IT experts urge SMEs to utilise productivity apps and tools during COVID-19


IT experts urge SMEs to utilise productivity apps and tools during COVID-19

Friday, May 15, 2020

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Information technology experts are urging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to utilise productivity software to manage their business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With staff working from home or remotely, businesses are being implored to make use of technology to maintain the channels of proper communication and allow employees to safely and easily access information, while ensuring that they are working as efficiently as if they were in office.

According to Rennex Callaghan, Microsoft Azure Specialist at Intcomex Caribbean, many companies have yet to embrace technology in the workplace.

“Too many companies are relying on paper and more traditional means to store company sensitive information. There are many virtual platforms available to solve this issue especially as teams are working from home, all they would need is Internet access. In considering these options the issue of cost may come into consideration but there are many free options available and businesses should start considering applications like [Microsoft] Azure and PowerApps,” Callaghan was speaking at a webinar recently.

The webinar titled 'How Businesses Manage Temporary Disruptions' featured a panel-like discussion where experts in their respective fields addressed challenges and solutions for businesses in this rapidly changing world of tech.

The Microsoft Azure application solves the need of going to the office or having employees take home sensitive information to work. Azure stores information virtually or in a cloud then allows business owners to grant employees remote access to said information providing that they have Internet access.

Cloud refers to the ability to host a software platform or service from a remote location that can be freely accessed and used anywhere via Internet access.

Microsoft PowerApps also brings with it a level of high security which allows employers to upload sensitive company material without fear of it getting into the wrong hands. They can monitor and have complete control over which of their employees have access and can see company information while working from home/remotely.

Callaghan also recommended Microsoft Teams, which is a solution that allows companies and their employees to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place.

“Teams is a very unique tool that allows you access to not just your employees but your customers as well, especially those who are more used to interacting with you face-to-face,” shared Callaghan. “The best part is they don't need to install anything on their end, all you have to do is send them a link and you're able to connect with your market.”

Other experts also recommended the use of Freemium Solutions for SMEs, where possible, to manage business disruptions.

These are online services or tools that are available free of charge with the condition of limited access to some of its features; most of these limited features are enough for small businesses. However, to access all the features of these tools users would have to pay.

WaveApps is one such financial software which allows businesses to manage their books and accounting information. This is useful for business owners who can no longer go to their offices to balance their books as they can stay home and work while ensuring their affairs are in order.

For businesses who manage multiple online accounts, experts recommended LastPass, a tool which helps in the creation and management of passwords. It also gives business owners control over who has access to these online accounts and limits who can actually see these passwords.

Many software companies, such as Microsoft, have been providing their services free. Microsoft has made its Office 365 (O365) products free for six months. O365 is a suite of tools for productivity, collaboration, videoconferencing, and file management and comes highly recommended by IT experts.

Working remotely or from home is the current reality for businesses for the foreseeable future. While experts strongly recommend that SMEs utilise the technology at hand to manage this they also recommend implementing them as long-term solutions to establish new ways of working post-COVID-19. It may be daunting choosing the right solution and business owners might venture down a road of trying multiple until they find the “right” one, however, IT solutions companies like ResolveIT can help businesses choose tools that are best suited to their needs.

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