For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the coming world of teleputers, Ubinet and M-Web can help in making computing technology a utility that can help automate their businesses much faster. Today, SMEs in emerging markets have a low adoption of computers. As a result, many of their business processes are still manual and paper-oriented. This needs to change. It is not just about buying more computers. Rather, it is using computing as a utility to ensure that information is digitised at the source, and business processes and workflows become electronic.
A number of innovations taken together can make this happen. Teleputers connected to docking stations each with a keyboard, monitor and mouse can provide the big input-output capability that information workers need. The M-Web can be home to software-as-a-service applications much like what Salesforce.com is offering but at a magnitude lower price point. When an information worker is away from the desk, the teleputer doubles as a mobile phone making possible access to the required information via the Ubinet. Open-source software can be aggregated together to put together a range of industry-specific applications on the server-side. A monthly pricing model can make it affordable for businesses to make it available to every person in the organisation.
Another platform which could be useful for SMEs is an SME Trade Information Marketplace (STIM) which can help SMEs generate new business opportunities. Think of STIM as a yellow pages on steroids built around the publish-subscribe model. SMEs can post what they want to buy and sell. A matching engine can then provide them with alerts as the new updates come in. This can help enlarge the leads that SMEs need to grow their business.
Many of the ideas discussed here are likely to come to fruition within the next couple of years. Indian entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to build out businesses in these blue oceans leveraging the technological innovations that are occurring. Investors need to think of putting an ecosystem of companies together to build out this digital infrastructure. Indian companies have the advantage of a large domestic market which they can target first and then expand to other emerging markets. What is needed is a mix of vision and will to make tomorrows world a reality.
TECH TALK Envisioning Tomorrows World+T