As we stand at the cusp of Industry 4.0, adoption of technology is the key differentiator in determining the success of SMEs. Mahendra Tiwari, General Manager, SME Operations, Tata Teleservices Ltd. decodes this aspect with relevant insights.
Until a few years ago, although the SMEs had recognized technology as the key growth driver, the rate of technology adoption was still low. The cause could be attributed to poor availability and adoption of technology. Identifying these loopholes, many technology enablers surfaced as a support system to the SME ecosystem, aiding them reel through the technological lag they were faced with. These enablers of connectivity, collaboration, cloud, security, IoT and marketing solutions fulfilled the 3As (Availability, Adaptability and Acceptability), the much-needed support in the fledgling start-up ecosystem.
The SMEs in India are confronted by some glaring challenges such as shortage of working capital, increasing domestic and global competition, minimal scale of operations, lack of skilled manpower, change in manufacturing strategies and most importantly integrating technology into customer’s life. In order to counter such issues; stay relevant and profitable and take on its large, global counterparts, vying for the top spot, SMEs need to adopt innovative approaches in their operations.
One such progressive approach has been partnering with tech enablers and subject matter experts to bring SMEs at par with the fast-evolving tech landscape. Advancements in technology are opening up newer avenues for SME businesses across sectors and are playing a pivotal role in its growth and development in India.
The question is what are these ground-breaking technologies and how are these technologies aiding SMEs in their growth. Answering the first question, technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), M2M, are revolutionizing automation, operational excellence, product development, cost efficiency etc.
IoT offers numerous and incredible opportunities to SMEs. Being a giant network of things and people, communicating with each other using various wired and wireless technologies, IoT platforms collect data from different devices and applies analytics to the collected data. The analysed data gives the most valuable and actionable information to work upon. Marketers can draw insightful information on their customer’s buying behaviour and browsing history, which could be used to better their customer service and customise their marketing strategies based on the needs of their customers. Basically, these advancements led organizations to re-imagine customer service and their journey with a brand. Additionally, IoT could be very useful in monitoring, tracking expiration date of products and most importantly it helps save money, because IoT makes all of the above possible, without human intervention.
Similarly, technologies such as M2M (Machine 2 Machine) allow more control over assets and enables remote surveillance and reduction in operational expenses. However, its greatest benefit to SMEs is business analytics, forecasting and exploration, predictive modelling, accident-related incident and security through proactive alerts and faster reaction time to theft and pilferage.
Technology for growth
Yet another technology marvel is Cloud computing platforms and applications. A lot of new-age digital businesses are increasingly investing in Cloud Infrastructure and the trend is proliferating across enterprises today. This trend reflects the continuously maturing global market for cloud services, with established capabilities to scale and accelerate and most importantly provide the security to support new business models. Led by the benefits of investing in cloud infrastructure, the c-suite executive of various organizations are creating compelling business cases that rely on cloud platforms to catapult growth, which further boosts the adaptability and acceptability of this technology.
While these are just a few examples of some technologies and their impact on SMEs, there are various other technologies like Robotics and Automation, which are substantially transforming SME businesses in India. Therefore, it is evident that disruptive technologies are aiding SMEs to forge their way to newer heights. Embracing technology is aiding SMEs to spur growth by achieving better return on investments, cost efficiency, creating quality products or services and offering superior customer experience.
Apart from driving growth and profitability, companies are also using technology to diversify their business and are launching digital products that complement their traditional products. For example, a sports apparel brand started selling digital gadgets that can track a user’s workout regime.
Nonetheless, in view of the evolving business landscape in India, companies of all sizes have started taking initiatives towards a digital makeover. As per recent industry estimate 75% of businesses will be digital in order to stay relevant and profitable by the year 2020 with almost half of the revenues of a digitally transformed company will be driven by technology.
Discussions and decisions around ICT are no more limited to IT departments, as they increasingly become a part of boardroom conversations. This change in attitude towards technology comes from the realisation that technology not only cuts cost, enables more efficient business operations, but also re-imagine their customer’s journey.