IT tools put to effective use by small businesses

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Be it attracting talent or finding new markets, thousands of small and medium-scale businesses (SMBs) have started using information technology tools, and several IT companies now offer them products and services.
For instance, Google India has launched ‘India Get Your Business Online.’ It is aimed at helping five lakh SMBs go online in three years. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has rolled out iON, an integrated IT solution for SMBs, and Microsoft India has a range of products and applications for this sector.
IT penetration among SMBs is at different levels. Those at the entry level have the basic hardware and software, while those at the utility level use these in their everyday business activities. SMBs that go for enhanced IT usage are those that use it as a process tool. Interestingly, several small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector are rapidly converting their static websites into data-base oriented and interactive ones and those in the B-to-C segment are using social networking sites, says Rajveer Singh, managing director of Apex Cluster Development Services.
Small-scale businesses in the B-to-B segment could also use these sites to generate leads, says Yashraj Vakil, COO, Red Digital.
Rajiv Sodhi, director-SMB, Microsoft India, says SMEs are in two main categories — those in the mid-market segment, and the very small entities. IT use differs between these two. The top 50,000 units use IT for better business processes like cost management. They use it as a growth driver. The second category mainly uses personal computers to automate and manage information. An entrepreneur will need web presence, communication tools, and social networking. Adoption of IT among these units is set to increase.
While SMBs in the consulting, financial and IT services use the networking sites effectively, those in manufacturing have a specific market and are mostly part of a supply chain. Even they have started using online tools to attract new talent and get consultancy.
Penetration of websites in SMEs is less than 5 per cent. The Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises is working with Google India to help more units have their websites. It is also working with TCS to develop a cloud for SMEs, says its secretary-general Anil Bhardwaj.

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