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Small Businesses Can Go Big With Digital Adoption

In India, digitization has surely impacted SMEs but still a minor percentage of the businesses are utilizing it properly. Let's see how SMEs can grow big through digital adoption.
BY Joyjeet Bose
VP - Business Operations, Tata Docomo Business Services
Feb 27,2018

Digital is the new normal. Globally, businesses are fast embracing digital technologies that bring a paradigm shift in their operations. In the last decade, digital disruption has renewed competition, placed innovation at the centre of business strategy, and opened-up new markets. Though mobile, cloud and Big Data are the buzz words today, a gamut of new-age digital tools including M2M, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics is set to be the next set of agility drivers. Together, these tools enable collaborative innovation, continual governance, consolidation of data systems, and upgraded billing and charging.

Indias digital transition is gaining global recognition. While large-scale businesses have been the bellwether of digital transformation in the country, the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are now aggressively pivoting towards digital adoption. The fact that SMEs in India show a 14 percent year-on-year rise in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expenditures underscores their commitment towards digitization. SMEs in India have realized that going digital will enable them to increase efficiency, add value to their offering, and lead to exponential growth in business.

The digital divide between SMEs and large corporations is now getting bridged with the steady advancement of the former towards digital adoption. A crucial factor in this transition is IT companies which not only help digital transition but also drive SMEs towards double-digit growth. Take, for instance, the jewellery industry in Kerala. Some of the most prominent business houses which commenced operations as small jewellery businesses have now effectively deployed ICT solutions and expanded their presence to explore the vast customer base across the country.

This is just the beginning for the countrys SME sector which is projected to grow by leaps and bounds. The growth of the SME sector will further accelerate the overall development of the nation. According to Ernst Young, Indian SME sectors contribution to the countrys gross domestic product is expected to increase to 22 per cent in 2020. It makes immense business sense for the SMEs to go digital for they employ a significant portion of the countrys workforce and contribute majorly to the manufacturing output.

Though SMEs are open to the idea of going digital, their usage and access to quality and latest technology solutions are limited. A recent report by KPMG says that 63 percent of SMEs still functions offline, using traditional methods and legacy tools.

Major hurdles in SMEs digital transition include budgetary constraint, and a lack of adequate understanding and guidance on the manner technology can be integrated into their businesses. Shortage of skilled manpower to manage technology setups is another constraint that needs attention. However, no barrier is big enough to stop innovation and dedication.

Smart interventions like deployment of scalable and reliable connectivity solutions can help SMEs easily tide over these barriers. Digitisation has a major impact on small businesses as it has provided them space where networking is much easier than before. There are online platforms where small businesses can find the respective connection to get their work done. It is a high time that everyone realizes that digitization is bringing SMEs in the big league now.

Given the high growth rate and rising contribution to GDP, it is evident that the future belongs to SMEs. Being a part of the ongoing digital renaissance is the key for the SMEs to unlock immense opportunities and conquer unchartered territories. After all, the mantra today is go digital or go home.

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