After examining and understanding the challenges to technology adoption in small business in light of the Intuit collaborated MSME study, it is time for us to dive right into the solutions! Just as concrete as the challenges are, so are the solutions. But before I move on to the plausible solutions, let us first let us look at the type of businesses that emerged while looking at technology adoption. The study was qualitatively able to classify businesses into three categories, namely – tech non-adopters, tech aspirers and moderate tech adopters. Identifying which category your small business falls under will help you understand how much of change needs to take place in order use technology to its full potential in your firm.
To stay true to the definition, I am going to go ahead and quote word for word from the MSME study – “Tech non-adopters do not employ technology to any great extent and rely mostly on manual methods. They tend to be older manufacturing, established businesses who practice “old school” business development and management.
Tech aspirers represent a mix of service and manufacturing units but tend to be on the smaller size. The business attitude among this group is “ambitious but cautious”, as this group is usually comprised of new entrepreneurs with younger, more inexperienced management. While tech aspirers have a much higher awareness of the beneﬁts of technology than non-adopters, they also exhibit low engagement and only adopt technology solutions when they are tried and tested by others.
The ﬁnal group – moderate tech adopters – is the most technology-savvy of the sampling and uses technology to keep ahead of trends and interact with clients in various aspects of their business, although not always consistently and without struggle. These businesses are mostly found in the services sector. Moderate tech adopters have an evolved understanding and use of technology but this clearly remains at the nascent stage.” As we moved further into the research, a clear and mutual goal between Intuit and India’s Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises that arose was the need to ensure that the country’s small businesses have good access to the technology that could support their business growth. The “how” behind this goal, comes down to some very specific, yet extremely simple solutions.
Increase awareness A systematic approach to increasing awareness about the benefits of technology adoption has to be created and implemented. Another important aspect to raise awareness about is, are the government and other institutional schemes available for the beneﬁt of small businesses. All stakeholders, including the Government of India, training institutions and the private sector must join hands in making sure that information about the available resources and the benefits of technology reach the country’s SME ecosystem.
The cost solution Demonstrating the value add for the business is critical and should be done using cost–beneﬁt analyses and simple comparisons of growth between traditional operations versus IT-based approaches. The use of indigenously developed technology could significantly lower the cost challenge. Also according to the study, “68 per cent of MSMEs say they adopted technology solutions only after seeing other businesses using it to their beneﬁt. Furthermore, 36 per cent of all survey respondents said that hearing from other small businesses about their experiences with technology would be helpful.” This makes developing resources such as case studies and testimonials crucial. These resources will not only educate other small business owners about the benefits of technology, but will justify the initial investment being made, since the return on investment would be clear to see!
Step up on infrastructure In order to deal with infrastructural limitations, features such as “easy instalment, credit options, and pay-as-you-go options can provide sustainable solutions toward addressing cost concerns. Additionally, software should be easy to use and offered in local languages to breakdown the perceived complexity of IT.” Indigenously developed technology and infrastructure will not only drive easier technology adoption, but also will pave the way for more research and development in the nation, and facilitate more small business entry into the tech domain.
Mapping manpower needs What needs to be made very clear to small business owners is that technology adoption does not mean putting in place an extensive IT team. Contrary to this belief, most technology that is relevant to a small business is something that can easily be handled by existing employees. Small businesses should understand that IT support can always be outsourced to an SAAS (software as a service) providing company. Staying secure Strong passwords, secure socket layer certificates, secure cloud-based apps, encryption, firewall settings, anti-virus software and so many more security measures are available at the disposal of small business owners. Again, as I have been repeatedly stressing – it comes down to increased awareness and understanding. Working towards better community engagement and sharing best practices is all that it takes! The key to increased technology adoption among lies in the understanding of barriers, solutions and multiple stakeholders coming together.