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Digitisation technologies you should know

Digitalisation in SMEs: Technologies you should know!

Digitalisation in SMEs is supported by many innovative technologies, such as cloud computing or Virtual Private Network (VPN).

We present five important applications that you should definitely know about and that help you with the digital transformation to optimise internal processes, achieve more efficiency, reduce costs or even make better and often faster decisions.

1. cloud computing

2. IoT (Internet of Things)

3. virtual private network (VPN)

4. SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking)

5. analytics (data analysis)

Today, no company can avoid digitalisation - this also applies to SMEs. Many still think that digital transformation is something abstract that smaller businesses have nothing to do with. Unfortunately, this is not true. What does digitalisation actually mean? It is anything but an abstract concept, but something very practical and closely linked to certain technologies. And you should use them in your own interest. Each SME must decide for itself which technologies are necessary in the respective business environment - and which to do without.

1. cloud computing

Cloud computing shifts IT resources such as server or software services to IT service providers. These resources no longer have to be kept in the company's own data centre, but can be obtained as a service such as electricity. For this purpose, public cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google or Amazon provide standardised software and infrastructure services on their publicly accessible cloud servers via an internet connection. The central benefit of public cloud services is that companies can access IT resources very quickly, very flexibly and very cheaply.

This can be additional computing and storage capacity within the framework of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) - for example for document management. Or as SaaS (Software as a Service) the use of text, spreadsheet or presentation programmes. Business services such as ERP, CRM and DMS systems are also offered. In the context of digitalisation, Swiss SMEs benefit greatly from public cloud services for collaboration and mobile data access.

2. IoT (Internet of Things)

IoT networks objects of daily life and industrial production such as machines, workpieces or means of transport. IoT-based devices are equipped with microprocessors, RFID radio chips or QR codes and can exchange data and communicate with each other. Scanners and computers read the data, transmit it online - and ensure that the devices act correctly.

IoT thus makes it possible for objects such as cars, machines or refrigerators to independently exchange information and interact with each other and with people. For example, they can negotiate in dialogue which machine will take over the assembly of a component. IoT also makes it possible for a machine to independently register when it has problems and take measures to repair it, for example. Even very simple IoT applications can bring a lot of benefits: Sensors can, for example, track when and how a product is used, where certain freight packages are at the moment or how the utilisation or status of vehicles is during their use.

3. VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN connects networks via secure, encrypted connections. The connections are usually established via the internet. The communication of the participants within a VPN is comparable to the communication in a local network. Since the data packets on the way between sender and recipient cannot be seen due to the encryption, but are generally only readable at the starting and end points of the transmission, this is also referred to as a "VPN tunnel".

Companies often use VPN access to integrate employees into the company network via the Internet. Home offices, for example, can be integrated into the company network in such a way that it no longer makes a difference to employees whether they are in the company or at another location. To access a VPN, all that is needed on the local computer is a small programme - the VPN client. This ensures the secure transmission of all data packets.

4. SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking)

With the rise of cloud computing, mobile working and the IoT, high-performance site networking is vital for businesses. Many companies today use SD-WANs for this purpose. They simplify the setup of networks for branch offices and optimise application performance over the internet. SD-WANs are also considered very flexible and inexpensive, and at the same time can be implemented quickly with little effort.

SD-WANs are based on Software-Defined Networking, a concept in which the software services in the network are decoupled from the underlying hardware. This makes it possible for data traffic to be dynamically shifted to different networks and connections, thereby optimising bandwidth. If one connection fails, the traffic can be redirected to other connections. This makes it possible to react quickly in the event of an unplanned change of two or more network services (= failover) and to achieve a high level of fail-safety.

5. Analytics (data analysis)

Data analysis helps SME marketing to extract valuable information from company data. The analysis of data - for example on customer behaviour or social media comments - promises useful insights and provides information for optimising operations and decision-making: Which products, for example, does the shopper put in the shopping basket and in what order? Which goods are bought together? And what hurdles are responsible for purchases suddenly being abandoned?

Answers to such questions are found by analysis tools such as SAP HANA or Hadoop, which can deal with Big Data (= huge masses of data) and evaluate them. Thus, the analysis of data enables companies to create fine-grained population and customer segments and to optimally tailor their goods and services to customer needs. For example, a company can use data analysis to easily find out why customers are churning and then counteract this with targeted measures. Strategic management decisions today are also often based on data analysis.



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