In every country, small and medium enterprises are the backbone of employment, productivity, innovation and growth. However, there is much more to the role and balance of SMEs in any country and specifically to the region. As such, the key differentiators between these SMEs within their industries is driven by their adoption of technology which drives digital transformation and business process automation, ultimately boosting their topline and bottom line.
Traditionally, adopting technology by SMEs has followed a start and stop approach. Various factors are known to be responsible for these prolonged hiccoughs. Most SMEs are run through organic home-grown operating models and may or may not have been exposed to cutting-edge technologies. The level of technology adoption is also dependent on their technology awareness.
At a macro level, high costs of investment in information technology solutions, lack of skilled human resources or high costs of salaries, limited returns from business, cash flow limitations, lack of confidence in technology investments or lack of innovation culture may have previously limited the extent of technology adoption by SMEs. More specific limitations can drill down to the lack of local customisation and lack of vertical specific solutions.
However, with the ongoing emphasis on digital transformation and digital readiness with vertical specific operations solutions for all businesses across the region and the globe, the adoption of information technology solutions can no longer be ignored.
On the flip side, consumerisation of technology driven by platforms such as cloud, mobility, analytics, social media, and availability of solutions on a subscription basis, has been responsible for enhancing the ease-of-use and effectiveness of technology and increasing its availability outside the technology department.
Whether the business user is looking at customer related analytics, typically a CRM solution; or for sell-through and sell-out information, typically a SCM solution; or for payroll, tax and compliance requirements across geographies, typically an HR solution, they are now available as cloud hosted solutions.
Cloud hosted solutions allow SMEs to select the solution of their choice that best meets their market specific requirements. Moreover, there is no more need to make upfront capital investments in hardware and software. By selecting a cloud hosted solution, SMEs can pay-as-they-use, thereby reducing the challenges of raising investments and risking technology lock-in and obsolescence.
Going forward technology and the costs of investing in technology are not going to be inhibiters for the growth and development of SMEs. On the contrary, they are now enablers that have the ability to transform SMEs from goliaths of the past into nimble and agile sprinters of the future.
- Adopting technology by SMEs has followed a start and stop approach.
- Most SMEs are run through organic home-grown operating models and may not have been exposed to technologies.
- Level of technology adoption is also dependent on technology awareness.
- Specific limitations can drill down to lack of local customisation and lack of vertical specific solutions.
Public cloud applications, whether for human resources, CRM, finance or supply chain have the ability to boost the innovation and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises, explains Nisith Naik at Centra Hub.