Modern technologies promise a lot for those who adopt them. Artificial intelligence, real-time analytics, the Internet of Things, virtualisation, business platforms and many new services are reshaping how business is done.
Yet they seem out of reach as expensive and complicated technologies. A large enterprise might have resources to pursue the above concepts, producing exciting new areas such as 360 customer views, chatbots, business process automation and better value chain management. Medium companies, which have the same needs but not such deep pockets, can feel left out of the conversation.
It doesn't have to be the case, said Sabine Dedering, Regional Sales Director at Dell Technologies South Africa:
"Many things have changed in digital technologies, but the biggest change is how accessible technology solutions are today. In some cases, it's as easy as paying for a service online. Even complicated solutions, such as modern server ecosystems, are more affordable. Today's solutions can be exploited for all their worth, and you can ensure that every cent is wisely invested."
Using modern technology requires a spirit of experimentation and innovation. While more-established systems have developed fairly ubiquitous use-cases, we're only starting to realise the potential of technologies at the cutting-edge. This scenario is why companies mustn't wait until such an investment is a low-risk proposition. By that stage, most competitive advantages will have diluted. It is best that your organisation grows and evolves with the potential a given technology can offer.
So how can medium enterprises start exploring that potential, without bankrupting itself?
Four doors to new technologies
Cutting-edge technologies can be brought onboard in numerous ways. Keep your options simple and consider these five avenues:
- The right devices
- Adopt platforms
- Go hyper-converged
- Explore better financing
The Right Devices
Technology users have revisited and reevaluated their devices since the advent of smartphones. Heavy and clunky is out, and so is the office hand-me-down. It is much more effective in terms of productivity to align the right devices with the right roles. A salesperson needs something light, powerful and yet energy-friendly. A designer needs a stable desktop PC, while an executive benefits from a 2-in-1 device for on-the-go meetings. You don't have to get the best of the best for every employee, but you can significantly improve their work lives with the right devices in their hands.
Why is it a catalyst? Modern devices are not just lovely to look at. They celebrate the norms of contemporary technology, such as portability and collaboration. They will also encourage you to look at your data, security and device management. These are critical pillars for building a sound digital business environment in which services such as AI and IoT can thrive.
Companies once had to own every piece of technology in their operations, including the software. That same software would need customisation to align with processes, causing technical debt that lead to legacy traps. This situation is why even large enterprises still use decades-old systems that should have been retired with the ark. But software platforms have changed this completely. Now you can pay for the service on an OPEX basis, and customise it without risking the underlying software
Why is this a catalyst? Platforms are the reason why medium enterprises can now afford to use enterprise-grade services such as CRM or ERP. Platforms are also the natural homes of new technology services, some of which can be added with a few clicks.
Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) started appearing around a decade ago. These are finely-tuned servers that combine storage, networking, compute, and services in a single unit, offered as a turnkey solution. Previously, such systems were built from scratch to specific customer requirements and as such were very expensive. Leading HCI systems buck this trend by using smart manufacturing and software-defined services to offer technologies such as virtualisation at market-beating prices.
Why is this a catalyst? An HCI server contains everything needed to start running some serious modern digital technologies. HCI is cloud-ready, very affordable, easier to manage and closely aligned with top service providers. It's very modular: you can start with a small server and scale up as you need more. The HCI manufacturers and their partners handle all the risk associated with the software and engineering. Dell has been an avid HCI vendor since the start, offering products such as VxRail and Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack. HCI is the closest you can get to 'digital transformation in a box'.
Explore better financing
Technology doesn't come cheap. Market demand, skills shortages and digital sophistication inflate price tags. Today's cutting-edge technologies are affordable, but you still need a plan and a budget. This has prompted vendors to come up with much better financing models, an area where Dell Financial Services is a trailblazer.
Why is this a catalyst? Technology financing can be as flexible and creative as the solutions they support. One example is Dell's PC-as-a-Service, where customers pay a set fee per seat and Dell handles all the devices, including replacing old machines with new ones. There are also new models where businesses can procure hardware but only pay for what they use. Modern finance is often OPEX-orientated and designed to accommodate a growing company.