Intranet solutions that allow companies to link their workers through voice, text and video communication are set to play a major role in enterprises’ jostling for a presence in the new regional governments.
Creation of county governments means that small and medium scale enterprises will be required to develop new business relationships, especially for companies that supply goods and services to the public sector.
Counties may also develop different cultures of doing business, hence companies with this knowledge stand a better chance to win deals at the local level.
The biggest challenge, however, will be the cost involved in setting up new offices and employing staff.
It is emerging that companies can reduce expansion costs by utilising various types of software that enable real-time linking of employees within the country or even across the region.
“Intranet software that has options for tele-presence, automated human resource functions, and document sharing solutions can help companies make drastic cost reduction on their budgets while ensuring they have a presence in the new regions,” said Martin Njuguna, the business development manager of Digital Vision East Africa, a software solutions provider.
The software solution comes in handy for companies that will also spend to expand to other East Africa regions, following the formation of the East Africa Common Market earlier in the year.
Companies will need to create new relationships in the counties because the new entities will have their own governments that will need goods and services independent of the central government.
Businesses executives also see having a local presence as a “must do” to enable winning contracts to supply goods and services and maintain a healthy business relationship with the private sector and the county governments.
Tailor made services
Eagle Africa Insurance Brokers is one of the companies that plans to tap into new opportunities offered by county governments.
The company is among those that have started decentralising their operations to offer tailor made services to counties.
“We have zoned our operations into four, covering all the main parts of the country,” said Sam Ncheeri, the managing director of Eagle Insurance Brokers.
Mr Njuguna of Digital Vision East Africa said intranet solutions are being developed with improved features that make it easier for companies to set satellite branches, without need to recruit more staff, and ensure that staff members in the branch offices are networked in real-time to the head office.
Digital Vision is the regional distributor of Bitrix Intranet Solution, an intranet solution that includes task and project management, media sharing capabilities, mail and active directory.
“It is for small and medium-sized businesses designed for effective collaboration, communication, social networking, workflow and knowledge management,” said Mr Njuguna.
“The product enables increased employee productivity, smoother internal operations and capitalisation on the social dimension of your organisation by introducing creative communities.”
Companies are also using intranet solutions to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide — the global warming causing agent — through reducing staff travel. The online communication also helps companies to reduce the use of printing paper.
Kenya Commercial Bank, for instance, will implement an intranet project next year that will include solutions like tele-presence to facilitate communication within its branch networks in East Africa to cut on the cost of travel and improve communication by using online digital solutions, said the company’s director of Corporate Affairs Kepha Bosire.
Caleb Ochieng, the managing director of DigiConnect East Africa, said small and medium companies have a great opportunity to have a presence in the regions without exhausting their money on hiring new staff or investing in expansive offices.
“Tele-presence, for instance, makes it easy for workers in Nairobi and Wajir to communicate as if they are next to each other,” he said.
A good intranet network, experts said, must have functions that ease communication within staff members and offer additional solutions including training and development tools for staff members such as online courses, tools to promote corporate culture, leave information, absence calendar and charts.
Other solutions include a workflow system that enables document approval, enabling discussions on documents and assigning access rights, scheduling of events and meetings including alerts, and tools to create and manage personal and group tasks.