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The Challengers MSME Summit: Powering MSMEs’ Journey Into Digitalisation

At an engaging virtual event, industry leaders decoded the vital role of digital transformation for MSMEs.
Digital technologies are one of the key ingredients for any business, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), to grow and thrive in today’s world. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), advanced analytics, etc., can help organisations in the MSME sector to streamline operations and remove obstacles.
Considering the colossal contribution of the MSME sector at 29% to the total GDP growth of the country, it is necessary to support the sector with the right technology tools and assist them in reviving their business.
To help MSMEs take a quantum leap towards digitalisation, The Challengers' MSME Summit, presented by Dell Technologies in association with Moneycontrol and CNBC-TV18, explored the present state of tech adoption across MSMEs and how they can leverage technology to drive business resilience.

Pace of tech adoption
While digital technologies are more widely available today and offer a wide variety of benefits, MSMEs are slow to adapt to the change from a traditional setup to a digital one. “Digital adoption has been on for some time now, but slightly less in the SME space,” said Srikanth Srinivasan, VP & Head, Membership and Outreach at NASSCOM, “but the pandemic has accelerated the pace.”
Looking at the way business is conducted a year after COVID-19 hit, digital capabilities have emerged as an effective solution to overcome rising resource constraints. “Some of the factors that have helped digitalisation be more prevalent are seamless communication and connectivity,” added Raj Kumar Rishi, VP and MD, Consumer and Small Business, Dell India. “As far as businesses are concerned, the biggest impact, in my mind, that digitalisation has made is in terms of democratising the entire business environment”, he continued.
The new normal has led to entire business operations moving online, end-to-end, making the digital space a come-one-come-all playfield for big-name brands and MSMEs alike promoting healthy competition.

The Transformation Challenge
"If we cannot transform, we cannot perform," said Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India, in his keynote speech at the summit. It has become crucial for MSMEs to develop a digital business strategy with the goal to ensure business continuity and streamline operations.
The key is to understand that transformations don't happen overnight. The panellists at The Challengers highlighted a few ways for MSMEs to ease into the digital revolution:
  • Making long-term investments lies at the core of every transformation. With a view of a company's digital future, investing in new technologies (cloud services, for example) helps prepare for an easy transition.
  • Sharing experiences with the adoption of digitalisation and new tech creates a benchmark of SOPs and KPIs. Vinod Kumar, President, India SME Forum and Managing Partner & Country Manager, India & Middle East, SDRC International, highlighted, ““Digital helps you assimilate all the different elements (of a business) in one place...you are then able to have a highly productive machinery.”
  • Support systems put in place by governmental bodies to assist MSMEs in navigating this survival challenge can help the sector exponentially.
  • Akhilesh Tuteja, Head of Digital Consulting, KPMG India, emphasised that since very few MSMEs have any existing digital infrastructure, it is actually simpler for them to start ground-up with the latest, post-pandemic relevant technologies today rather than revamping the existing framework.


One-Stop Solutions
"The future consumer is in the digital space only," Kumar said, underlining that digitalisation isn't just important but necessary for the survival of any organisation a few years down the line. Adding to this, Sitaram Venkat, GM & India Leader Education & Healthcare, Dell, said that the hybrid model of operations is quickly becoming mainstream now. One-stop digital solutions are widespread today in the form of e-learning through smart interfaces at schools, working remotely at offices, and other similar instances.

Leveraging Intelligent Technologies
Ritu Gupta, Director of Marketing at Dell India, focused on the use of chatbots in customer services by brands across the globe. The trend of employing AI and ML in business operations—whether they be backend or customer-centric—has caught on. She stated that digitally-adept MSMEs are known to grow twice as fast as their offline counterparts.
AI and ML essentially condense the vastness of big data into understandable numbers, driving business strategies towards profit. Since MSMEs typically work with limited resources, leveraging the intelligent insights derived through AI could slingshot them into a high-paced growth trajectory.

The bottom line
MSMEs can be dubbed as the growth pockets of a country. They must be at the centre of innovation, enterprising values, and entrepreneurship. By adapting to the digital space, this segment of the Indian industry can be pivotal to the country's overall growth in the global digital space.
Watch the entire discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upJKSKNXPa0

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