How SMEs + Speed Equals Success

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1 How SMEs + Speed Equals Success Page 1

2 Table of Contents Introduction The opportunity for SMEs The next stop ahead Speeding up service delivery for SMEs Challenges faced in adapting to technology Conclusion Page 2

3 Introduction Not so long ago, Might was right. Big companies used to enjoy certain advantages and could elbow out smaller, newer competitors out of the market with their sheer size and clout. However, today s interconnected marketplace creates a unique model where Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can thrive thanks to their constant innovation and niche products and services. By embracing technology, speed, and agility, SMEs can put in place systems and personnel, which enables their companies to compete for and reap those rich rewards once only accessible to the behemoths. Just as a weapon of remarkable speed, the slingshot, helped young David defeat the giant Goliath, so using the right tools and maneuvering with speed can make today s SMEs giant-slayers. This white paper discusses the potential for growth of SMEs in the light of technology being a key enabler and speed of service delivery a key differentiator. The opportunity for SMEs According to the UPS Perceptions of Global Trade Survey, 24 percent of small businesses are currently engaged in global commerce, and many of those businesses are experiencing a large return from global trade. Of businesses who are doing business overseas, 66 percent report that exporting contributes up to a quarter of their annual revenue. The increasing access to a global clientele via internet, better infrastructure, and access to markets has increased prospects for the SMEs manifold. The advent of internet commerce has opened doors to the world for SMEs everywhere. Suddenly, opportunities to scale their businesses seem almost unlimited, and all from the comfort and ease of their systems. The evolution of digital and mobile payments takes this accessibility even further, freeing up SME owners to conduct business when they want, where they want and how they want. Aided by rapidly expanding communication technologies and Information Technology (IT), SMEs now find it simpler to gain a footing that lets them leverage their Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) and appeal to a much wider audience. Thus, with improved connectivity, a shoemaker in Agra can showcase his products online and find buyers in USA, a Yoga school in Varanasi can teach students worldwide through online webinars and its own YouTube channel, and a movie theatre in a faraway suburb can accept online booking for its shows from all over the city. All of them thrive by selling some niche product or service to the customer, and technology is the enabler of fulfillment. In the new scenario, being nimble is the key, and speed of service delivery is an essential goal. The next stop ahead Today s businesses increasingly rely on Internet applications and networks to communicate and collaborate. You cannot afford your business relationships to be jeopardized because of the inability to communicate effectively and securely. A quick scan of the emerging technologies shows that these have further potential to benefit SMEs, and they stand to gain much from being prepared. #One dominant trend is the rapidly increasing adoption of cloud-based services and data storage, which facilitates information access and Page 3

4 analysis processes used to provide context-aware, intelligent information services and solutions #Moreover, the growing popularity and importance of social media and user-generated content continues to build new bodies of data and add perspective or value to others. #Lastly, the migration to IPv6, the next-generation protocol for the Internet that provides the addressing scheme and common IP-based platform, facilitates the connectivity of devices and components to build the Internet of things (IoT). IPv6, combined with semantic technology, linked data, and the openness of previously incompatible data and applications, will help facilitate the convergence of data, applications, systems, and communications to build the Web 3.0. Hosted, managed, or cloud services: Hosted, managed, or cloud service models allow organizations to pursue the promising but untested technologies or applications they want without having to make a significant capital commitment. Companies can adjust contracts to market conditions or cancel them if their endeavors fail. Plus, outsourcing allows their internal resources to focus more on strategic projects rather than on managing day-to-day IT operations. Speeding up service delivery for SMEs With the evolving technology, some new models of service delivery have emerged which are particularly favourable to SMEs because of their cost-effectiveness and flexibility. By choosing these new array of services, SMEs are responding and performing better with a faster service delivery. Here is a tentative list, but by no means exhaustive: Web and video conferencing: Web and video conferencing are now an integral part of the enterprise communications strategy, encouraged by different lines of business users in an enterprise as well as by IT decision makers. Declining prices have made it viable for all sizes of business establishments. Page 4

5 Vanilla online meeting technologies are rapidly giving way to sophisticated offerings like high definition video, advanced mobile capabilities, social media integration and workplace collaboration tools. The user experience is rapidly improving beyond the current trends, extending into technology realms like the cloud, making communication, collaboration and conferencing that much refined. Data mobility The move towards mobile solutions is inevitable and many industry sectors can see tangible benefits from taking the mobility plunge. The biggest value proposition of mobility solutions is the potential transformation they can bring to business efficiency of SMEs. Although challenges persist, the overwhelming benefits and the inevitability of a shift to an increasingly mobilized world make it an imperative for SMEs to embrace this change. Internet Leased Lines SMEs can gain from an individual, permanently assigned, uncontested connection or port a dedicated internet backbone network. It is an ideal solution for businesses outgrowing their dial-up and moving towards a dedicated connection for 24-hours-a-day access. There are also service providers who offer a Bandwidth on Demand model, wherein you pay for the bursts of speeds you require and not all the time. Software as a Service (SaaS) With Software as a Service (SaaS), an internet connection is all you need to source the infrastructure you need to set up your business. The SaaS vendor can manage and run the application with utmost security, performance, and reliability. The number of benefits it offers to businesses of all sizes and types has enabled this model to thrive in recent years. This is also corroborated by analysts and a recent report from Gartner states that the SaaS market is expected to grow up to $22.1 billion by Page 5

6 Challenges faced in adapting to technology While the developing technology looks attractive for SMEs, the immediate challenge for them is to accommodate the upgrade within their limited budgets and to do it faster to retain their advantage. Thankfully, partnering with the right communication service provider can help them meet some of these challenges within the short-time frame they require. Reputed communication service providers with years of expertise in providing the communication backbone and a host of value-added service packages take away the headache of investing a lot in infrastructure and offer flexible offerings and payment options for SMEs. Does the partner have years of expertise and sophistication to provide the entire array of technology products and services required at a reasonable cost? Does it have a dedicated internet backbone to provide high-speed internet connections without disruption or downtime? Is its connectivity network future ready (IPv6 readiness)? Does it provide an easy to use interface and 24x7 support? Is it backed by on-site customer training, local field engineering and sales office support? The array of possibilities presented by the new technologies make it possible for the SMEs to confidently and effectively face any competition and fulfil their customer needs much faster. However, they must choose their technology and communication provider wisely and with much care. These are a few questions they need to ask before they zero in on any potential partner: By choosing wisely, your organization can stay ahead of the competition and gain advantage. Page 6

7 Conclusion With the emergence of internet commerce and better connectivity, SMEs today are empowered to compete with established, bigger players and have carved out a niche for themselves. Leveraging the twin pillars of technology and speed of service delivery, they are managing to retain their customers and venture into newer markets, while keeping bottom lines low thanks to newer models of technology consumption and usage. But the key challenge ahead of them remains identifying the right technology and communication partner that would be reliable, economical and supportive in the long run and backs them during every step of their growth story. By choosing wisely, the SMEs can gain critical advantage and win. Page 7

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