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The impact of technology on Small to Medium size enterprises

The current business landscape across the globe is being led by digital technologies that are transforming the way systems and processes work. Business concepts and models have been revolutionized as a result of the introduction of technology.

While no business could safeguard themselves against the pandemic, the smaller businesses were far largely hit. To stay afloat, small and medium businesses began to embrace technology as a business enabler.

In hindsight, the lockdown acted as a catalyst to increase the pace of digital adoption in India, especially for SMEs. By leveraging technology, small businesses were able to speed up, simplify and automate various everyday tasks, thereby truly enabling the digitization of ‘Bharat’.

According to research done by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), SMEs that adopt new technology have 10 points higher job growth and 11 points higher revenue growth than low tech SMEs. Small businesses, especially brick-and-mortar stores bore heavy losses during the lockdown because of unsold inventory, negligible sales and lack of in-person traffic due to social distancing.

By adopting digital technologies and integrating them into their daily operations, SMEs were able to give their customers, local community and partners the best opportunity to survive as well as thrive during adverse times.

Here’s how:

Ration stores embraced tech:

The pandemic changed the way small businesses operated, forcing them to embrace technology to move online. Ration and household purchases which earlier remained a heavy in-person experience exhibited new digital behaviour. Due to the dwindling footfall, store owners had no option but to shift online. The adoption of UPI increased manifolds as the popularity of currency notes fell down. Several small business owners started using Khatabook, Dukaan, OkCredit to digitize bills, manage finances and customer communication, among other business operations.

Home service startups became popular:

Companies like Urban Company and Housejoy have created a niche for themselves in the home service marketplace.  These startups operate as a master app, bringing together services that include but are not limited to grooming, beauty services, repairs etc. During the lockdown, both these starts became synonymous to handling mundane household tasks on the go.

Restaurants started online food delivery:

The lockdown was the harshest on the hospitality and travel industry. With the scepticism around going out, restaurant owners started listing themselves on Zomato and Swiggy, making both the delivery apps the saviour of bad times. With the help of food delivery apps, food outlet owners were able to expand their reach to a large number of customers, do customer tracking, provide better delivery and service management.

Teaching/Training moved online:

Individual tutors, educators, coaches, authors, speakers, and trainers who used to teach in person figured out ways to list products online. Startups and platforms like Spayee, Teachable etc., empowering content creators, trainers, institutes and educators to create, market and distribute their courses through a secure, white-labelled platform.

In 2020, SMEs stood out as the key driver behind the economic development of our country. This sector has the potential to spread growth and create jobs and is correctly referred to as the backbone of the economy. The synergies of integrating SMEs with technology will enable India’s growth, increase the digital footprint and fulfil the goal of India’s $5 trillion economy.

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