Business Analyst and Technical Architect, Logica
Mukesh Rijhwani is a Business Analyst and Technical Architect in the Global Innovation function o... more>>
The SME sector is most likely to have a remarkable year ahead. The following four areas will be the key differentiators
1. Online presence: The recent study conducted by Google Inc revealed that 8 Million SMEs (of total 30 Million) have the potential to do online business. However just 4 lakhs of them have websites. That’s just 5% of the total 8 Million. Some of big IT companies have started programs to get SME business, online. This program, help small business houses by providing free website with free hosting for one full year.
If they meet their targets of putting 5Mn businesses online through this program, it will have a considerable impact on the balance sheets of those businesses.
2. Pay-as-you-use models: The IT industry has come a long way in pioneering this model. Cloud computing is in the fore-front of it. Gone are the days where you need to hire expensive servers and system administrators to enable email communication. Thanks to the likes of Google, Microsoft, etc., now you don’t have to baby-sit your email server you just pay a flat fee to the service providers and they will take care of all your communication needs.
It doesn’t stop at this, Cloud computing offers variety of services like:
• Software-as-a-service (SaaS): For example if you need payroll software, you don’t have to invest upfront in the expensive software licenses, instead you could pay per user basis. The software can ramp up if you need more users and can scale down within a few clicks. You pay only for the usage and not for the expensive hardware, software, updates, etc.
• Infrastructure-as-a-service: Like SaaS, Cloud computing also provides pay per use model for the hardware infrastructure. You start renting a smaller hardware from the Cloud provider and when you need to scale up, just change the configuration and it will be up in a matter of few minutes. There are no problems of physically maintaining the hardware or setting up the data-centre yourself.
• Similarly, offerings like Platform-as-a-service, where the hardware, OS and other essential software are bundled up. It creates a lucrative service for SMEs to host custom software on top of this platform.
• Cloud telephony: One emerging area in Cloud computing is Cloud telephony solutions for the SME segment. These are an emerging breed of innovative technology solutions that combine the power of voice, telephony and web based technologies to allow SMEs to capture and manage all their incoming phone calls, both from prospects as well as existing customers and to automate responses to standard routine queries. Business can now exploit such capabilities without making any upfront investments in telephone lines, Epabx, IVR and other related hardware and software. Moreover, it saves SMEs money and resources on ongoing maintenance and enhancement of such software and equipment.
3. Machine to machine (M2M) communication: Almost all SMEs carry out similar activities. Most common of them are tracking people and assets. M2M technology has matured over the years and will make its presence in the area of tracking/tracing and remote monitoring of assets. The machines will report to a centralised server where the data consolidation occurs. So, an executive in SME will monitor the health of an organisation through a dashboard on his computer.
4. Social Media: With Social Media revolution, consumers express openly about businesses. Now it’s up to these businesses, whether they want to be part of the dialogue or ignore it. SMEs, that master social media tools early, will have a significant advantage over their peers. Investment in social media listening tools will yield greater returns and will result in better Customer relations, effective marketing and brand management. There are numerous examples of social media usage for businesses. For example, a Youtube video of a product and its features will have a significant impact on the potential buyer. Another example is that of a CEO, via a youtube video, addressing employees/share holders to communicate goals or organizing town hall kind of meetings. This goes a long way in increasing transparency within the organization.
These technologies will facilitate the disproportionate growth in the SME sector. The key contributors that will expedite the change will be the ‘enabling companies’ (my company is one of them) which will hand-hold SMEs during the change. Good luck SMEs.
Experts on SME