Technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. It is difficult to talk meaningfully about one without the other
Bill Gates has rightly summed up the relationship between information technology and businesses for today’s time and age. It is no longer just the big business houses deploying or leveraging advanced technology solutions. Even small businesses in smaller Indian cities use technology to provide their customers with seamless experiences. The trend is largely driven by widescale smartphone penetration, availability of fast-speed internet, and data at cheap rates. By the end of 2022, India’s smartphone user base is expected to reach 800 million, indicating that it is highly beneficial for businesses to integrate technology into their operations if they haven’t already.
The post-pandemic impact also drives the increased technology adoption in small Indian cities. People had to look for innovative ways to do business when lockdowns restricted access to public spaces. Small and medium enterprises such as consumer product industries, retail shops, fashion, and groceries went fully digital to cater to the transformed consumer demand, behavior, and expectations post-pandemic. They are selling products online or sending e-invoices to consumers, but they are also using technology to build more sustainable digital businesses.
Here are some of the technologies that have empowered small businesses in smaller Indian towns:
Digital transformation is leading the change for small businesses as they can reach global audiences using technology. Chatbots have been around for a while. Now, they are witnessing a widescale adoption by smaller companies even in non-metro cities of the country.
Chatbots are AI-enabled chat agents that answer customer queries through voice or text messages. They can respond to many customer inquiries and enable conversation with a customer in a simple format. They have emerged as a perfect, cost-effective tool for small businesses.
For example, a chatbot can easily handle a customer query if an e-commerce store needs help. These chatbots are highly scalable and can handle multiple requests at once without a large-scale customer support team. Small businesses in India are using chatbots to provide 24/7 assistance to their customers. More than 40% of Indian customers trust assistance offered by chatbots.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML)
Internet of Things (IoT) connects physical devices via the internet to collect and share data. How are businesses benefitting from data sharing and collections? Small companies are using these technologies to monitor and operate a range of business processes. They are leveraging IoT data to gain valuable insights into customer behavior and expectations.
Like other technologies, the usage of machine learning has spread beyond big enterprises. Now SMEs are also using ML to enhance their products and services. ML can be integrated with AI and Cloud to further bring automation to businesses as a more versatile, agile, and easy-to-use technology.
In the pandemic year 2020, the digital payment transactions in India reached 25.5 billion. The segment is continuing to register a strong rally. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revealed that online transaction volumes from tier 2 and 3 cities on private payment gateway grew 45.6% and 54.3%, respectively, in 2021. Demonetisation had pushed a lot of businesses and companies towards digital payments, but the pandemic led to a tremendous number of small businesses moving to digital payments. The adoption of digital payments is prominent among MSMEs as 72% of their payments happened digitally in 2021. As businesses, both big and small, continue adopting digital payment methods, the volume and value of digital transactions are set to reach 86 billion and Rs 238 trillion by 2025, respectively.
Technological advancements have enabled small businesses to bring more efficiency to their operations in several ways. Whether it's collaborating with remote colleagues or using video conferencing software, talking to customers, or requesting a Google review, technology has enabled businesses to reach their goals more effectively.
The article has been written by Shashank Pandey, Co-founder of ConveGenius