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Secure Connectivity Will Be the New Growth Strategy for SMEs

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Singapore's march toward becoming a Smart Nation remained one of the key themes of Budget 2019, which saw measures introduced to help local firms build deeper digital capabilities and solutions. Even though three in five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore admit that cybersecurity breaches have resulted in business disruptions and data leaks over a 12-month period, they have been slow to take up cyber-protection measures compared to their larger multinational corporation counterparts.

This is surprising to note given a recent survey by QBE found that SMEs have high rates of awareness of government support for cyber protection measures and other digitalization offerings.

Meanwhile, across the span of just the last two years, we have seen security breaches impact organizations across the globe, impacting revenue and brand reputation. According to analysis from Microsoft and Frost & Sullivan, a single data breach could set a large organization in APAC back by USD 30 million.

Imagine the repercussions a similar breach will have on small and medium enterprises.

As Singapore’s growth driversSMEs employ about 72% of the workforce and constitute 99% of all enterprises locally in 2018 alone—this is an especially pressing concern.

Empowering Lean IT Teams
While it’s no secret that the journey toward digitalization requires significant commitment across all business sizes—SMEs face other barriers to entry, including an IT knowledge gap and lack understanding of digital solutions as a revenue generator instead of simply being another cost center. Furthermore, businesses of all sizes also need to compete for IT talent capable of digitalizing and innovating to address the speed of the global economy.

Yet, in an always-on economy, courtesy of ubiquitous mobile devices and cloud-based applications, SMEs cannot afford to not deliver on experiences that users—both internal and external—have grown accustomed to. How employees engage with customers and business processes are highly dependent on the capabilities of the rapidly evolving network infrastructure, which is seen increasingly as a strategic enabler.

SMEs need to go beyond dipping their toes advancing the growing needs of their digital workplace in piecemeal fashion and regard it for what it is—a long-term revenue and productivity driver.

To address some of these deficits, SMEs need to empower their lean IT teams through automation and the promise of ultra-reliable, flexible and affordable cloud solutions as part of the broader industry transformation that is taking place globally.

Flexible managed service options, for example, represent a significant opportunity for organizations to enjoy pay-as-you-go solutions, which are ideal for SMEs. In fact, IDC estimates that the cloud-managed Wi-Fi infrastructure and services market will reach $3.3 billion by 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% from 2015 through 2020.

From my point of view, the timing is ripe for SMEs to consider managed services, where cloud-based services have matured enough for organizations to enjoy the best of both worlds: on-premises or managed services options. These choices allow businesses to scale easily, while operating on a secure, enterprise-grade network that has been designed to lower the learning curve for lean IT teams.

In an innovation-obsessed business environment, SMEs are better positioned than ever to compete against global goliaths. It may seem daunting for one-man IT teams to tackle the growing demands of the business, but with the help of a strategic technology partner to make security operations seamless and aligned to the rhythm of the business, driving innovation has never been simpler.