Technology is a growth catalyst for SMEs

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Nov 13, 2016

Mumbai: Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) often stay away from investing in technology due to the fear of high investments, and thus something that can give them a competitive advantage turns into the last priority.

In an interactive panel discussion, panelists at the Surge conference in Pune organised by BusinessLinediscussed how technology can help SMEs expand their business.

Kicking off the discussion, Santanu Dutt, Head of Solutions Architecture (West of India) with Amazon Web Services, spoke about the importance of experimentation and urged SMEs not to look at only the obvious extensions of their business.

“At Amazon, we were just an online book store. But we realised that the potential of the platform was a lot more,” said Dutt. “We started Amazon Web Services as an experiment and that paid-off really well. Technology today not only provides a platform to enable your business, but also look at new lines of business.” .

“For SMEs, technology can be a growth enabler or a great threat,” said Mukul Mathur, Vice-President, Global Business Partners and CSI, IBM India/South Asia. He said that technology can help in business growth. The lack of it could help a competitor to completely destroy. “You could now look at the technology not from the point of investing heavily, but can spend in byte size pieces, and if you fail, it will help you to move on immediately,” .

To improve customer service, Sanjiv Mahesh, Director, sales consulting, Oracle India CX, suggested that organisations need to better understand the customer. “Customer experience tools, which are an extension of customer relationship management solutions, can help you to achieve it,” Mahesh said.

“You need to know your customer extremely well. For example, for a hotel, it would mean knowing if the customer likes a hard pillow or a soft one, or if they prefer a pool-facing room or garden-facing one –– and keeping that ready even before the customer enters. Tracking such information through CRX solutions can help you retain existing customers and build loyalty,” Mahesh said.

With limited budgets, it is difficult for SMEs to decide on which technologies they could invest in.

Talking about the solution for this conundrum, Manoj Joshi, Head, Western Region, Cisco said: “It is often very hard to decide where to spend and what to prioritise when it comes to IT spending. The use of the cloud or rental model allows SMEs to try out different technologies without the fear of a lock-in.”

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