantage.
Marius Fabian, MD of Centurion-based 4most, which supplies and implements SAP ERP business management solution software and technology solutions, explained that in the automotive industry, for example, a company’s business process remains the same regardless of the size of the enterprise. This holds true wherever it might be operating, as well as whether it is entering the market or already dominant. For SMEs, the benefits associated with being able to manage that process efficiently by having the right enterprise management system in place, can enable them to compete more vigorously with their larger global counterparts.
Marius Fabian, MD of 4most
The change imperative
Fabian pointed out that not only has the world changed thanks to the ubiquitous predominance of technology, but so too have general users and business customers, who “want what they want when they want it.” This means that businesses also need to change accordingly and those that fail to do so, simply fall by the wayside or worse, become obsolete.
“If you look at the Fortune 500 companies of 2000, 52% aren’t in existence today. I’m not saying it is only IT related, but a lot of them couldn’t adapt to the change that the customer was demanding,” added Eugene Olivier, the business development director of 4most. Two of the more visible examples of this are Kodak, and more recently, BlackBerry’s fall from grace.
“What concerns me is that many businesses don’t realise that we are now part of the global world, whether we like it or not, and they are still in the mindset that as long as they are making money they are fine. However, just doing as well as last year is going backwards,” he stressed.
As with the axiom that behind every great man there is a great woman, behind every business opportunity there is invariably new, ground-breaking or simply excellent technology. From 4most’s side, this comes in the form of EMA, a home-grown, locally developed enterprise management solution built on the core of SAP Business One.
Fabian explained that typically, and particularly in developing countries, SMEs have resorted to addressing their enterprise management needs manually, accruing four to six different applications, all with their own individual licensing fees and upgrades paths. Along with obviating this costly and time consuming hassle, EMA’s strength lies in its ability to automate business processes and deliver a reliable, unified picture of operations based on up-to-the-minute information, all from one single environment. Furthermore, the application can be deployed in an intranet, as an onsite solution, in a data centre or on a cloud (both public and private).
Fabian notes that along with boasting a high degree of customisation according to the end user’s needs and preferences, EMA’s look, feel and functionality can essentially accompany business owners or managers wherever they go and from any device they might log in. This enables them to respond to the 24/7 nature of competing globally, without being tethered to their bricks and mortar office location just to use a familiar enterprise management solution.
Even so, while mid- and in some cases even senior management, tend towards becoming younger, and thus more tech savvy, this flexibility also takes into consideration those companies that are in different stages of cloud adoption, and older, more conservative managers who are still more comfortable with their information being in a datacentre rather than entirely on a cloud.
Eugene Olivier, the business development director of 4most
Counting costs and reaping benefits
While EMA was specifically developed, tried and tested for the automotive sector, and can benefit everyone in that entire value chain, from the OEMs to the dealers, Fabian elaborated that their solution can also be used in a further ten other industries. These include normal retail business, wholesale business, for the OEM supplier, as well as OEM sales and services. Furthermore, EMA can be utilised by a sales dealer, service dealer or combination thereof, and in the near future, the transportation and logistics sector as well.
Addressing the ever-present concern of cost, Fabian explained that businesses don’t buy the product but rather rent it, and a portion of their rental fee goes into a development pot. Then, on a yearly basis, 4most hosts a feedback session as to what its users require, and that determines what new features or functionality is brought to bear.
Additionally, this strategy enables SME companies to access top-tier functionality, but at a pricing structure they can afford, which in turn can have a significant and beneficial impact on their competitiveness. Beyond that, EMA’s deployment brings what has quickly become an essential to surviving in the new world of business, namely the ability and agility to respond to the urgency with which business decisions often need to be made.
The world awaits
“The business environment is changing so quickly, you can’t wait for two or three weeks for information anymore, you need to have the information immediately to be able to make a decision right now. If a decision maker had to wait three weeks for their business information to make a decision, the risk that it will be the wrong one is extremely likely,” he explained.
Additionally, for businesses where customer service can mean the difference between a successful deal and a lost sale, having speedy access to its information is paramount. In the automotive industry, for example, a dealer that promises to provide a product to their customer by Monday at 12 o’clock needs to deliver on his promise, or else risks losing that customer.
However, 4most is not just banging the drum for SMEs competing on a global scale without walking the talk itself. The 50 strong employee company, which Fabian asserts will remain tight-knit and strongly focused, is in the process of launching EMA globally. “Can we take on the world? I don’t see why not. We have the people, we have the commitment, and then of course the biggest thing that I enjoy about the rest of the world is that they underestimate us, which for me, is a competitive advantage,” he concluded.