As countries struggle to manage the impact of COVID-19, the entire world is witnessing an unprecedented scenario. Uncertainty looms in this crisis, especially for the most vulnerable: the small and medium-sized business (SMB) sector. The Asia/Pacific SMB sector, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of the region’s businesses and nearly 60 percent of the workforce, generates at least half of the region’s GDP and has been severely harmed by lockdowns, travel bans, and other pandemic-control measures.
Despite the fact that more stimulus programs are being developed to help the industry, many businesses have been forced to shut down for an unknown period of time, resulting in unexpected costs and losses. Consumers have come to rely on online platforms to purchase products and services as their mobility has been restricted, and SMBs who have been quick to respond have learned to use simple digital technology and platforms to respond to customers. What has become clear in these exceptional circumstances is that SMBs operating in the emerging digital economies are accelerating their digitization activities in order to achieve resiliency.
SMBs have attempted to make the best use of their digital resources to maintain cashflow and sustain their customer base in the midst of a significant economic downturn. Customers are no longer able to come to them, so working out the best ways to meet them has become important. While many small businesses still use cloud storage and collaboration tools, this is the year that they can begin to use platforms that incorporate AI, security, and always-on connectivity into their workflows.
94 percent of SMBs in Asia Pacific have become more reliant on technology to ensure business continuity during COVID-19, and nearly 70 percent say they are accelerating the digitalization of their businesses because of the pandemic.
Broadly speaking, there are four key areas of Digital Transformation for SMB that business leaders would require to focus on:
Businesses are seeking more ways to use agile, remote workforces as data becomes more available and security becomes more reliable. The outbreak of COVID-19 has sparked a surge in demand for remote staff and the resources that help them. New small business technology would concentrate on allowing remote workers to function productively from anywhere, ideally with access to the same essential apps and capabilities as in the office. The widespread adoption of remote work has necessitated the development of technology that is readily adaptable and accessible from any location. This is primarily due to the fact that cloud systems are more adaptable and can be adapted to suit any business’s needs. If this pandemic has shown SMBs something, it’s that agility is a decisive factor in whether or not they can stay afloat.
Automation & Insights
Small companies will need versatile and responsive infrastructures that provide scalability and agility as they adjust to the challenges of Covid-19. Some of these smart technologies were already available in the SMB market thanks to the cloud, but it’s becoming clear that small businesses will need machine learning tools to help simplify integration with a larger cloud ecosystem.
Small companies are fast learning that the easiest way to connect is to provide instant, open, and seamless access to consumer data, regardless of where they communicate. CRMs such as HubSpot, SugarCRM are revolutionizing customer experience with personalized solutions that connect automation, monitoring, and analysis resources into a single solution. To reach their customers where they are, many SMBs are embedding their sales management processes in cloud-based CRMs.
Security & Business Continuity
If more companies move their consumer data and knowledge to the cloud, the need for proper protection and business continuity will only increase in 2020. It’s not enough to put your defense in the hands of just someone. Strict protection requirements and vulnerability detection are needed when dealing with the types of consumer data that companies store and use online. Cloud systems have proven to be almost as stable as on-premise implementations, if not more so. Public Cloud providers such as AWS, for example, provide built-in encryption and vulnerability detection, ensuring that data and services in the cloud are safe.
SMBs are the most fragile sector during a crisis like COVID-19 when their commercial processes are jeopardized. SMBs who are quick to understand to use even the most simple new technology, on the other hand, are taking the right actions to protect their company and workers. SMBs must emphasize digital resiliency alongside other company recovery activities, including the fact that recovery can take time. SMBs must keep in mind that their scale helps them to completely use emerging technology at a quicker rate, which will help them grow faster. For SMBs, digital resiliency entails more than just keeping business as normal and ensuring cash flow.