Small businesses have long been one of the key pillars of economic growth in India. India is home to over 75 million SMBs that are contributing significantly to India’s GDP and comprise almost half of its exports. But this sector also faces some of the toughest obstacles such as lack of access to finance and poor infrastructure that have been impeding their long-term growth and sustenance.
The COVID-19 lockdown has further dented the small business landscape by disrupting supply chains and hampering operational efficiency. Even with the many government measures and stimulus packages in place, SMBs are cash-strapped and struggling to stay afloat. There is an immediate need to pivot to growth, and digitisation can help small businesses scale up faster and develop business agility.Small Businesses = Big Opportunities
The recently concluded Small Business Virtual Summit, in collaboration with Cisco India, highlighted the need for digital transformation and how technology can help small businesses do big things. Hon’ble Minister Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, MSME, Government of India, delivered a special address to the audience emphasising on the imminent need for MSMEs to go digital and conduct their businesses easily online with a focus on transparency, a corruption-free system, time-bound decision making process and commitment.
“Since we are trying to reduce our imports, upgradation of technology is imperative for MSMEs. Knowledge is power, and gaining an understanding of science, research, entrepreneurship, skills, and successful practices are crucial. The conversion of knowledge into wealth is the future of the country. This is the time for all Indian MSMEs to adopt technology and reduce costs across the board (be it logistics, production, or labour) without compromising on quality. Digital transformation can open up new markets for small businesses. The current scenario presents great opportunities for Indian SMEs to increase their exports and garner potential investments. Digitisation is very important for streamlining workflows and managing all aspects of business online without stepping into any government offices in person,” said Gadkari.
Taking a cue from the Hon’ble Minister, Sameer Garde, President - Cisco India and SAARC, spoke about Indian SMBs’ ability to turn crises into opportunities and how they can pivot towards profitability using technology, in his keynote speech. “At Cisco, we believe that digitisation can be a force for good, an enabler of inclusion, and an equaliser of opportunity. There are over 75 million SMBs in India today, employing 180 million people. And they are key to India becoming a USD 5 Trillion economy by 2024. Digitisation is crucial to SMB success in today’s new normal, and tomorrow’s post-COVID-19 world.”Increasing Workforce Productivity
Working remotely allowed companies to leverage the growing gig economy and create a more diverse workforce. To empower SMBs and help them connect and collaborate securely, Anand Patil, Director, Systems Engineering, Cisco India, presented curated solutions from Cisco Designed. While Pankaj Agrawal, Director, Collaboration - India & SAARC, and Vaibhav Pant, Systems Engineering Manager, Collaboration Business - Cisco India, showed us first-hand how organisations can apply technological tools for a thriving, productive workplace.
With the rise in cyber threats during the ongoing pandemic, small businesses began looking for ways to ensure cyber resilience and data protection. Cisco’s Vishak Raman, Director-Security Business, and Raghunandan Koushik, Lead-Security Business, came together for a fireside chat with Madavane K, GM-IT Operations, Lumina Datamatics to decode why investing in cyber security measures can improve business agility and flexibility.Talking Transformation
The summit also delved into addressing the many challenges affecting small businesses, including lack of access to working capital, access to resell, and access to human resources. Laying emphasis on digitisation, the discussions provided actionable solutions such as collaborative technology, the relevance of cyber security, cloud investments, and the implementation of AI tools.
The numerous panels hosted by CNBC-TV18 anchor Reema Tendulkar featured industry stalwarts such as Gopal Pillai, Vice President, Seller Services - Amazon India, Divya Sethi, Head of Emerging Business - Airtel Business, Mahanthesha Kestur Adaviswamy, Managing Director - Teleindia Networks, Panish PK, Managing Director - Small Business, CISCO India, Udit Goyal, Director, Strategy & Planning, CISCO India, and Atul Bansal, Managing Director, Velocis Systems, and more to shed light on the transformational changes digitisation can bring.
Even though we are currently in the throes of an economic downturn, small businesses need to chart a roadmap to tackle emerging challenges and embrace a digital future to revive the economy. The Small Business Virtual Summit garnered over 12,600 registrations and provided actionable solutions to SMBs on how they can leverage technology to their advantage and restart businesses to ensure business continuity.
If you missed the virtual summit, you can watch the complete event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUsIzrqXdYYThis is a partnered post.