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Seven benefits of enterprise-grade e-mail for SMEs

Johannesburg, 14 Dec 2021
Read time 5min 30sec
Songezo Masiso, GM: SME and Indirect Channel, MTN Business.
Songezo Masiso, GM: SME and Indirect Channel, MTN Business.

Deploying a professional e-mail solution can make a massive difference for small businesses. Songezo Masiso, GM: SME and Indirect Channel at MTN Business, says: “Initially, SMEs don’t always see the value of having a unique domain name that is their company name, as well as having some collaboration tool with their e-mail.” 

SMEs traditionally start out using free e-mail services, but then wonder why their e-mails end up in spam folders or are blocked from users’ mailboxes. “All too often, free e-mail is blocked as spam and needs to be unblocked.”

Having a custom domain name with your branding and using a proper enterprise grade e-mail platform means that not only will your e-mails not be blocked by spam filters, but it also gives your business that professional image that prospective buyers and partners are looking for. 

This type of e-mail platform traditionally also comes with collaboration tools that provide the SME with the ability to do video conferencing, e-mail storage and archiving and a bigger mailbox than a free platform would give you. If SMEs use a free e-mail platform that doesn’t provide access to applications, they’re going to have to either buy compatible software or download free software and hope for the best.

Masiso says: “We recommend a specific platform because most computer users today understand how to use Outlook, Word, Excel, One Note and Powerpoint as these programs are taught at school. This means that when school leavers are employed by a business, they’re already familiar with some of the tools that they’ll encounter. He goes on to list the primary benefits of investing in a professional e-mail platform:

  1. One of the primary reasons for using an enterprise-grade e-mail platform is to make it easier for users, it offers seamless integration with tools they already know and there’s no need to learn new skills. “The platform will work on any device, from PC to Mac, Android and iPhone, and integrate seamlessly with those devices’ operating systems. Depending on the licence that you buy, users will be able to use the solution online and offline. I recommend that SMEs opt for both capabilities because that will give them online and offline access to their e-mail. While online access may be the cheaper option, it does mean that the user’s device must be connected to the internet to be able to use it.”
  2. Being able to access applications offline means the user doesn’t need to be connected to the internet to work. “You can download the document you want to work with, edit it and upload the updated version when you connect again. This is invaluable for businesses that have sales people or support staff in the field. Anyone who works remotely will appreciate the ability to be able to work on their devices, even if they don’t have connectivity, and be able to upload their documents or spreadsheets when they are connected.”
  3. It’s essential for people within a business to be able to share content – and sometimes files are too large to share over e-mail. A professional e-mail platform will come with a portal that allows users to access, collaborate, read and make changes to documents without having to download them, says Masiso. “The content is housed in a secure location, it is password protected and everyone can view the latest version of each document.”
  4. Another significant tool offered by a professional platform is the ability to share calendars. “This facility means that you can see whether required meeting attendees are available, you can share your contacts and schedule online meetings. Enterprise grade mail platforms also offer instant messaging between participants.”
  5. Another point made by Masiso is that with so many people working from home, security is of the utmost importance to businesses of all sizes. “It’s key that e-mail and documents shared within the business are secured and that its e-mail platform comes with a spam filter, scanning for spam and malware, as a standard feature.” The vast majority of the cyber attacks that have been publicised in the media over the past year have been as a result of an attack via e-mail that a user clicked on, spreading malware throughout the organisation. “The Transnet hack is just one example among many. The biggest threat to security comes from users clicking on links or attachments contained in phishing e-mails. Yes, user education is important, but your e-mail platform needs to have spam and malware filters.”
  6. A huge advantage of an enterprise grade e-mail platform is that deployment doesn’t require specialised IT skills. “Once the platform is set up and deployed, the user can perform their own administrative tasks if they wish. Access to the web-based portal can be provided to certain people in the business, with step-by-step instructions on how to add users, set up accounts, etc. All that’s required is a basic understanding of click, drag and drop.”
  7. This type of e-mail platform comes with a guarantee of almost 100% uptime as they reside in several locations, so if one country – or even continent – goes down, you still have access. They come with disaster recovery, multiple automatic failovers and are designed to deliver reliability, availability and performance. “When you use a free e-mail platform, there’s no such guarantee,” says Masiso.

He ends off by explaining that this type of e-mail platform is, contrary to popular belief, an affordable option for even micro enterprises. “What makes this type of platform affordable is that it’s available on a subscription service, where the SME pays a monthly fee according to the number of users. The subscription is scalable so can be expanded – or contracted – as user numbers and their requirements change. Not all users will require access to all of the applications, so the service is tailored to each business’s unique requirements.”

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