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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Small firms urged to use tech to tide over the slowdown

  • Only 2 mn MSMEs have online presence, and so they must be advised on ways to improve their visibility and grow
  • Digital solutions need to be available in vernacular languages to improve reach and accessibility for MSMEs, say experts

MUMBAI : Micro, small and medium enterprises will increasingly require to adopt technology to remain competitive in the post-covid world, industry experts, participating in Mint’s Pivot or Perish panel discussion, said. While MSMEs are by and large struggling to strike a balance between financial obligations, and demand and supply constraints, experts said some hand-holding will help them choose the right technology and that can go a long way in managing the covid-19 crisis.

Kamal Kanth, regional vice president, Salesforce India, said the major issues for MSME clients include lack of payments from customers, and figuring out new revenue sources.

Out of the 75 million MSMEs, only about 2 million have an online presence. There is a lot of anxiety among customers as they realize the need for more technology solutions. Salesforce has witnessed customers in the education sector rapidly evolving by using technology during the crisis, and others can learn from them. “We need to help them find new channels to connect to customers and run their businesses on their phones from anywhere instead of depending on fixed devices," Kanth said.

Kanth added that SMEs need to understand audience management, and cater to them. To do that, SMEs must get advice on how to improve their visibility and grow effectively. “Do they want to do something like China with high-volume, low-level manufacturing, or a Japan with high-value manufacturing? SMEs need to figure out whether it is in industry 4.0 or IP creation, and industry bodies should guide them," he said.

Hardika Shah, founder and CEO, Kinara Capital, said digital solutions need to be available in vernacular languages to improve reach and accessibility.

Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India president Deepak Jain said financial products also need to be digitized. “ So, we need to figure out ways to digitize and provide easy and flexible loans to MSMEs, which will give them the required confidence to run their businesses effectively," he added.

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