Growth & Jobs | Technology key for SMEs to survive amid restrictions
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of technology to business survival, and has been proven to be key in assisting with the delivery of quality services when face-to-face interactions are constrained.
Kathryn Chin See, lead research analyst in innovation at MC Systems, a member company of The Jamaica National Group, stated that technology is not a gimmick or just for show. It is a necessity for small businesses to navigate and efficiently compete in the current global context.
“In this era in which we live and operate, called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology is not only a phenomenon, but a necessity for all forms of activity. The future of any business is digital. Therefore, small businesses must embrace technology and innovation in their processes to remain relevant and competitive,” she said.
Chin See stated that this means going beyond a well-designed customer interface, such as a website, or an online form, or setting up social media pages, and providing Wi-Fi access to customers.
“It is crucial that technology becomes a part of the business strategy and operations to drive efficiency and make the business future-proof. Technology defines value to customers, creating that competitive edge, and plays a role in driving customer satisfaction and profitability,” she added.
Citing some of the digital technologies that small businesses can leverage to facilitate growth, Chin See said that this includes ‘cloud computing’, sometimes referred to as ‘infrastructure’, as a service. She said that this offers hosted services for storage and business applications.
“This contrasts with the typical need for expensive physical hardware and the costs associated with maintaining the systems. These services are usually subscription-based, which means that businesses pay for only what they need, at an affordable cost per usage unit, from service providers such as Microsoft,” she explained.
She also noted that payroll, accounting, and other office-productivity software, which would normally carry large licensing fees, are also available on hosted/cloud platforms as software, and a service.
“Here at MC Systems, we offer our payroll software BizPay Central as a tiered subscription service to satisfy varying business sizes and budgets,” she added.
Nordia McKoy, manager at Therapy Plus, is a testament to the benefits of BizPay Central to her business operations, noting that although her small company employed an accountant to manage its payroll, it was sometimes still late each month.
Therapy Plus is a therapy and remedial extra-lesson centre, operating in Kingston and Montego Bay, that employs 23 persons. The company provides therapy for children with autism and has been in operation for more than 20 years.
McKoy said that since her company acquired the BizPay Central payroll system, things have become much easier, noting that the system is fast, efficient, and allows for increased transparency in the operation of business.
BizPay Central is an Internet-based payroll processing application that allows companies to enter all relevant data for their employees, process periodic payrolls, and generate reports via a web browser. Reports can be viewed onscreen, saved as PDF, Microsoft Excel documents, or printed. Pay slips can also be emailed to employees directly from the system.
Access to BizPay Central is also one of the unique benefits of having a JN Bank Visa Infinite Business Credit Card. The JN Bank Visa Infinite business credit card provides business owners with easy access to low-interest, secured, or unsecured funding, as well as interest-free credit up to 51 days, plus all the benefits of Visa.
But unlike other cards, it provides companies and business owners with access to business-efficiency services, such as mobility services from the Jamaica Automobile Association; and payroll services, through BizPay Central.
“Now, since BizPay Central, staff is paid on time,” she asserted. “I’m also able to know what the deductions will be each month, and I can put together a proper budget. Before, we were not sure what our statistics would look like each month in terms of our overall gross pay-out. But with BizPay Central, we know what our expenses and payroll will look like. Therefore, this also allows us to plan ahead,” she said.
She further noted that the use of the BizPay Cash app has also been an added bonus because the reality is that “things happen”, and employees will sometimes need emergency funds right now.
Employees can use the BizPay Cash app to apply for staff loans, and the approved funds can be in their bank accounts in five minutes.
“And the fact that it is automatically generated makes it even better, so I don’t really have to do much,” McKoy explained.
The Therapy Plus manager said she would definitely recommend BizPay Central to other small businesses because “let’s say you can’t afford to hire someone to do your payroll, it is something you can do on your own. Spend 15 or 20 minutes out of your day, and do what you need to do and get abreast as to what is happening,” she stated.
Chad Gordon, commercial manager for payroll solutions, stated that the objective of BizPay Central is to make life easier for business owners.
“We understand the challenges associated with processing payroll, and the BizPay Central payroll system removes several of the pain points your accounting department or functionaries now endure,” he stated.
He also noted that the system allows businesses to process payrolls far more efficiently and accurately, anywhere, anytime.