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By 25 February 2021 | Categories: feature articles

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By Sabine Dedering, Regional Sales Director Dell Technologies, South Africa

All businesses have been faced with rapid and significant market changes and buying behaviours; allowing those who have redefined their business to thrive and grow and those who have not, to shrink and even close. Technology has a major role to play in facilitating rapid organisational change, efficiency by converting large amounts of data into business data or insights that can be used to create operational efficiencies and business innovation.

With the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution, agility is key, and this is what stands medium businesses in good stead! Due to their size, medium businesses can transform faster than big organisations. That is not to say that big business is not transforming, or that they are not able to do so quickly, it is just that medium business may have a lot less obstacles to overcome like global approvals, consistency, consensus and of course business procurement, approvals and legacy systems and infrastructure.

There is no doubt that IT-as-usual cannot be the way forward! To better respond to the needs of their business to survive and grow, medium businesses can take advantage of Dell Technologies as-a-Service capabilities. Project APEX has expanded Dell Technologies as-a-service capabilities and allows medium businesses to access Dell technology on-demand - across storage, servers, networking, hyperconverged infrastructure, PCs, and broader solutions. Scheduled for the first half of 2021, Project APEX will radically simplify how medium businesses consume and deliver IT services to accelerate digital transformation, by allowing for choice and flexibility on how they consume IT infrastructure.

The good news for medium businesses is that Project APEX has usage-based consumption models to cut costs, boost agility, and gain revenue. Medium Businesses that are very often cash flow dependant, can arrange payment terms accordingly. It is not only about cashflow, many medium businesses do not know what their businesses will look like in the not-too-distant future, so allowing them to consume technology as they use it, also potentially saves on big initial outlay costs.

According to a whitepaper produced by Dell Technologies, “The Edge exists wherever the digital and physical world intersect, and data is securely collected, generated and processed.” With change being a constant, business need to operate at the edge where they can “generate actionable insights, digitise their business processes and even transform their customer experiences”.

Edge computing works in conjunction with cloud computing where cloud analytics that are time sensitive are pushed the Edge where data is quickly collated and analysed to turn into actionable insights. 80% of inventory control for example, is just counting what is on the shelf. Automated inventory control is more accurate than manual inventory tracking as it is error-prone and time-intensive. Automated inventory management can track supply and re-order items when supply is low without requiring a person to physically take inventory. Using Edge computing, connected devices are able to complete local data analysis, sending only necessary data like an order, or a final updated inventory count to a central server or data centre.

Another good example is how AI and Edge computing are making CCTV or video footage almost “smart”. Real time filming using CCTV means massive amounts of data are produced. With the advent of Edge computing analytics at the edge is a more efficient use of bandwidth and storage. Many businesses store the data produced from CCTV in case they have an insurance claim, but they are not using the data to make money, save money, or reduce risk, and that's exactly what CCTV can do if you pair it with edge computing a clever algorithm called AI, or big data! For example, CCTV can be used to monitor the parking lot of a shopping mall, and pick up the thermals of the people approaching before they get into the mall, allowing for security to be dispatch to prevent them from entering the mall and possibly spreading infection.

Medium businesses could have an idea for the use of Edge computing and AI in their own business but might not have the know-how to implement the idea. Dell Technologies offers the service of running a workshop with industry experts from Dubai that work with some of the biggest retailers in the UK and assist with applications using CCTV and AI producing individualised applications to meet the specific business need.

A local example in practice is the Springboks rugby team. Their head coach and coaching staff have made use of CCTV and AI to really look at what the players are doing and how they could improve their game in the future. With Dell being the technology partner of the Springboks it is clear that at this level of sport where as little as a 1% improvement could mean the difference between winning or losing the World Cup, data adds huge value. So, it is the culmination of talent, training, mental strength and preparation and the use of data that can help athletes and teams improve and become world-class.

This is undoubtedly an era of disruption. However, it can be a time during which medium organisations can accelerate the digital transformation journey. Dell Technologies helps medium sized businesses lay the foundation on which to build an agile, digital organisation with the requisite support to ensure they are managing security, unlocking innovation and modernising their success with finance they can control via Project APEX building on Dell Technologies’ as-a-service capabilities and the intelligent use of Edge technology, coupled with AI and machine learning.

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