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The IT industry expects spike in interest from SMEs  in automating shop-floor and logistics with the regulatory push from the government.. Photo: iStock
The IT industry expects spike in interest from SMEs in automating shop-floor and logistics with the regulatory push from the government.. Photo: iStock

SMEs go digital during pandemic, but cautiously

  • The lockdown has helped businesses across sectors realise the need for a robust IT infrastructure and while those that can afford the transition are roping in IT service providers, many await further financial clarity before taking the plunge

MUMBAI: Publisher and stationery company Navneet Education had started its digital transformation years ago, but the covid-induced lockdown caught the 60-year old company off-guard like many others. Anticipating the need for remote data analysis in these times, the company had to expedite the process to upgrade its systems in the middle of the lockdown.

“It was definitely a challenge to migrate our complete landscape during the lockdown, as our data centre is on company premises. We were already using SAP ERP solutions but considering the latest digital trends, information availability on different devices was still challenging, so we implemented the latest version of SAP S4 HANA 1909 and made it live during covid situation in mid-April," said Nilay Shah, head – IT, Navneet Education Ltd.

The publisher initiated this technology shift to enable faster processing of reports for general ledger and product costing. Dairy company Mother Dairy also undertook a similar digital transformation by rolling out data centre and data recovery infrastructure through IBM as part of its business continuity requirements during the lockdown.

Mumbai-based IT solution provider Clover Infotech had been approached by a number of NBFCs, small finance companies and mid-sized industries like West Coast Frozen Foods deploy and migrate cloud solutions and advanced ERP solutions to help make faster and better data driven decisions during the pandemic.

The lockdown has helped businesses across sectors realise the need for a robust IT infrastructure and while those that can afford the transition are roping in IT service providers, many await further financial clarity before taking the plunge.

The IT industry expects spike in interest from small and medium enterprises (SME) in automating shop-floor and logistics with the regulatory push from the government. According to IT service provider IBM, before covid-19 itself there had been some accelerated adoption of public cloud by small and medium businesses. In the post-covid-19 scenario, they have been forced to scale faster to meet the demand of a decentralized workforce. SMEs are now covering digital transformation journeys, that usually require years, in a couple of weeks.

The primary focus of these organizations has been to build remote collaboration solutions that will enable their employees to work without disruption and other immediate challenges such as data security issues, said Ajay Mittal, CDO & Director of Digital Sales & Commercial, IBM India South Asia. "Solutions like disaster recovery on cloud-which for better availability or virtual desktop solutions which support remote operation of their teams are some areas where we see significantly enhanced interest from the customers," he said.

Non-technology sector SMEs have been fairly low on tech adoption traditionally while larger enterprises have done better, said Gaurav Hazra, senior director & head- India Market Development, Nasscom said. “Traditionally MSMEs have found IT costs prohibitive but cloud-based subscription models for these services can make entry much easier. It is too early to monitor investment spike in the space (due to Covid-19) because many are still struggling to keep the business running," said Hazra.

Nasscom seeks to build a marketplace model for IT SMEs and non-IT ones to find the best solutions to match industry needs but they need more clarity from industries on their requirements. In fact, the increased IT adoption and clear industrial requirements will provide a fairer chance for specialised and niche SME IT solution providers said Hazra.

Research firm IDC India noted there is a huge demand coming from government bodies to improve citizen health services, and state governments will partner smaller IT service providers for niche projects such as leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to derive insights.

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