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Surfing the Digital wave: Towards future ready SMEs

Digital transformation is the key growth driver for SMEs as they work towards scaling their business.

June 10, 2016 / 11:44 AM IST

Digital transformation is the key growth driver for SMEs as they work towards scaling their business. In fact, most SMEs are witnessing a paradigm shift in their business models with the usage of simple and cost-effective digital technologies.Market trends and the success of early adoptershave emphasized that digital technology is more of a necessity than a choice for SMEs. Moreover, using digital tools can be one of the most effective ways for SMEs to boost business and gain a competitive edge in a highly dynamic market.

Why a company needs to be digitally empowered?In India until 2010,Ecommerce was still at nascent stage and social platform only meant for an individual to have a social profile to stay connected with friends and familiars. But today in 2016, the explosive growth in consumption of smart gadgets especially smart phones and internet is making digital platforms stringer as ever. As per a recent report by IAMAI release in February 2016, India is estimated to have 462 million total internet users and while mobile internet users will be 371 million by June 2016. This clearly indicates that the rise in usage of mobiles phones has significantly impacted consumption of internet as well. Interestingly, in April this year that we witnessed a leading smart phone player of India announcing launch of 15 smartphones in a day!

With multiple factors such as growth of smart gadgets and internet usage, digital platforms have become significant aspect for brands to connect with their target audience innovatively. Therefore, for companies both B2C and B2B, “Digital marketing” and “Internet marketing” have become inevitable.

The Big Leap for Indian SMEsAccording to a recent BCG report, by year 2018, approximately 8 million SMEs will connect and perform transactions online. While it’s too early to predict how many SMEs in India will switch to digital technology, it would not be wrong to say that the future looks bright.  With digital transformation, SMEs in India can be at par with their global competitors while being able to actively contribute to the Indian economy.Going by the recent surge in number of SMEs that are coming on –board in the capital market, it is essentially a golden period for Indian SMEs. Many players global as well as local, are coming forward to empower Indian SMEs digitally. The Advantage of Digital PlatformsWith digital transformation, SMEs can focus on core business processes and engage in real-time decision-making. This in turn will help SMEs prioritize research and development and develop strategic policies for enhancing their business. While speaking of the digital technology in terms of SMEs, we would emphasize on the power of social media and eCommerce platformsare transforming the way business in this sector. Below are a few key benefits that digital transformation holds for SMEs:Accelerated communication processes: Digital technology and specifically, the social media platformshelp SMEs to develop a two way communication with their target audience. The platforms should be used efficiently in streamliningbrand communication, reducing response time and develop deeper connect with consumers.Scaling across geographies via e-commerce& Social media: In an age when everyone has access to a digital device, it is imperative for SMEs to virtually scale their business and engage with customers in real time, regardless of their geographical location or size. With minimal investment on social platforms, SMEs can also improve the reach and gain visibility among relevant stakeholders. Ecommerce sites and social media platforms can prove to be stepping stones for SMEs to quickly encash the growth opportunities at comparatively lowinvestment.Reduced complexity: Digital technologiesare not only pervasive; they greatly reduce the complexity of conducting and running a business. • Track behavior of consumers: The social platforms facilitate easier and faster communication and make it easy to keep track of every business transaction. Core business operations including marketing, publicity, customer relations and market research have been made easier thanks to the advent of social media site like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. • Easy purchasing and flexi payment options: The constant and rapid evolution of social media platforms are creating newer opportunities to sell a product in more and more interesting manner and also with well structure call to action facilities like “Shop Now”, “Buy More” or “Know More” click buttons, it has become easier to seamlessly convert a social media user into a potential buyer.The emergence of e-commerce platforms and subsequent payment gateways helped in easier B2C and B2B transactions. More and more SMEs are going the e-commerce way for a smooth, cost-effective business transactions.Customer acquisition and engagement: Social media is emerging as the powerful medium for customer engagement as it helps in understanding the customer needs and their buying behaviour in real time. SMEs no longer need to spend hefty amount on advertisements to attract more customers. Social networking sites offer innovative and cost-effective way of interacting with the clients. SMEs can run a campaign or announce a contest or conduct an online survey using the social media platforms for customer engagement.By adopting the digital pathway, especially e-commerce, SMEs can reap benefits of increased revenues, improved market reach, access to new markets, customer acquisition and improved customer experience.It is time to be digitally empowered!

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