Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) are a vital element of India’s socio-economic future. While many SMBs faced hardships during the pandemic, the resilience of India’s small business community means they’re optimistic about the coming months. A survey by ASSOCHAM-Dun & Bradstreet Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI) states that SMBs expect strong demand for exports in Q2 2022. The SBCI measures the level of optimism with regards to key parameters such as sales, inventory, investment, etc. among SMBs. While India’s economy is projected to grow at a neck-breaking pace, SMBs will play a pivotal role in steering the country from post-pandemic recovery to positive growth.
Over the last two years, India’s digital acceleration has followed smartphone and internet penetration in 2016. In fact, the IAMAI-Kantar ICUBE 2020 report states that India could have 900 million active internet users by 2025, an increase of 45% from 622 million in 2020. At a time when we find ourselves amidst the biggest technological revolution, it would be remiss to exclude the techno-savvy digital consumer in today’s day and age. With rapid advances in technology, today’s SMBs need to embed digital into their business to make the most out of this revolution.
The future business landscape will look vastly different from the more traditional business models. As more consumers embrace digital, SMBs will have to be where their consumers are online and social. With working from home, employees have adopted a virtual and digital lifestyle, and more vendors and partners are moving their systems to the cloud, as the demand for instant data and business intelligence grows. On National Technology Day, let us look at what the future of technology holds for Indian SMBs.
The importance of data analytics
As companies digitize, they come across more utilitarian data which gives a thorough insight into their own world. Moving away from pen and paper, today’s cloud solutions offer a real-time snapshot of anything from stock units to a customer’s preference for a particular brand or product. When legacy systems are digitized, this gives an SMB clear trend with respect to how to market to their customers, when to contact their vendors, and even automatic reminders for different purposes. With the use of inbuilt and advanced AI/ML solutions from their digital service providers, SMBs can adapt to a truly digital and personalized future which will free them from being tied to a particular geography and expand their scope well beyond their current market.
Upskilling for upliftment
By adopting a digital way of doing business, SMBs learn new skills for not just their business, but also for themselves personally as they navigate the digital world. As per NASSCOM, there will be a 20x demand for digital skills by 2024, which can create 1.3 million jobs and a trillion-dollar opportunity for Indians and Indian SMBs. Today, smartphone manufacturers have made technology incredibly user-friendly. By designing easy-to-use systems and apps, companies are constantly looking to simplify their solutions for the common man. Taking advantage of this, SMBs can learn about different digital technologies not only through MOOCs at their own pace, but also embrace some of the readymade digital solutions like no-code websites and embedded payment gateways for their businesses. By making their employees familiar with digital systems, these SMBs are helping them adopt new skills and prepare for the digital future.
Cybersecurity for a safe future
As more people and systems go online, attuning digital awareness with a heightened sense of security will be crucial. To remove vulnerabilities, SMBs must educate themselves about cyber fraud, phishing, DDoS attacks, and more to prepare for the worst, but be armed for the best. Many digital service providers bundle cybersecurity systems with their solutions today, and while it is a great starting point, an SMB’s digital health should be that business’s top priority. Cybersecurity can no longer be an add-on but a fundamental investment for SMBs.
SMBs must adapt to technological advancements for efficiency, optimized operations, and a truly golden era that will not just be one with the times but also determine the vast scope of their growth.
Nikhil Arora is managing director and vice president of GoDaddy India.