Industry Stalwarts Underline Critical Need To Wire Up SMEs

  • Wiring up an SME is not a choice, but only way forward.
  • A strong SME media is required to grow the domestic industry.
  • SMEs need pay-per-use models to embrace technology faster.

New Delhi, 28 November 2009: The Indian SME can only grow if he gets wired. And that is possible if his dependency on people is removed, according to Bharat Goenka, Chairman and Managing Director of Tally Solutions. Goenka was among a list of eminent speakers at “Envisioning the Wired SME” conference, organized by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) and IndiaMART.com, at the Sheraton, Saket, in New Delhi on Saturday.

Speaking to the packed audience, Goenka, who was speaking about his recipe for SMEs to grow the domestic business, stressed on the need to grow, for which everyone needs time. And that’s where technology and online connectivity comes in handy. Reiterating that getting wired should be treated as the means, and not as the end for any SME, Goenka exhorted Indian SMEs to reduce unorganized processes and reduce errors.

The conference, a first of its kind that brought together thought leaders from the banking, technology, marketing, trade organizations, successful SMEs, credit rating agencies and government bodies, was hugely attended. The first session, which was titled, “Growing the Domestic Industry”, was chaired by Mr. Pradeep Gupta, President TiE Delhi and Chairman and Managing Director of Cybermedia Group and also included Mr. Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME), Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Mr. Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, IndiaMART.com.

Attributing the slow growth in the SME sector to a sequential gap, Mr. Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO of IndiaMART.com said, “The decline and gradual extinction of printed yellow pages has really affected an SME’s route to garner more business. Online yellow pages have not been able to take up their print predecessor’s space. That’s because SMEs were not even fundamentally wired – with a phone, a PC, an internet connection and some basic software.” Asking the government and industry to make it simpler for SMEs to get help, Agarwal said, “It is too little help and too difficult to get it. Let the government be realistic about the amount of market development assistance it offers to an ecosystem of more than 5 million SMEs. And to match that, the IT industry should find a way to make a bundled offer of a PC, an internet connection and the basic software available to SMEs for as little as Rs 500 per month. That can help bring the growth of the SME sector to inflection point much faster.”

Speaking as an observer of SMEs for the past 30 years, Mr. Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME) said, “ICT is not a choice but the only way to progress and build better businesses. Whether SMEs are wired or not, is not the question or the choice. 24x7x365 connectivity is the only way out. Success at an amazing speed can be achieved once technology-driven processes can turn information into a commodity and dismantles barriers. With most SMEs in the manufacturing sector, ICT infrastructure is the need. ”

The one-day event featured six sessions on diverse topics of relevance to SMEs – ranging from technology, marketing and scaling up.

The event was attended by an enthusiastic audience comprising bankers, representatives from industry associations, government bodies, CEOs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), senior representatives from software giants, entrepreneurship development institutes and rating agencies.

The inaugural session was chaired by Mr. Pradeep Gupta, President of TiE and CMD of CyberMedia Group, who threw light upon the problems faced by the sector in understanding technology and adopting it in their work processes. He also emphasized the role of social networking and connectivity in growing businesses.