Verve Digital MD Charlene George. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN – The launch of two Microsoft Azure data centres in South Africa presents opportunities for women entrepreneurs, said Verve Digital MD Charlene George. 

Microsoft opened two data centres in South Africa - in Johannesburg and Cape Town - on 7 March, representing millions of dollars of investment in the country. South Africa also recently participated in the celebration of International Women’s Day, on 8 March. The two, said George, should be positively linked. 

Cloud computing, and the digital transformation that it enables, offers opportunities for entrepreneurs on a number of levels, particularly for women, who, in South Africa, have historically had less access to ICT services than their male counterparts. 

"Too many SMEs in South Africa still do not use the technology services that are available (often freely) to make their businesses more productive and efficient. This prejudices them on a number of levels. Reliance on paper-based processes is slow, cumbersome and inefficient," she said.

"When SME’s understand how they can apply next-generation technologies like analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, collaboration tools and the like, we will see an explosion of innovation to solve global problems like food shortages, waste, water pollution etc," She said.

Having Microsoft data centres located in South Africa offers compliance and speed benefits, as using data centres located offshore raises issues around data location and protection, and the physical distance can result in latency issues. 

What this means for women entrepreneurs is that they can now affordably access the latest cloud technology, and use it both as a platform to offer services, and take advantage of cloud-based services, like Office 365, to run their businesses. 

According to Georges, today’s prospective employee wants to be working with the latest technology and utilising digital tools not only to make their jobs easier, but to enhance and improve their own skill sets.

George founded and launched Verve Digital in a bid to aid local companies in their digitisation journeys, and specialises in the employee experience. 

"When employees are able to perform their jobs well, they feel a sense of achievement at the end of day. Believe it or not, it’s not the free Coke at the bar on a Friday that motivates them,” she says, “it’s the job satisfaction and a sense of achievement, and when they understand how they have contributed to the success of the company. To quote Richard Branson, “Clients do not come first, employees do. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients". 

"In a market where skills are scarce and costs are high, businesses should take advantage of whatever they can to give them the edge in attracting employees and operating more efficiently - like cloud computing," she said. 

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