Over the last decade or so, information technology has taken some giant steps and this exponential growth has changed the way we live and interact with the world. No wonder information technology has enabled many small and medium businesses to carve a niche for themselves. Indeed, IT has triggered the growth of many SMEs and SMBs. And now Indian SMEs are coming forward and adopting the technology like never before to improve their output. When it comes to implementing the latest technology for their business needs, a lot of Indian SMEs are on par with their western counterparts.
Slowly but surely, Indian SMEs are willing to invest in new IT solutions to improve their output and efficiency. Over the last couple of years, Indian SMEs have been adopting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), clubbing it with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and sometimes even with Supply Chain Management (SCM). These small and medium enterprises have realised that to maximise the potential of available information technology, IT products must be implemented in tandem.
"Indian SMEs are showing willingness to implement IT products as a whole. They are going for a 360-degree approach. BusinessObjects, Kautilya and Site catalyst are some of the IT products which have become very popular among Indian SMEs. These products not only save a lot of time, but also make functioning of an organisation really smooth. They also aid in creating a tailor-made database and at times this stored information comes in handy," says Raaj Seth of Arth Salution.
However, what exactly is IT integration?
"Well," Raaj explains, "it is an amalgamation of two or more already-existing information systems. It is just like Hollywood movie The Avengers, where all the heroes with their absolute power, were clubbed together to maximise their strengths. Similarly, when you join all these IT products together, the results are exponential. Technically speaking, instead of running ERP, CRM, SCM and BPR on separate software, an SME runs them on an integrated software so that the entire information can then be shared and viewed by one and all."
But what is inspiring Indian SMEs to adopt various emerging IT solutions?
"They have realised that they need to make the most of the IT products to render the desired results. They have also realised that IT is an integral aspect of an organisation. This makes the functioning of an organisation easy and helps them meet the potential clients. They also know that embracing IT is something which will enable them to grow domestically and globally as well," explains Anuj Mathur, CEO of Q3tech.
Agrees Dr Alok Bharadwaj, executive vice president, Canon. "IT services and solutions have now become an integral lifeline for all organisations. In the technology world, following the global model provides the competitive edge and Indian SMEs are rapidly exploring to modernise. Fortunately, business cloud service propositions from IT service providers are making entry barriers low for SMEs," he informs.
A strong online presence
Most of the Indian SMEs are using internet as a very effective tool to reach out to their potential clients. Success of e-commerce industry bears testimony to this changing trend. Indian SMEs are roping in professional website developers and SEO experts to make an impressive online presence.
"Today the websites of small or medium businesses, be it B2B or B2C, showcase all the updated information. So when a potential client visits a website, he is able to view product details like its services, existing clients, pricing, etc. Besides that, a client is also given an opportunity to place an order through the website; make online payment and track the delivery status of the ordered products," points out Raaj.
"Most of the SMEs have realised that they cannot afford a bad user experience. Your website must be just like a one-point-stop where everything can be done without physically getting in touch with the concerned SME. If you have a portal, then make the most of it," avers Anuj. He further added that when a client is willing to place an order through your website, he must be empowered to do so.
"In this age of technology, what is the first thing that we do when we hear about a company? We Google it and that is where your online marketing and showcasing of products begin. Your first impression has to be extraordinary," concludes Anuj.
Around the world
In Europe and the US, an SME is an enterprise which has up to 10 employees. In New Zealand, Canada and Israel, an SME is the one which has 19 or fewer employees. In India, an SME's investment in plant and machinery is less than Rs 25 lakh.
Secure your zone
Many a time, companies fall prey to internet frauds. Cybersecurity expert Jubin Thomas lists some preventive measures that can be undertaken to minimise cyber frauds
* Invest in security technology. Though it may be as basic as it could be (some security is anytime better than having none)
* According to researchers, a computer (without an antivirus) connected to the internet is known to be more vulnerable to infection than one having the basic security mechanisms in place Using licensed versions of software programmes and operating systems which are updated
* Identifying 'too good to be true' schemes (ponzi and lottery scams, phishing, etc)
* Training the staff (teach employees to identify threats like phishing, spear-phishing, social engineering and following good email practices)
* Using site advisors to verify the authenticity of websites (not all attacks occur from outside the building, it can be an insider job, too)
* It is important to have regular background checks on employees and this should be considered a part of the employment process
* Create company policies Escalate/report incidents through an appropriate medium
* It is important to report the incident to an appropriate person when an incident is encountered. Though the incident may seem minor, it is important to report it to the authority responsible and capable enough to handle it