Unpredictable exchange rates and that of innovation are two of the most notable global trends that local IT entrepreneurs need to develop in 2017. This is according to Maria Motau, Managing Member at Ibhubesi Information Technologies and a beneficiary of the Innovator Trust’s Enterprise Development Programme.
“As an entrepreneur, you need to adapt quickly to changes in order to ensure your business succeeds. The best way to do this is to multitask and keep your eye on as many factors as you can,” Motau says. Maria says that markets across the world have experienced volatility in recent years which have resulted in significant fluctuations in exchange rates – and South Africa is no exception. One of the key effects of volatile exchange rates for SMMEs is the relationship between Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and forward cover. Forward cover is a contract where rate of exchange is fixed immediately for future buying or selling. “As entrepreneurs, we are at risk if a proposal has been submitted and are still waiting to be awarded or evaluated, and the exchange rate changes significantly. Realistically, our businesses could have under-quoted,” says Motau.
She says that entrepreneurs should constantly assess their exposure to currency risks and develop a strategy to minimise this, including negotiating better forward cover or looking for local OEMs where possible. The other major global trend South African entrepreneurs should be aware of, is the rapid rate of technology and innovation change. “Not only does your business have to adapt to this rate of change, but you also have to convince your customers to embrace innovation to add value to their operations,” says Motau, “For example, we have generally seen a slow uptake of cloud technology in South Africa but we expect this to change as most sectors are now seeing the potential benefits it can provide.”
She concludes, “Even if your customers are late adopters of technology, you should still incorporate innovation in your own business’s processes in order to keep up with the rate of change in the IT world.”