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Power to the employees

Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa look enviously at the technology solutions that their larger competitors and peers have in place, believing that these enterprise-class solutions are too expensive and complex for them. However, according to RIM, these smaller companies are in a better position to deploy these technologies.

‚SMEs are often flexible, entrepreneurial, and unhindered by legacy systems. As a result, they can often adopt powerful technology solutions without the massive business process reengineering, training and integration exercises that larger companies need to go through,‚ says Deon Liebenberg, Regional Director for Sub-Sahara Africa at Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution.

One example of a technology that can make an enormous difference to a SME’s business is enterprise mobility. SMEs already depend on cellphones to run their businesses, so adopting smartphones and mobile solutions is the logical next step.

‚Smartphones, coupled with a mobile platform like the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution, allow users to keep up to date with their emails, surf the Internet and use their phones for business and personal applications,‚ says Liebenberg. ‚They can access corporate data such as price lists wherever they are, send and receive emails, and access personal applications – all from one device.‚

This technology is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible to businesses of all sizes.

For example, RIM recently introduced BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express – free new server software that wirelessly and securely synchronises BlackBerry smartphones with Microsoft Exchange (2010, 2007 and 2003) or Microsoft Windows Small Business Server (2008 and 2003).

‚The new BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express software can be downloaded for free from the website and provides users with secure, push-based, wireless access to email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks, as well as other business applications and enterprise systems behind the firewall,‚ says Liebenberg. ‚It’s a cost-effective solution that allows companies of all sizes to support enterprise-grade mobile connectivity for all employees without compromising security or manageability.‚

With BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express connected to Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to:

– Wirelessly synchronise their email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks:

– Manage email folders and search email on the mail server remotely:

– Book meetings and appointments, check availability and forward calendar attachments:

– Set an out-of-office reply:

– Edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using Documents To Go:

– Access files stored on the company network: and

– Use mobile applications to access business systems behind the firewall.

Many small business owners run a tight ship and don’t even employ a receptionist or secretary, meaning that multitasking is a key trait of a SME’s business. Responding to a customer’s email, seeking a quote, from a smartphone immediately rather than hours later could spell the difference between securing or losing the piece of business.

‚Enterprise mobility solutions allow small businesses to improve turnaround times, boost customer service and increase productivity by enabling mobile workers to stay in touch with the office wherever they are,‚ concludes Liebenberg.

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