With limited human contact mode becoming the norm in daily business operations, companies are digitising processes to retain customers and revenue flows.
The drive has, however, exposed many to risks of adopting the wrong systems leading to increased costs and exposure of company secrets to rivals.
In an interview, Zoho Corporation’s Country Manager for Africa Andrew Bourne says small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must know how to choose the right software solution for remote (and on-site) working needs.
Mr Bourne says de facto working from home regime means integration of ‘outsider’ devices into company systems especially mobile gadgets so as to keep the business running round the clock.
“Start by clearly defining your business software needs, as well as prioritising the goals that these tools need to help you achieve. The right software solutions streamline operations and increase efficiencies in a logical, easy-to-use way,” Mr Bourne says.
The Zoho boss says privacy should top the agenda when going for a software that every employee will download for use in executing their role within the company.
He advises companies to opt for a software that does not commercialise their content by including advertisements that users view when using the platform.
“Our software solutions should not only be secure and private, but must now allow use of company information to fund an ad-revenue model. A number of privacy factors, including data protection, file encryption and cloud security, should be key to any deal with a software provider,” he adds. Covid-19 pandemic has seen software development companies offer free access to their remote working systems, thereby enabling companies to roll out online regimes with ease.
Microsoft, CompuLynx, Oracle and Google are among global IT companies that have unveiled online platforms enabling businesses to launch operations for free, albeit for a short period of time.
Zoho says integration of the new remote working platform with company’s internal platforms should also be considered to facilitate higher productivity and secure flow of information between departments.
In its current bulletin, Competitions Authority of Kenya says it adopted a work-from-home arrangement where staff acquired computers perform their daily official tasks.
“Stay off social media and use video chats to connect with your teammates frequently. Stay vigilant against information security risks,” it says. Mr Bournes says that, while people go for cheap products in the market, SMEs must cautiously tread that path and conduct a comparative study with price quotes done in local currency.
“Compare functionality offered with the features you have to have, ask for demos and get the people who are going to use the software to test it out — not just the person making the buying decision. This way you can ensure you settle on a solution that suits your needs, as much as it does your budget,” he says.
Kisumu and Nyeri county governments, in partnership with PharmAccess Foundation have tapped M-Tiba for sending Covid-19 health information text messages to over 627,000 families registered on the M-TIBA for the Afya Care Universal Healthcare Pilot.
Nation Media Group has also launched mobile App- and text-based platforms to alert their customers of payments made via cashless mobile platforms.