In India, small and medium businesses (SMBs) contribute over 30 per cent to the country’s overall GDP. Industry experts and analysts believe this contribution could rise to over 40 per cent in the next couple of years. But, the current challenging situation has been a reality check for the some 75 million SMBs in India. Their business continuity plans have been put to test. Those holding back technology modernisation, such as a move to the cloud, got an important wakeup call. And most SMBs have come to realise the need for a strong cloud foundation to regain and sustain growth in the new decade.
The SMB sector in India has had to deal with an unprecedented business environment the last few quarters. In fact, even prior to that, a number of SMBs were already tackling skill shortage and capital constraints. Not many had access to the latest technology in place. So lowering costs, automating processes and successfully adapting to empower employees as well as customers continue to be immediate priorities for the SMB sector at large.
For India to truly transform into a digital economy, it’s imperative that the country’s SMBs — a key contributor to the GDP — evolve into digital-first businesses. But, making the right technology moves can be tricky at times, given the dynamic technology landscape.
Digital SMBs on the rise
The good thing is that many Indian SMBs have already embarked on their digital journey. SMB leaders acknowledge the need to expand digital adoption, with cloud as the gateway. Per a recent NASSCOM report, Indian SMBs are on the right track when it comes to developing a cloud-first approach to improve business performance. And instead of a piecemeal approach, a holistic cloud strategy will help them not lose sight of the larger picture.
On its part, the government is actively advocating the need for modernisation of SMBs in the country, with advanced technologies as the beachhead. And according to industry experts, the faster SMBs make the cloud leap, the better will be their growth prospects — while also helping them to quickly get back onto the growth track. Per IDC, ‘Future SMBs’ will be more data-driven, very customer-centric, highly automated and will embrace continuous experimentation – with ongoing learning and iteration.
Three things Indian SMBs can do to strengthen business continuity and future-proof their orgnisation:
Evolve into truly data-driven businesses: In this new ‘digital normal’, contact-less has become the default mode of engagement. And for brands trying to uncover deeper insights into customer preferences, data has indeed become the asset to be mined — to help organisations build customer trust, brand loyalty and maintain business. Contextual, real-time engagement has taken on a new meaning.
The cloud is empowering SMBs to mine this data capital faster and better. In fact, cloud has levelled the playing field unimaginably. Today, an SMB has access to the very same enterprise-grade, state-of-the-art technologies that for long used to be affordable for large enterprises with deep pockets and skilled resources — at a far lesser cost than previously imaginable.
Fast-track innovation with cloud as the foundation: The adage: ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is very apt for today’s business milieu. While SMBs try to regain and sustain growth, innovation should remain constant, per a Gartner research. In fact, this period of disruption should be viewed as an opportunity to improve business resilience.
Building on their agile mindset, SMBs should turn to new technologies to leapfrog growth orbits. And in this journey, cloud can serve as a catalyst for businesses to develop, test and deploy new initiatives, such as an AI-enabled digital assistant to ensure business continuity and keep the conversation going with customers and employees. And with a modern cloud infrastructure, organisations can speed up their innovation and introduce new products/services faster to market.
Develop a security-first culture: Security continues to be a key focus area for SMBs, given the lack of quality cyber-security talent. Per the recent Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report, 92 per cent of IT professionals believe enterprise-grade public cloud services are more secure vis-à-vis their organisation’s legacy datacenters. Given the rise in the kind and scale of threats, with new attack surfaces, the challenges and risks have grown manifold.
Making the right cloud choice
By choosing a secure, second generation cloud infrastructure with autonomous capabilities, Indian SMBs get a safe and quick on-ramp to automate processes, focus on strengthening core competencies and engage stakeholders better in the short-term. And at the same time, they can continue to focus on transformational innovation programs aligned to their long-term growth objectives.
Manish Kumar is Co-founder, Impartus Innovations, and Sheela Nambiar is Senior Director, Oracle Digital