I wrote this in October 2003:
…Among SMEs, there are two clear segments. The SMEs in the developed markets have a greater capability to spend on technology than do the ones in the emerging markets. In fact, if one were to look at the IT maturity levels of companies, even some of the larger companies in the emerging markets would be considered as “IT babies”. So, the potential for improved use of technology is substantial – in fact, one could argue that what we have so seen so far with technology adoption across the value chain has been restricted to the larger companies. The SMEs have been impacted only to a small extent – with usage being primarily driven by email, Internet access, accounting and promotional use of an infrequently-updated website.
At the same time, we are seeing new technological innovations. This raises the question: how can SMEs partake in this revolution? Do SMEs have the ability to leapfrog with these new technologies? How can they make their businesses more productive by leveraging some of the newest ideas?
Our focus in this series will be on the SMEs in the emerging markets – think of them as SMEEMS (Small- and Medium-Enterprises in Emerging MarketS). There is an opportunity to define a new IT reference architecture for this category and create a computing platform out of many “cold technologies” which can dramatically reduce cost of ownership and management. At the same time, there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs in targeting these SMEEMs. Think of this category as the teenagers of the consumer market – growing, aspirational, a greater ability to spend and needing unique solutions.”