SMB players must revisit business models to stay afloat: IBM India


By Nishant Arora

Post COVID-19, the most critical need for the small and medium business (SMB) segment in India would need to revisit their business models to remain financially afloat while embracing secure remote tools to empower their workforce, according to a top IBM India executive.

There are over six crore micro industries, three lakh small and about 5,000 medium enterprises in the country and they would start planning and executing new digital journeys at a significantly faster pace by leveraging technologies across key functions — IT infrastructure, platform, application and business process.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, nearly 97 per cent of mid-market firms considered technology to be important for business success and most were already experimenting with cloud, AI and emerging technologies.

“We were witnessing double digit growth in this segment. The uncertainty triggered by Covid-19 is making them relook at their own IT setup to ensure that they fix the gaps which could hamper their ability to operate remotely,” Sandip Patel, General Manager, IBM India/South Asia, told IANS.

“This segment is usually more agile in their decision making and hence we are seeing several new engagements and discussions started already,” he added.

There is also a renewed awareness of the importance of a robust IT framework to stay connected with customers, employees, partners, to ensure continued growth and profitability.

“Technology will become the backbone for SMBs — not more a ‘good to have’ thread, but a ‘must have’ imperative for survival and future success. Accelerating digital transformation and uptake on analytics and AI-driven decision making are going to address the long-term challenges,” Patel emphasized.

For their business transformation, SMBs and mid-market customers will start accelerating their own adoption of tools and processes which will connect them with their clients, employees and partners in a more robust manner.

IBM helped Mother Dairy enable work from home for about 500 employees and ensured 100 per cent monitoring of the Mother Dairy’s data centre and disaster recovery infrastructure, all devices, successful back-ups and device physical health reports.

“We also ensured a strong security compliance process adherence, even during the lockdown,” said the company.

iQuippo, which is India’s first construction equipment sales and finance firm, used IBM blockchain technology to build a platform that not only offers its customers the option to choose from different FIs but also negotiates with them online on behalf of the FIs and provides customized solutions.

Another area where there would be significantly enhanced investments in India is security.

“Security issues will be further enhanced by the fact that a large number of users are accessing data remotely, as opposed to a controlled-access environment earlier,” Patel informed.

COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised on the critical importance of technology solutions that enable speed, flexibility, insight and innovation.

“We see technology as the unifying force as we navigate through these shifting paradigms amid this global crisis. We will see the impact of technologies like Cloud, AI, Security in three key areas — powering a new work paradigm, driving innovation for the greater good, and building sustained resilience,” the IBE executive emphasized.

(The author can be reached at [email protected])


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