by December 31, 2012 0 comments

1. Which IT products/services and solutions are in demand by SMEs?

I have seen that awareness about the latest IT products and solutions is low amongst SMEs. They are not usually aware of the comprehensive range of ready-to-use products in the market. They also lack proper contacts through which they can obtain information about new solutions being rolled out/planned. Coming to software, SMEs go for easily available accounting solutions and online marketing tools. They usually do not have much interest in software such as SAP. They need software which helps them establish connectivity with branches and also maintain a stock of their inventory. Other sought-after products by SMEs include HR management, SCM, etc.

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As regards hardware needs, non-availability of technical expertise makes it a problem for SMEs. They either need to approach external consultants to determine what will benefit them the most or follow the industry trends.

2. Why SMEs cannot adopt the latest IT technologies in spite of being much more flexible compared to large enterprises?

It is true that in large enterprises there are many decision-making bodies involved and hence, compared to an SME, decision-making would be typically slow. However, various factors come to play here for the slower pace in SMEs. One is the lack of skilled manpower. Second is finance constraints. The lack of timely and adequate financing is a hurdle towards adoption of IT. Taking loans, selling assets, etc. places serious burden on the IT expenditure of SMEs owing to the high cost of credit and lack of sufficient support from government and other institutions. I think machinery/equipment that uses the latest technology should be available on a rental basis, much like how office space can be rented. This will help ensure that the latest technologies can be used by SMEs in a cost-effective manner. Also, there are times when upgrading your IT infrastructure causes interference in production and SMEs, having no backup system in place to carry on business, cannot afford to have this interference. Training the manpower for using the latest technology also incurs a lot of expenditure. With FDI in retail, it is important for SMEs to increase their investment in technology as per their needs in order to face the competition by retail giants. This also acts as an opportunity for corporates as well as SMEs of the IT industry to provide low cost IT solutions to SMEs from different verticals so that they can be more competitive, can improve efficiency of operations and be able to manage their supply chain better. This will pave the way for inclusive growth of Indian SMEs.

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