10 Sep 2020, 09:45 — 9 min read
In my previous article, we looked at how adopting technology can benefit SME businesses and the economy. In this second article of the series, we look at challenges faced by SMEs, and delve on some likely solutions, using technology as an enabler.
SMEs are now looking at adopting technologies that will help them scale their business and give them a competitive edge. While a significant number of them are still at a basic technology adoption level, others are fast-moving to more mature levels and are welcoming new-age technologies.
We are aware of the large size of the SME segment. The unprecedented growth in this segment is a direct result of huge opportunities in this segment. Along with this, it has become a big challenge to grow, considering the competition in this segment is now not only from domestic companies but from companies all over the world. This is especially true of SME companies in the third world, developing economies. It has become imperative for the SME owner to be on the lookout for newer opportunities in the emerging markets.
The size of the ever-growing SME family makes it all the tougher to survive and grow. There are constant pressures to outperform other competitors just to stay afloat.
SMEs are now looking at adopting technologies that will help them scale their business and give them a competitive edge. While a significant number are still at a basic technology adoption level, others are fast welcoming new age technologies.
Let us start, by listing down, few business challenges being faced by this sector. Most of the SME owners we have met are bogged down by almost similar problems, that of:
One of the biggest bottlenecks to the adoption of technology, as an enabler for solving business issues, by the SME owner is:
Most of these need a deep understanding of:
Let us look at a few examples of how SME owners can start adopting innovative solutions with devices and apps to increase their effectiveness.
We will discuss how SME owners have used the following to increase their productivity:
We were able to identify a few apps that are extremely useful for the SME owner on the move.
Some of these apps represent a wide variety of uses; what they all have in common are simple ways to enhance your productivity. Most of these are easy to use and do not need deep prior knowledge of IT. Some of the apps focus on financials, allowing you to easily manage a ledger, accounts payable and receivables. One app focuses primarily on tracking billable work typically done by freelance consultants, a service that is increasingly being used by many businesses in these tough times.
Other apps focus on productivity. We strongly feel that productivity apps are crucial. They allow the creation and management of documents that comprise the SMEs’ business data; help to keep sensitive data protected and retained within company premises; and aid in communication and collaboration among employees, customers, and external contacts. Of course, there are the more traditional business applications such office suites and online payroll.
One more category of mobile app that we have found to be very useful is the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) app. Typically CRM apps help to effectively integrate sales, marketing and customer support functions to maximise business interactions and improve customer experience. It involves using technology to organise, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and post-sales support.
Many young entrepreneurs we interact with rue the fact that they get very little time to unwind. The constant need to be on the move, meeting customers, visiting vendors, monitoring production work at their own units are a big drain on time left for relaxation. One SME owner, an exporter, having made more than 70 overseas visits in the last 6 - 7 years, complains of unfinished tasks at their units.
We suggest solutions like video surveillance solutions to monitor the activities at their production units, whenever they are travelling. They cite the slow streaming speed because of poor bandwidth connectivity as the biggest bottlenecks to the success of such solutions. With the introduction of 4G/5G technologies in India, we feel many of these problems will be at least, be partially solved.
Some other apps that could help the SME owner, are listed below.
As apps become more prevalent and more powerful, entrepreneurs and small business owners are relying on these savvy tools to help their businesses grow and run more smoothly.
Some other useful apps for SME owners on the move are listed below. (This list is only indicative; SMEs must choose the right solution based on their fitment and need)
Any traveller who has to juggle between multiple flights and use a rented cab on the same day can attest to the need for a comprehensive and simple itinerary. Tripit is an app that allows business travellers to do just that by keeping track of trip arrangements in one place.
Building on Google Docs, Google’s new Drive app lets users seamlessly port and edit files from PC to tablet to Smartphone. Not only is it a fully-featured office suite, but the software also acts as a full cloud drive, letting you store any file type via a virtual drive app or a web interface.
Ever had a great idea while flying cross-country? Evernote is an app that makes sure users “Remember Everything”.
If managing travel is difficult, managing expenses can be nearly impossible. Enter Expensify, an app that keeps track of business expenses and mileage, while letting users scan and upload receipts.
It is now an accepted fact that one needs to constantly upgrade oneself to be able to grow. Learning and growing has become almost synonymous and are now part of almost all success stories. Ebook Readers are very special devices which help us read, even on the move. Besides business and self-help books SME owners can also use the time while they on the move to unwinding by reading some light stuff. Most of the Ebook readers are now very competitively priced and are easy to handle.
With the use of some of the business apps, as discussed above, along with solutions such as Video surveillance and devices like the E-book reader, we are sure the SME owner’s journey to growth will be much smoother. Many of our customers, mostly SMEs, have benefitted immensely on adopting similar solutions.
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Posted bySameer Mathur
SM Consulting (www.smconsulting.in) is a New Delhi based Business and Technology Advisory. We guide our customers on their journey towards adopting Technologies to achieve their...
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