TECH TALK: SME Technology Utility: Small Business Challenges

An interesting point to note is that typically small business adoption of new technology lags big business by 2-3 years. In the last few years, we have seen many of the larger companies use Internet technologies to automate many of their processes. Smaller companies have been limited to using software to automate and manage a few of the functionalities like accounting, contact management and sales. These have been done by using software from different vendors with little or no integration across these packages.

In fact, there is not much of real information management in many SMEs (small and medium enterprises) – it is all in people’s heads and pads, there are few systems. The owner-manager has little time to go and figure out a process and a system for that process. And yet, if something came along which could be used easily and without customisation – yes, no need for consultants and system integrators – then it would be used. In many cases, the owner-manager realise that the current processes and systems will not scale. They are good enough for to manage growth 20-30% a year. But they cannot manage and enable growth 100% a year, or more. This story is perhaps replicated in millions of such companies.

Look at what is happening in various Indian industries now. China is entering many of these markets and selling products at much lower prices.

What are the options for the Indian companies? They can either shut down or fight back. (Many are of course whining to the government, which is a fairly useless and temporary approach). Indian companies which want to fight back have to improve their efficiencies, they have to cut costs and grow revenues. It is not an either-or situation; both have to be done at the same time. Technology and the Internet can now help the companies which are willing to do battle cross the chasm.

These are the companies which need a technology ebusiness solution: what they need is an software suite automating and integrating not just a company’s internal functions, but also helping it collaborate with its partners. Along with the software, they need the services to help them manage their IT infrastructure (computing and communications) and help them with their core business processes.

Why do these companies need such a solution? Because that’s how business is going to be done in the future by all the survivors (companies which grow, and have a competitive advantage, not the living dead), that’s the only way companies can be efficient. This is where the true promise of the Internet lies, it is also in some ways the Holy Grail of business: building that perfect enterprise. It will never happen, but companies can definitely come close.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.