South African mid-market companies – those with fewer than a thousand employees – are primarily focused on overcoming the many challenges in the way of accelerated growth, especially as we move into the first full post-pandemic financial year since 2019.
While studies show that most mid-market employees have a desire to be productive by performing the core tasks of their job, they are restricted in doing so by tedious processes and lack of workplace automation. At the same time, our own research across Europe and Africa shows that 95% of financial decision makers in mid-market companies are implementing technology that makes processes and operations more efficient.
The disconnect is not a lack of will or misalignment of priorities between the different stakeholders, but rather it is the cumulative result of the many challenges these companies face in pushing on with their growth objectives.
While mid-market companies are quicker and more agile to change, with fewer people to account for and less waiting for committees to drive action, the reality not only in South Africa but globally is that inflationary pressures are driving costs up, which affects companies’ ability to fund operational model transformation.
Mid-market companies also tend to be made up of generalists working across different projects, rather than groups of people dedicated to specific tasks, but these smaller teams of generalists leave little room for in-house expertise to manage IT infrastructure. As such, mid-market companies need IT solutions that are quicker and less challenging to implement, and are easy to operate and maintain.
Specialised talent to implement these solutions is also in short supply. Such talent is difficult to attract, and even when the right people are hired, they often have their heads turned by lucrative offers from enterprise-scale companies. Many companies therefore lack the required capabilities and skills within the organisation to properly procure and implement the necessary workplace automation, management and workflow solutions they need.
Unlock growth potential
All that said, there are numerous ways decision makers can unlock the growth potential of their companies in the coming year. For starters, they need to drive organisational transformation by standardising operations across multiple locations, maintain employee engagement within the context of dynamic working, improve the end-user experience of their products and services, and remove overlap and duplication of IT solutions.
Doing so will require them to plug the resource gap and acquire necessary capabilities – which is where outsourcing and managed services from trusted suppliers come in to play. They’ll also need to access real-time data and analytical capabilities to inform better business decisions, and they’ll need to find ways to overcome the current mix of paper and manual information, different systems and dispersed information, which together act a barrier to profitability and growth.
Ultimately, the key to unlocking sustainable business growth in this highly competitive market space is through implementing technology solutions that scale cost effectively, empower employees, improve customer experience and drive customer retention.
The hard part is doing it without having the capital reserves and in-house skills of larger organisations, which is why going it alone is not ideal. Finding partners with the necessary expertise in process automation, workplace optimisation and managed services for scalable IT infrastructure is just as important as implementing the technology and processes themselves.
The key to unlocking sustainable business growth in this highly competitive market space is through technology solutions…
The right partner should have in-depth knowledge not only of the business needs, but also the specific needs of decision makers and employees. They should also have a complete portfolio of digital services ready to go, preventing the need to mix and match different vendors, technologies and solutions to fit the business. And they should offer full-fledged strategic support to strengthen in-house technical talent, closing the skills gap that’s limiting growth potential.
While there’s no silver bullet for South African mid-market companies wanting to break the shackles that have been holding them back for the past few years, there are many positive steps they can take today to start their transformative journeys. Goodness knows there are still significant challenges ahead – power constraints, skills shortages and hybrid workplaces, to name a few. Given the right tools, advice and strategic support, however, all of these can be overcome. However, time is of the essence.
For more information, visit www.ricoh-europe.com.
Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services that enable individuals to work smarter from anywhere. With cultivated knowledge and organisational capabilities nurtured over its 85-year history, Ricoh is a leading provider of digital services, information management, and print and imaging solutions designed to support digital transformation and optimise business performance.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group has major operations throughout the world and its products and services now reach customers in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2022, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of about US$14.5-billion.
- The author, Jolene Castelyn, is marketing executive, Ricoh South Africa
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