Author - Shri. Jitendra Singh, CIO, JK Cement Ltd; National Advisory Member, CIMSME

With the continuous increase in people getting connected through Online Channel including Websites, Portals and Mobile Apps, it has become a necessity for the Smallest of business to have their presence in Digital Space.

More often than not, we face this question that how is Digital going to make difference in the MSME space, especially Micro and Small setup. By asking this, we conveniently miss the fact that having an online presence has direct impact on New and repeat business. Worldwide, various statistics have indicated that businesses who have opted for Digital have higher Revenue and profits compared to their peers in the same industry, as much as 19% more business than the setup who are not Digital.

Digital is not only for the Large Enterprises, but for the MSME as well, and, is not a matter of choice, but slowly becoming a compulsion for business sustenance. An believe me, it is not that expensive a proposition as you may be considering it to be.

So what in Digital? While the generic definition points towards SMACI (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and IoT), I would include even the basic automation also in Digital Circle because being a relatively smaller setup in comparison to an Enterprise, it is not wise to consider Basic automation and Digital as two different streams.

First things first, identify the business and services you wish to be identified as in the Digital space, followed by some research on the existing digital stories to follow. This does not mean that we cannot innovate and create our own unique story, but it only help us understand the word Digital in our own language (it is very convenient to understand the concept which relates to our business closely). Once identification and research is done, we should seek assistance from an experienced individual or company (which could be again an MSME setup in IT field) for us to steer in the Digital world.

Here are few tips in each of the verticals in Digital world :

1. Social . : We must have our presence in the most popular Online and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to connect with the larger set of people in an online space. Creating a Page in these social media channels. With a little guidance, you can do it on your own.

2. Mobile : With mobile becoming one of the most prominent source of information and communication, it is almost necessary for you to be in sync with the times through Apps and chat groups. I have seen some very small setups using WhatsApp as a business channel to popularize and transact online. You must also have the links to Online Payment providers or a seamless business transaction, thereby helping the potential customer to find it convenient in dealing with you. While most individuals carry a Smart Phone with them, it would not be a bad idea to connect through an sms engine also, ensuring that you reach out to the people with a basic phone as well (largely depends on the nature of your business)

3. Analytics : In the first go, while this appears to be an overkill for an MSME, we must not ignore the advantages of Data and Analysis around it. The analysis of data actually helps in identifying the potential customer, as well as understanding the opportunities of repeat business which could be based on a Geography, Individual, Season, etc. indirectly, it helps you save on the wastage of pushing your product in wrong market.

4. Cloud : Cloud is a wonderful mean of saving your investments I the IT Hardware and some Applications. It is a sort of community area wherein you can get some space allocated for yourself in Digital world, and you can increase or decrease that space based on the requirement of your business dynamically. No need to invest in buying Servers, Applications which will also occupy space in your precious real estate. Again with the help of an expert (individual or a company), you can get going easily. It is not that complicated as it appears.

5. IoT : Called Internet of Things, This is dependent on the nature of business you are in. there is no vanila solution on IoT, and will require some understanding of your business to come up with a revenue generating idea using IoT. But yes, there are small players who have benefitted big time by investing in IoT. The smallest example could be a sensor in a Voltage stabilizer, which can store relevant information for the manufacturer to be provided as a constant feedback on the environment, usage pattern, wear and tears and service requirement.

Along with these, you should have a website/portal of your own, for the New as well as existing customers to reach out to you for any support, complimented with the information available online for an additional/repeat purchase.

Looks to much? It is simpler than you think, and is very important for you to seriously think about it. I remember in one of my address to MSME attendees art Hyderabad four years back, there were lot of queries and apprehensions about adopting the Digital (like it is complicates, we don't need it, it must be expensive, etc. et.), but I had some smiling faces also in the same MSME forum, who endorsed the idea and said that Digital has definitely helped them grow and achieve better results.

MSME is the backbone of Economy and we must continue to grow and strive for more and more efficient and effective ways of conducting business.

Renowned Subject Matter Experts as Mentor, Coach and Adviser