By: Rajendra Singh Bhandari, Director - Systems Engineering, NetApp Marketing & Services India
August 30th is celebrated as Small industries day - an effort to support and promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India. In the last few years, the SME segment in India has indeed achieved notable growth. Today the sector contributes 22% to India’s GDP, up from 17% in 2013. The Government too is continuously encouraging SMEs to grow and is extending the required support through various initiatives.
SMEs account for 45% of total industry output and 40% of total exports. They are a real driving force in the economy, with widespread effect on everything from poverty levels and employability to the allocation of activity in the economy and beyond. However, despite growth and aforementioned Government push, the biggest challenge faced by SMEs is the ability to scale up and compete on macro levels – either on a national or global front.
The reasons are manifold – labour intensive methods, lack of technology/infrastructure, financial constraints. The industry and the Government have already realized these challenges and have begun working to create a more technology integrated, digitally enabled models to help SMEs/MSME’s. One of the ways to augment this effort is by using the power of data.
As India moves forward on the path of Digital Transformation, the root of innovation lies in accurate data mining, leading to usable insights. Whether reshaping current business models or scaling up, improvements backed with actual insights can solve challenges and help businesses flourish long-term. And it is data that can make this possible.
Enterprises of today are sitting on a veritable gold mine of data. Be it any industry, they not only have access to a quantitative database of consumers/vendors but, at any given point they can usually predict the pulse of the entire industry or economy via behavioural insights from their most valuable users. Thus, they can pre-empt necessities or react quickly to changing demands from customers and environmental conditions. This can help in making correct and informed business decisions. Relevant, timely and consistent data has a direct impact on the growth of any organization.
For example, under GST, every minute detail of every item sold will be digitally uploaded in a central tax database for around eight million businesses. If the average is about 120 invoices per business it still means billion records every month. Just imagine the amount of data! For SMEs, we are looking at a national repository of actionable data. In future, If and when this data is made available to enterprises, it will help in better planning and management. We are talking about actual transformation based on a transparent and interactive system/dialogue between the Government and the enterprise.
That being said, becoming data centric is not a small undertaking. Disparate geographies, limited infrastructure and financial backbone means that most often, SMEs face a lot of challenges searching for smarter and dynamic solutions at lower costs. Many have limited scaling up opportunities and find it highly difficult to invest in massive infrastructure changes. SMEs require ways that can help them access data quickly, efficiently and at an affordable cost.
Here, technologies like flash/cloud can help. Flash is built to accelerate and future-proof data by simplifying storage infrastructure and business operations. All-flash storage systems are capable of adding much needed speed, scalability and responsiveness to enterprise operations; to quickly extract value from data. Software-only versions for use in cloud environments can aid in scaling accordingly. Similarly, customized hybrid cloud models can cost effectively store data, helping in better administration and optimal use of manpower.
In short, the right technology coupled with measured approaches to manage critical, real time, and mobile data will help SMEs grow from local businesses to national/global entities. Whether the focus is on data insights or responding to customer needs via data – a digital focused, data led infrastructure support is necessary.
SME growth is the bedrock of the Digital India dream. Combined with a young, passionate workforce, enterprises are already looking at a bright future. Thus, just a few technology interventions - in terms of data accessibility, and Indian enterprises will be all set to make their mark in global markets.