Automation: Why it can be a game changer for SMEs?
This article, where our Chief Technology Officer Mr. Vikash K Agarwal has talked about his views on automation, was originally published in The Economic Times on 28th March, 2019.
Authors – Vikash K Agarwal & Pramit Pratim Ghosh
Since the turn of the new millennium, the business landscape in India has undergone a major change, and one of the key drivers of that change is digitisation. With every passing day, we, as a nation have taken significant steps towards becoming a less-paper, less-cash society – shining examples of the same being the Digital India initiative, UPI, Aadhar etc. Not just that, with greater digitisation, customers have become more empowered, and as a result, have become more demanding. If that was not enough, demonetisation in late 2016 and then GST in 2017 have also lent a great hand in this transformation, which has now made one thing clear – that technology is no longer a choice for businesses, but a necessity.
Having said that, technology is not just about moving with the times, but also about being more efficient. In today’s day and age, a typical small business interacts with numerous stakeholders – vendors, suppliers, customers, banks, tax return preparers, government bodies, large enterprises, distribution channels – you name it. Effectively managing all these relationships, while maintaining a high level of efficiency is a near impossibility if a business sticks to manual processes. Such a landscape essentially demands you to be comprehensive yet nimble at the same time, and the only way to change the game is to adopt automation for your business.
And indeed, automation can transform your business practices across multiple fronts. To start with, money, material and men – the fundamental resources of any business, big or small, can become much easier to manage, if the right technology is adopted. Accuracy becomes a way of life, as the risk of human error significantly comes down, which otherwise could lead to unpleasant or undesired situations for the business. Adopting the right technology ensures that your business processes are not running in silos but are all integrated at one point – so that your sales, purchases, payments, bank transactions, outstandings, taxes – talk to one another and gives you the correct view of your business in real-time. Decision making, which is largely reliant on the right information available to you at the right time, becomes a seamless activity, as technology allows you to access your data on the move. Your data in the digitised form has a greater chance of being safe in the face of natural disasters as well as secure in case secure in case of various kinds of attacks or malpractices.
Most importantly, automation allows you to grow. Storing all the information about your business in your mind may be good for your immediate growth, but it may help you only up to a certain level. If a business must grow further, it is important to free the mind space as well as time available, so that one can focus on expansion, while letting technology take over the work of managing and tracking the business data points.
So, then the natural question is, what could be the right technology for the typical Indian SME? The simple answer to that would be – that technology, which understands how a typical SME behaves.
For instance, an SME may not need to automate everything, right on Day 1, it’s needs keep evolving and growing as the business proceeds. Thus, we should ideally go for a technology which is able to walk alongside an SME in its growth journey. A small business thrives on quick exchange of goods or services against cash or credit, and typically, it doesn’t wait for the transaction to get recorded for the transaction to get completed. This calls for a technology which is delightfully fast to operate. In case of a system breakdown, small enterprises usually struggle to get the right solution from the right place. Hence the need for a technology which needs the minimum support, time and investment to get restored, for the business to get back on its feet quickly. Last but not the least, that technology will end up being the winner, which understands that SME’s face a lot of business exceptions in their day-to-day operations – and thus is able to take care of the same and allow the business to continue uninterrupted.
Needless to say, automation is the need of the hour, and is something that India’s vast SME sector needs to adopt in order to avoid inefficiencies and improve their productivity. Business owners now need to start looking at technology as a boon, which can take care of the processes, and allow them to focus on their customers, on their revenues and on their business growth. And in order to do that, you need systems which are fast, systems which are simple, systems which understand you as a business. Most importantly, you should look for solutions, which are not only well established, but also have been trusted by many businesses, over a long period of time. Only when you know you can rely on a technology, is when you can rest assured, that it will change the game for you.
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