Aug 7, 2020

Vodacom: transforming SMEs into smart businesses

Vodacom
Technology
SMEs
covid-19
Georgia Wilson
3 min
Africa
Vodacom helps small businesses transform their operations into smart businesses in response to COVID-19...

“Businesses that survive the COVID-19 pandemic should - now more than ever - strive to be a digital-first business, equipped with technology that can bolster collaboration, information sharing and customer engagement,” commented Vodacom in a recent company statement.

With the pandemic highlighting the economic, health and social risks that traditional businesses methods pose, Vodacom details that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are particularly vulnerable to disruption.

“ It is crucial that South Africa’s SMEs can access the ICT communication tools needed to ensure business continuity, as they contribute significantly to employment, provide income for millions of South Africans, and form a key part of our diverse economy,” added Vodacom.

In the last few years, Vodacom Business has focused its efforts on shifting from being ‘just a telco provider’ to being a business that provides end to end technology solutions.

“As a trusted digital partner for businesses, we have always believed that with the right technology and digital processes, South African businesses will be more competitive, resilient, and capable of not only surviving, but thriving, despite external challenges,” commented Vodacom.

In adapting to a new normal due to COVID-19, Vodacom Business has committed to driving the acceleration of digital adoption to support companies. “SMEs are a critical component of our economy. They employ around 10.8 million people and contribute 20% to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Therefore, it is imperative that we provide them with the tools to remain productive and overcome the challenges they face today. The combination of our offerings delivers the benefits of agility, productivity and flexibility,” commented William Mzimba, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business.

To help with the process, Vodacom Business has launched a collection of smart productivity solutions, to provide companies with the capability to securely connect, communicate, collaborate and remain productive. 

“When used together, Smart Productivity Solutions will enable employees to work from virtually anywhere and on almost any device without compromising company and customer information and engagement. These services will enable SMEs with dispersed workforces to operate as efficiently as their larger rivals by creating access to tools and services that have traditionally only been available to larger enterprises,” commented Vodacom.

In order to move forward, Vodacom details that “finding the best strategic business partner is vital, especially if your business has limited experience in a specific area, such as technology. Vodacom Business’ innovative digital solutions take into account best-in-class digital platforms, tools, applications and services as well as Vodacom’s world-class network to ensure a successful digital transformation journey.”

To find out more about Vodacom’s end to end technology solutions, click here!

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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