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SMBs: Adopt technology wisely to stay competitive

Amit Raj Bathla, Director & Head of Marketing, APAC, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise | July 8, 2016
Technology is a key driving force of growth and innovation, but only when adopted wisely.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Amid the global economic downturn, Singapore slipped a spot in this year's ranking by the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, and is now ranked the world's fourth most competitive economy. With SMBs making up 99 percent of Singapore's businesses, they inevitably face risks posed by the uncertain economic environment, such as higher operating costs and lagged business growth. In order to stay ahead of the curve, SMBs have to employ new technology to boost productivity and develop enhanced capabilities.

Increasingly, the Government is placing strong emphasis on SMB-focused initiatives to aid businesses in today's digital working environment. SMBs are urged to partner with government agencies such as A*STAR and SPRING Singapore, which have rolled out various programmes helping SMBs easily implement technology in their business practices.

The Technology Adoption Programme (TAP) is an example of an initiative launched by A*STAR to make technology more accessible for SMBs, linking businesses that lack expertise with relevant technology solutions or providers. The programme has seen more than 1,800 technology adoptions since its launch in 2013, with more SMBs collaborating with the agency to adopt its technology offerings.

In particular, many SMBs have incorporated cloud technologies in their businesses. A recent study by eMarketer found that 27 percent of small businesses in Singapore have migrated at least half of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, and 46 percent of small businesses will be doing so as well. Cloud technology provides a data secure platform, along with versatility and flexibility to help SMBs streamline their core business processes so they can shift their focus towards business growth.

However, not all new technologies are beneficial to the business. With innovation happening faster than ever before, there is a strong temptation for SMBs to invest in the newest and coolest technology without careful consideration on how it can help achieve their business goals.

In order to make an informed decision, businesses need to consider the following before making the purchase:

  • By making this investment, will it help improve employee efficiency?
  • Will this investment increase customer satisfaction?
  • Will operating costs be reduced by this investment?

If the new technology fails to satisfy any of the above criteria, there is a need to reevaluate the purchase decision. On the contrary, should they come to a conclusion that the investment helps drive productivity and efficiency, the business should ensure that they reap the maximum benefit from it.

To achieve that, it is crucial for SMBs to work with the supplier to train their employees on what the new technology offers. Businesses should foster the partnership in training, or risk not utilising the new technology to its full potential:

  • Without the necessary coaching, employees will become a barrier to adopting the technology and miss out on the improvement in efficiency for which the purchasing decision was made. They may not embrace the new technology and the business might be left with the burden of unutilised equipment.
  • Employees may use the new technology, but they will not take advantage of the new ways of working that it was supposed to encourage, i.e. they continue to work the way they used to. Again, this is a real risk to the business as tools that are under-consumed and under-utilised become a waste of time and money.

 

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