New Delhi [India], March 31 (ANI/Mediawire): The tech revolution is unleashing limitless potential for small and medium enterprises in India, and fostering a robust start-up ecosystem.
The unprecedented effects of the global pandemic on small businesses have presented an array of challenges. While some had to cease operations temporarily, others have shown resilience and creativity in their efforts to pivot their business models and find new ways to reach their customers. Ultimately, those who have been able to reimagine and adapt their strategies were likely to find long-term success.
For many small businesses, the need to remain connected with customers has led to the adoption of a more digital business approach.
Speaking at the Delhi edition of Times Techies Tech Drive, Ajay Sahgal, Executive Director, Commercial Business, Lenovo said "each and every industry is trying to understand how to be connected to their asset. Even if you are from a manufacturing unit, the machines need to be connected through which they can see their productivity. They need to track their downtime and do the proactive maintenance."
Recently-held summit in Delhi NCR, which had the who's who of industry in attendance, is part of Lenovo IT4SMB initiative. The keynote address was by Rajesh Magow, Co-founder and Group CEO, MakeMyTrip who made a case for technology-led solutions in customer experience. Mr Magow said, "Technology has evolved significantly. What is important to stay relevant in the leadership position is to continuously keep improving customer experience. We have seen customer experience powered by technology has evolved and improved significantly in the last few years. This has given the power in the hands of the consumer."
Future business models enabled by connectivity
Advancements in mobile networks, tools, and devices have led to the creation of robust digital business models. These models would not be possible without the required connectivity, analytics, applications, security, and personalization for a wide variety of use cases.
The onset of the pandemic has allowed small businesses to tap into the advantages of online ordering, which is known for its flexibility, immediacy, and cost-effectiveness. Through digital transformation, small business owners can identify and capitalize on new opportunities while being able to keep up with the ever-changing needs of their customers. By leveraging digital connectivity, even modestly sized businesses are able to find success in a competitive landscape traditionally dominated by larger corporations.
Providing a big-picture perspective on the transformational power of technology, Debjani Ghosh, President, nasscom said, ""When you apply the technology lens to some of the critical challenges faced by the humanity like climate change crises, food, or water crises, you realise that for the first time you have the power in your hands, to solve for some of these biggest challenges. We didn't have that before."
SMBs, which till now have been late adopters of technology, have also realised the business impact of deploying customised business tools that can prove to be game changers.
Ease of working drives growth
Start-ups, known for their agility and innovation, benefit from a testing ground for their products and services, making SMBs the perfect partner for their venture. With technology solutions becoming more accessible and cost-effective, SMBs that were previously hesitant to invest in such initiatives are now aligning with start-ups to take advantage of the knowledge and resources at an affordable price.
"For a start-up ecosystem, a lot of experiments need to happen at times, and you are not sure if you are going to scale this up really fast. To do so yourself, you would need to physically buy hardware and manage your data centres. In comparison, working on cloud technology is an easier plug and play," said Praful Poddar, Chief Product Officer, Shiprocket.
According to the National Sample Survey (NSS), as of 2015-16, Udyam, a government-run portal designed to register MSMEs, had 8.4 million entities registered, while 63.4 million unincorporated non-agricultural MSMEs existed in the country. And tapping into the power of technology will allow these millions of businesses to scale up in a short span of time. In fact, cloud is one of the key focus areas for most SMBs. "If you want to scale, earlier you could do by adding more people. Today this is an unviable model. If you want to be profitable, you need to be able to collect data and use technology extensively," said Marut Singh Chief Technology Officer, Cars24.
While Gaurav Bagga, SVP, Product and Engineering, Pristyn Care elaborated, "the managed services aspect that cloud provides, is much faster, and is highly available. The security aspect is also there which adds up a lot of advantages. When you try to do these things yourself at a data centre, the challenges would add up a lot more cost."
As per a study conducted by NeoGrowth, labeled 'Digital Adoption Trends Among SMBs', around two-thirds of SMBs have made their switch to online sales. The most popular online platforms used for customer discovery are Google Business (35%), as well as combined usage of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram (20%).
A study conducted by the U.K. Sinha-headed committee for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in June 2021 revealed an overall credit gap facing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) of around Rs 20-25 lakh crore, while a separate International Finance Corporation (IFC) survey estimated it to be in the region of Rs 25.8 lakh crore. Fintech start-ups are making a notable contribution to bridge this deficit.
Although technological advances are assisting conventional small businesses to escape from the physical confines of traditional retail stores, they still do not attract equal levels of venture capital (VC) funding as those of their tech-first peers. The inability of SMBs to access long-term private capital remains a consistent issue. Technology could provide solutions in this domain as well.
The summit culminated with the IT4SMB awards ceremony. The jury comprised of Satyavrat Mishra, Head Corporate IT, Godrej Industries, Amit Saluja, Senior Director and Head NASSCOM, Gandhinagar, Abhay Bapna AVP IT, Adani Wilmar and Manoj Chugh, an IT veteran.
There were a total of 11 awards given in six categories. In the emerging SMB category, Q2 Power was adjudged as the winner, while Chqbook was adjudged as the first runner up and Loconav as the second runner up. In the small sized business category, Lal10 was adjudged as the winner, while B L Lifesciences was declared the first runner up and Instantpay as the second runner up. Shiprocket was declared the winner in the mid- sized business category, and Marengo Asia Healthcare as the runner up. Enerture Learnings was adjudged as the SMB leader of the year and BBB Technologies was the runner up in the same category. Kusum Healthcare was adjuded as the SMB CTO of the year. The jury special award was given to Sanskrit E Solutions and Services.
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