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Technology is an Enabler for SMEs
Technology solutions are on the rise for small and medium-scale enterprises ( SMEs ) in the country and many of these units are trying to adopt different levels of Information Technology tools to better their business. S. Anand, a technology consultant who is an advisor to banks, retail and media companies, spoke to M. Soundariya Preetha during his recent visit to Coimbatore on how better SMEs can adopt these applications.
Between the basic office tools and packages such as Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management, a range of middle ground tools is available for the SMEs to adopt. There are some units that have tried these and found them working.
For instance, collaboration and production are two areas where technology is essential for SMEs.
Collaboration includes internal interactions. “We have now gone from text messages to video and audio messages,” Mr. Anand says. Any user should be able to store, share and search for the data or information ( content ). Tools such as blogs, You Tube, Google docs, and Skype are now available readily that the SMEs can use for collaboration.
Productivity tools are those that help the units do more with lesser efforts. These are always available free of cost for the SME sector and they do not have to go through the procurement process. For instance, free applications are available for feedback, file sharing and database creation.
These can be tried and deployed in a quick and easy process.
Apart from the online tools, the hardware options are also becoming better for the SMEs. Every individual now has a handset and, if given a choice they will not say no to using it. “Mobiles are great for information consumption and not for ( content ) creation,” he says. More than half of IT tools are for consumption. A large number of tools and applications have started working on mobiles. These will help SMEs capitalise on technology.
Depending on the nature of job some applications are suitable on mobile, such as those related to field – operations. Companies prepare lot of reports and invoices and track customers. If there is a need for an application on mobile, there will be some small company doing it. When the penetration of smart phones improves, more tools are likely to be available on the mobile platform.
The SMEs will have to get someone who is a geek – who likes software – even if he is a student and they will be able to find out the quick and easy solutions and options that are available for the units. This knowledge can be shared among the units.
To conclude, Mr. Anand says, “Technology can be an enabler. It is a force multiplier. It however, cannot make an enterprise succeed or fail. That will depend on the business model.”
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