New Delhi [India], January 29 (ANI/Mediawire): The COVID-19 pandemic has served as the greatest catalyst for digital transformation. This is more evident than ever before amongst India's small and medium businesses (SMBs)who, in partnership with Cisco, are kick-starting their digital journey to future-proof themselves against the next normal
A world shaped by COVID-19 looks nothing like the one in which we lived in 2019 -professionals working from home for months on end; consumers, agnostic of age, turning to online purchases of everything from groceries to electronics; businesses rushing to go digital practically overnight. It seems surreal that so much has changed so soon. Yet, the transformation is real, thanks to technology.
The transition, though, hasn't been smooth for everyone. For technology giants and other large companies, the digital overhaul started even before the pandemic, putting them in pole position amid the pandemic. The smaller firms, however, were largely unprepared for the rapid move to digital that the crisis necessitated.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) form the bulwark of the Indian economy and are, therefore, critical to the country's sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Yet, these businesses face a unique set of challenges in going digital.
First, unlike large companies, SMBs often operate without dedicated information technology (IT) teams. Second, smaller firms often have limited working capital and are therefore more cautious of making big-ticket investments. And in uncertain times like the pandemic, these firms must find a balance between preserving cashflows and investing in future growth. Third, the adoption of technology has historically been low amongst SMBs.
However, this is changing, with more and more SMBswilling to reimagine their business for operations post-pandemic, looking to carve new revenue streams, enhance customer interactions, and improve supply chain management, all through technology.
Fourth, smaller firms may not be equipped to manage such a large-scale, seemingly complex transformation, in addition to monitoring and addressing any anomalies that may arise. Finally, they are wary about data security and privacy, especially given rising cybersecurity risks.
So, how do SMBs take the technology leap to not only sustain but thrive? For SMBs, digital solutions have to be easy to deploy, use, manage, and measure, and available in pay-as-you-go models. To help SMBs accelerate their digital journey, Cisco has been focused on creating purpose-built solutions, developing Cisco Designed.
Built around four key tenets -- connect, collaborate, compute, and secure -- the Cisco Designed portfolio provides a range of digital solutions that enables SMBs to connect to the digital network securely, collaborate seamlessly, and leverage data centre solutions.
Panish PK, Managing Director, Small Business, Cisco India, said, "It allows SMBs to operate without having to invest in IT personnel, as they can tap into a pool of partners trained by Cisco to handle any technology-related challenges."
Additionally, other toolkits for small businesses are - Cisco Meraki, a cloud-managed IT solution that enables businesses to build a high-density network quickly and easily, and it can be monitored using a centralized dashboard; and Cisco's Secure Collaboration Solution, which is geared to help small businesses create a secure network to enable remote as well as on-premise work. Ecosphere, a shared workspace provider, used Cisco Meraki to create a secure network that caters to its customers' diverse demands and is easy to manage.
While ease of deployment is crucial, it must be coupled with ease of procurement. Through its wide network of channel partners and the latest initiative like Webex.com, Cisco is making it simple for SMBs to buy its suite of products and solutions. For instance, Artflute, an online art company, is leveraging Webex to interact with artists, interior designers, and vendors easily, ensuring that the personal touch -- a rarity in the pandemic -- is retained.
Cisco has digitized about 20 new SMB customers a day over the past year. The company believes that this is just the beginning of a revolution, as many more SMBs realize that digitally disrupting themselves is the key to winning in the next normal.
As Panish PK concludes, "Small businesses are the bedrock of India's economy. According to a recent Cisco report, the digitalization of small businesses could contribute $216 billion to the country's GDP. Our goal is to enable MSMEs in India to accelerate their digital transformation and pave India's way to a USD five-trillion economy."
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