I attended a day long conference last week at Delhi on how SMEs can use ICT and Social Media. This post published some key information, observations and ideas jotted during the conference, which was organized by IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) in association with Indiamart.com and FISME.
Small and Medium (or Midsized) enterprises, termed as SMEs (aka Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Small and Medium Businesses (MSME, SMBs)), contribute significantly to Nation’s growth. There’re about 35 million SMEs in India. They account for about 99% of the companies in numbers and about 40-50% in terms of contribution to GDP. SMEs will have some typical challenges and characteristics. While they possess all the zeal to expland and grow their business, they won’t have the financial muscle like a large corporation to spend heavily on R&D, Marketing, Advertising or other investments/expenditures. This makes them cautious about every rupee they spend.
Govt of India has lots of schemes for SMEs. Mr Dinesh Rai, Secretary, Ministry of MSMEs, Govt of India briefed about few of them. Govt subsidises spend on skill development, (Upto 30% for plants and machinery, Rs 30-60 per person per hour for skill development (depending on rural/urban) is paid by Govt. Those who wish to get trained will get vouchers with which they can redeem in partner institutions and get trained, Upto 60 lakhs is provided for institutions to set up incubation centres and so on). Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitr Yojna will help emerging entrepreneurs. Full details are available at msme.gov.in
SMEs appear to be highly confused or misled on the ICT (Internet Communication Technology) front. Most of the enterprises do not have an online presence, which is very critical these days. There’re 35 million SMEs in India, but only 0.5 million registered domains. Gautham Gandhi of Google India was hot favourite among the audience post session, as everyone wanted to know how to select a SEO vendor and how much to pay. Gautham did his best to clarify that any claim made by SEO vendors that they’re associated/affiliated/partners with Google are outright false and such companies will not be able to produce any documentation to the effect. Also its best for business owners to spend some time and effort to understand the basics of SEO, Social Media and other aspects, so that they would know what they’re dealing with when the work is outsourced to other companies.
Similarly Social Media is something companies definitely adopt to, but expecting overnight return from Social Media spend would result in failure. At this stage social media can be used to create better brand awareness, better brand recall and loyalty. Once these 3 are achieved, sales will naturally improve. But expecting sales to increase just after creating a fan page in facebook can be catastrophic. (This is my personal opinion)
SME Portal Milagrows co founder Rajiv Kharwal spoke about how SMEs can leverage open source softwares. Though there’re open source softwares available for almost all business requirements, because there’s been no awareness, because there’s no proper training and service available, open source softwares are seldom used in SMEs. Softwares like Sugar CRM, Orange HRM and .proj are very helpful tools for managing business. Full details at milagrow.in
Mobile marketing and online listing (directory services) were other topics of discussion. Most of the speakers also spent good amount of time talking about their companies and their service offerings. if you’re interested and have some time, excerpts from all sessions are available at IAMAI Official Blog