Low-cost Technology and India-centric Solutions Will Drive SMEs Forward

  • The path to sustainability lies in cluster creation and collective benefit.
  • Customization of IT as a business solution, not as a technology solution.
  • Need of the hour is to set up IT training institutes for SMEs.

New Delhi, 02 December 2009: The issue of information technology usage and empowering of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India got another push in the recently held ‘Envisioning the Wired SME conference’, organized by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) and IndiaMART.com, at the Sheraton, Saket, in New Delhi on Saturday, 28th November ’09.

“Despite having a contributive share of 40 per cent in total industrial output, the SME sector has been lagging behind in the technology front,” said Mr. Mritunjay Kapur, Managing Director, Protiviti. “Unorganized transactions are what need to be controlled, if the SMEs are to make themselves more investor-friendly”, he added. The need of the hour is in making businesses transparent and risk-free to achieve sustainability, he said.

Mr. Rajive Chawla, President, Faridabad Small Industries Association, cited the successful operation of the one-stop store established by the association, which caters to all business-related activities and needs of the members. Mr. Chawla emphasized the importance of transcending from individualism to cluster creation to benefit one and all.

Commending India as a popular investment destination for UK businesses, Ms. Sharon Bamford, CEO, UK India Business Council, reiterated that domestic markets need finance and global investors want healthy markets. So by identifying right business opportunities and capitalizing innovation and talent, India can forge better relationships with overseas investors, she added.

Citing affordability as the major concern for the SME sector not embracing I-T in a big way, Ms. Neha Lobo, Marketing Manager, IBM Software Group, advocated scalable and flexible IT solutions for SMEs. Businesses today need to develop vision to reach out globally. And technology is the bridge that can make domestic markets and global investors come on a common platform. By bringing SME-friendly software such as Lotus and packaging IT solutions into small affordable units, IBM is constantly working in making this a reality. This would cut down depreciation, she said on the issue of Leveraging technology and innovation to achieve scale.

Elaborating on pocket-friendly IT solutions for SMEs, Mr. Rajiv Sodhi, Director, Online Business, Microsoft India, advocated entrepreneurs to consider pay-as-you-go-up and try-before-you-buy approaches when buying software. Considering the high-price issue involved in the implementation of software, cloud computing and renting of software through service providers and vendors are two cheap options for small businesses, he advised while discussing Microsoft’s $2 per month low-cost solution for SMEs.

Also present at the occasion, Mr. Vipan Sawhney, Head Internet Data Centre Services, Progression Infonet, highlighted the need of turning IT into a business solution instead of a technology solution for SMEs. Renting IT services through vendors is a great option as it cuts down the maintenance costs, which is a big relief for SMEs. However, proper attention should be paid in differentiating ‘what is available’ from ‘what is needed’ and in finalizing user training plans to prevent post-deployment software problems, he added.

The issue of wiring SMEs with the help of IT needs more than software. Developing SME-focused software is not enough. Proper IT training is required to enable entrepreneurs to leverage the technology for business growth, stated Dr. Anil Wali, MD, Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer, IIT-Delhi. Bringing to focus the need of setting up IT institutes to encourage young entrepreneurs to come up with viable technology-driven business ideas, Mr. Wali urged the government to establish more business incubation centers across the country.

The journey from wireless to wired is an uphill task for SMEs. With technology changing every day, smart planning can go a long way in cutting down on unnecessary expenditure on soon-to-expire software,opined Dr. Mahesh Taneja, General Manager Finance and IT, Munjal Showa Ltd.

The session on empowering the SME was chaired by Mr. Prasanto K. Roy, President and Chief Editor, ICT Publications, CyberMedia, while the next session on information technology was chaired by Mr. Rajeev Karwal, Founder Director, Milagrow Business & Knowledge Solutions.