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Opinion

5 things SMBs should look for when considering business apps

Kehinde Ogundare

By Kehinde Ogundare, Country Head – Nigeria, Zoho Corp.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the lifeblood of the Nigerian economy. According to figures released last year by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), SMBs account for around 48% of Nigeria’s GDP. Additionally, they account for 96% of all businesses and 84% of employment.

To reach their full potential, SMBs must leverage effective business-enabling technology, including solutions for CX, finance, HR and employee productivity. However, it’s important to remember that not every business app is equal. It is essential for businesses to carefully select the apps they utilise, whether opting for a mix of best-of-breed solutions from various vendors or choosing to deploy a unified suite from a single vendor who offers end-to-end business solutions for all needs.

While there are no universal rules for what kind of app will suit a company best, there are a few guidelines that businesses can consider to ensure that they choose apps that are best suited to their business needs.

  1. The app should have a single source of truth (to avoid data silos)

Even small businesses have data accruing from a variety of sources. This data can be incredibly valuable, helping the business make decisions about where it’s performing best and which areas it needs to work on. However, that can only happen if the app (or suite of apps) provides a single source of truth (SSOT). An SSOT aggregates data from across the organisation to a single location. This allows the business to make decisions based on a consolidated view of what’s happening across departments rather than trying to pick through individual data silos.

  1. Check how well the solution scales

The goal of any business is to grow, and ideally, the chosen apps should evolve alongside it. However, many of the solutions marketed to SMBs lack scalability. Scalability isn’t just about adaptable pricing tiers; it also means that they should have a demonstrable track record of working with businesses of various sizes and providing them with the offerings they need to facilitate their growth.

  1. Security

If you’re a small business, you might think that security doesn’t need to be a major concern. After all, how much value is a cyber-criminal going to get out of your business? But it’s high time SMBs prioritise cybersecurity. To understand why, you only need to look at the fact that Nigerian SMEs are among the biggest targets of cybercrime. The breaches that result from this criminal activity don’t just have a financial cost attached to them but can also do massive reputational damage, something which no small business can afford to bear. This is why it’s paramount to ensure that the app chosen complies with local data protection guidelines or regulations and will protect the data of the customers who trust you with their information.

  1. Ease of use

If you’re running an SMB, it’s likely your team is small but wears many hats. Hence, it’s vital to ensure that any business app or suite of apps you select is user-friendly, especially for non-technical staff. Opting for easy-to-use apps has long-term benefits. As your business expands, seamless onboarding becomes crucial. The right app(s) significantly reduce training needs, enabling new employees to be productive team members from day one.

  1. Customer support

Regardless of how easy an app is to use, there will be occasions when additional support is needed. The app provider should ensure support for customer businesses across a diverse range of channels for their convenience. From onboarding new customers to attending to queries, businesses should also evaluate how effective the vendor is with post-sales support.

Always aim for integration

Beyond the level of strategic impact that an app or a platform can bring to your business, another aspect to consider is how well the chosen app can integrate into your existing tech ecosystem. Ideally, the app should be built to accommodate integration, capability extension, and customisation needs in order to truly serve a business’ needs. When the app ticks the checklist discussed above, the ROI it can provide your business can be multifold.

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