Firm bets big on cloud computing

MUTHOKI MUMO | Daily Nation

A firm is banking on cloud computing to break into the business world. Barely three months old, Open Business says the future is bright even as other companies brace for tough economic times.

“SMEs don’t have the necessary funds or time to spend building sophisticated data storage systems as well as execute their core business. This is why we end up seeing a lot of disorganisation in how they keep their records,” said the company’s chief executive and founder, Ms Dorcas Muthoni.

Cloud computing has been a buzz word in technology and management circles for a while now.

Audit firm, Deloitte, listed hybrid cloud computing as one of its hot trends for 2012 while technology research firm, Gartner, has published various reports exploring the topic.

It has been pictured as a solution for big businesses that deal with huge volumes of data that cannot necessarily be housed in one server room.

According to Ms Muthoni, this view is flawed. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), she said, need cloud computing just as much, if not more, than any blue-chip firm. It is this gap that Open Business is trying to fill.

The company offers a range of services hosted on the cloud, helping SMEs to get rid of the mountains of paper work involved in managing human resource records, say, payrolls.

The services also allow a company to make automatic tax, health insurance, and social security deductions on their staff’s salary. Going forward, the firm hopes that it will be able to provide automatic remission of these deductions to the government.

According to Ms Muthoni, having these records online helps SMEs maintain a sense of continuity in their trade.

“Most small companies are forced to go back to scratch whenever an employee leaves the company with certain important records,” she said.

SMEs contribute over 65 per cent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Of late, there has been a push from local financial institutions and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to have these businesses formalised.

Meticulous record-keeping is part of this process and companies such as Open Business that target SMEs with low-priced management and organisation services may just strike gold.

Gartner indicates that cloud computing could be a Sh12.75 trillion ($150 billion) business by 2014.

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