Lack of IT Awareness is the Biggest Challenge for Rajkot SMBs: REA

by May 20, 2015 0 comments

In order to provide solutions, it’s important to first understand the problem. The panel discussion during the PCQuest SMB event helped identify the key business challenges faced by Rajkot’s engg goods SMBs, as well as propose some solutions. The panelists comprised of key members and office bearers of the REA (like Radadiya himself), owners of engineering goods manufacturers, HP from the vendor side, and PCQuest who moderated the discussion.

The Panelists (from L to R): Ashish Sardhara-Director, REA and Astron Engineering Works, Yashraj Rathod-Director, REA and Blossom Kitchenware, Jayesh Radadiya-Secretary, REA and Chairman, Nimco Pumps, Deepak Patel-Applied Auto Parts Pvt Ltd, Ashish Agarwal-Zonal Manager, HP India, and the moderator, Anil Chopra-Editor, PCQuest.

The Panelists (from L to R): Ashish Sardhara-Director, REA and Astron Engineering Works, Yashraj Rathod-Director, REA and Blossom Kitchenware, Jayesh Radadiya-Secretary, REA and Chairman, Nimco Pumps, Deepak Patel-Applied Auto Parts Pvt Ltd, Ashish Agarwal-Zonal Manager, HP India, and the moderator, Anil Chopra-Editor, PCQuest.

All panelists agreed that the biggest problem with Rajkot’s engineering goods industry was lack of awareness of IT. “There are a lot of small scale industries in Rajkot, and they’re currently limited to using basic accounting software and MS Office. More awareness is therefore needed to use IT more effectively”, said Ashish Sardhara, Director, REA and Astron Engineering Works.

Yashraj Rathod, Director, REA and Blossom Kitchenware, further elaborated on this with an example of his own kitchenware industry. “The challenges faced by the kitchenware industry are that when we make anything out of iron and steel, we do all measurements using tape. If we knew what IT solutions were available, we could utilize our raw material more effectively and reduce wastage”, he said. Quoting an earlier presentation about HP workstations, he said that he never knew workstations so deeply before this presentation, so such presentations were essential to generate more awareness.

Moving beyond workstations, Yashraj also stressed on the importance of having sales/analytical data at their finger-tips, with the help of IT. “India is the third largest country that’s importing from China”, he said. “It’s not that we can’t manufacture whatever China is manufacturing. We need the right IT tools to know what’s happening around the world and to help with our manufacturing. That’s the real challenge”, he said.

Jayesh Radadiya, Secretary, REA and Chairman, Nimco Pumps further expanded on this and said that from a marketing point of view, there’s a need to have CRM. “Whenever we’re happy, we forget our near and dear ones and keep moving on. But, when there’s a problem, then they are the ones who help us. Similarly in marketing, we often forget small customers, due to lack of CRM. If we could use cloud based CRM for instance, then that data can help us out”, he added.

Deepak Patel from Applied Auto Parts Pvt Ltd agreed with what Jayesh said that IT development has not happened in Rajkot. A key reason according to Patel was that companies in Rajkot can’t really afford IT staff. “IT is expensive, so people don’t want to buy”, he commented. “There should be something that’s more customized for our specific requirements. Once a computer or laptop has been sold, it’s not enough. There has to be follow up as well to ensure that we get the required support”, he added.

After listening to the key challenges, it was natural to expect an answer about how the IT community can help address them. To this, Ashish Agarwal, Zonal Manager, HP India, gave a simple but effective answer. He said that “when a business becomes competitive, there are three things that become extremely critical—data, knowledge, and speed. For all these, you need IT. “The biggest question therefore is about whose responsibility is it to generate this awareness?”, for which Ashish said that since HP was a Fortune 500 leader, the responsibility therefore lay with the leader to create that awareness in the market. HP has been doing these programs for a wide variety of industries, especially across various cities in Gujarat. “We as a technology leader are committed to create this kind of an awareness, so you’ll see a lot more programs like this from HP”, he added.

Jayesh Radadiya further added that 90% of the people’s mentality is that IT is restricted to networking, Internet, computers, and servers. “We don’t go beyond that, into how IT can be used in marketing and production, etc. If people start accepting the role of IT beyond this, and connect all departments with IT, I think all answers will automatically come up”, he added.

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