Moving into the new millennium, technology advancement has never been at a greater pace. The explosion of massive sales of smartphones and tablets have driven up the supply of smartphone applications. With more smartphone applications and connectivity through Wi-Fi, cellular 4G and advanced networks, this spurs the growth of cloud applications to fuel the need of use for smartphone applications. The usage of applications has expanded beyond games to personal growth, public services and business use. In some ways, we have seen these applications disrupt many traditional businesses which are being displaced, such as printing companies, taxi companies and hotels.
The future expanded application use with Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IOT) & Wearables, and Virtual Reality technologies will see even more businesses being displaced. Based on a report1 on March 2017, there are over 5 million applications that are developed and used globally.
Opportunities for SMEs
Today’s technologies and social media networks have narrowed the gaps between large smaller companies. In the past, large companies had huge budgets in marketing,wholesale and price advantage, and access to efficient business applications, while smaller companies had smaller budgets and resources to manage smaller and niche clientele.
Today, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the perceived high cost of digital transformation is no longer a barrier. In some ways, technology has reversed the advantage towards SMEs due to its flexibility and speed in changing its business models to suit the fast changing business climates.
How SMEs evolve leaner and stronger by using digitisation
In sales and marketing, we can see more SMEs being advertised in multiple social media networks, using videos and creative posts to gain new clientele. Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) methodologies are also widely used to gain marketing share in the internet world.
In operations, more SMEs are using Cloud applications and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD). These increase the mobility, speed and access to gain operational advantage and, at the same time, are critical to many companies in order to gain competitive edge today.
In human resource management, functions outsourcing, digitization and automation have replaced some of the under-utilised and expensive business functions. In others, they would have completely displaced the traditional work functions that were once important to these companies.
SMEs Coping with Big Data and Analytics
In business management, big data and analytics are generated from cloud applications to provide management with latest analysis of their sales, clientele information, operational efficiencies and many business aspects. This helps the management to make better decisions with more in-depth knowledge of their business and clientele. TechTarget website2 states that the main reason for SMEs not leveraging on big data is due to the lack of resources and skill sets.
Different SME approach to digital transformation
Even though many SMEs are busy transforming their business workflows using technologies, there are still many SMEs not changing fast enough. These companies would face similar issues with hiring and retaining talents, increasing sales in the competitive markets, being relevant and important to their clientele, and being productive and efficient in operations. Many of these SMEs perceive lack of resources, amongst other factors, as difficulties to change. However, the fast change of pace in all business climates ill soon force them to change to stay relevant or cease.
- Roy Toh, CEO, Terra Systems Pte Ltd -