The SME sector in India contributes 45 per cent of manufacturing output, 40 per cent of exports and is likely to contribute upto 20 per cent of India's GDP by 2020. The Digital India initiative by the Modi government will lead to greater adoption of technology by this sector. Numerous reports suggest a strong link between technology adoption and Small and Medium Businesses' (SMBs) growth. There are many areas in which technology adoption by SMBs can enable their growth.
Digital technology can help SMBs differentiate themselves in the market thus enabling them to make a new offering or offer an existing product or service in a newer way. This translates into using Artificial Intelligence or AI for greater customer interaction, the Internet of Things or IOT to create newer business offerings, robotics to increase plant output and efficiency, analytics and data to determine consumer trends, and cloud for reducing capital expenditure (capex).
Here are a few metrics that SMBs can directly impact by adopting technology solutions:
1) Increasing productivity: Management Information Systems or MIS help in laying the ground for tracking information and ensuring their access to different staffers. This ensures an office free of excessive paperwork and allows for seamless transfer of information to different departments which allows for better decision making and analyses. When information is organised, accessible and can be well utilised, it leads to greater efficiency.
2) Customer outreach: Chatbots and auto answering systems enable companies to expedite consumer complaint redressal and handle millions of queries within minutes. This sensitivity to customer requirements help companies build customer loyalty while improving their bottomlines. Handling queries and complaints in real time reduces customer feedback and timelag thus making organisational response more proactive.
3) Data security & Operational agility: Cloud enables SMEs to be operators of valuable and expensive assets owned by an external provider. This enables them to achieve their goals faster and helps them drive further growth. Some of the benefits that companies can incur by moving to the cloud are operational agility, ensuring backup and recovery facilities, automatic software updates, increased collaboration, flexible working perks, collaboration and control over documents, and security of sensitive data.
4) Workforce Mobility: The 2016 Future Workforce Study, conducted by research firm Penn Schoen Berland PSB, polled nearly 4,000 full-time employees from small, medium and large businesses in 10 countries, and exposed that over half (57%) of all employees believed that they will be working in a smart office within the next five years. The research showed that the influx of new technology is having a significant impact on what workers expect from their employer, and that workplaces which don't enact these new advances will be left behind. Around the world, the typical work schedule is being eroded by technology and connectivity. Less than two-thirds of global employees feel they 'can get their work done in a traditional 9-5 schedule' (60 per cent). The private sector is more likely than the public sector to offer flexible hours (58 per cent versus 51 per cent globally), while SMBs outpace large enterprises (60 per cent versus 55 per cent).
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