October 19, 2020, 5:26 am 2

A Digital Strategy roadmap for SME's to bounce back after the pandemic impact?

Let me start this post with practical challenges that are faced by SME’s while adopting the digital route. Before, I get into the challenges, what I mean by digital can be summarized as content, analytics, adapting digital tools and technologies and digital marketing. While working with small and medium business on their business plans and implementing them, we have noticed a clear affinity towards digital marketing. This inspite of the very real Covid challenges that the SME segment has been battered with during this time. The resilience that the industry has shown in the face of Covid has been tremendous and we all need to take a bow. Without getting too deeper into the challenges that they have faced which I have seen from very close quarters, let us get into the digital adoption roadmap. I will also like to mention that I have take inputs from McKinsey report on “Raising your Digital Quotient” and mapped it to real occurrences prevalent in the Indian SME sector.  

The Covid challenges not withstanding, SME’s have taken to the digital path very seriously. While SME’s were always very particular about their Accounts and followed it very scrupulously, adopting to tools and technologies for marketing their products was not their forte. They were comfortable with the traditional sales channels in their respective markets.  It is not that way anymore! The first changes that I have seen in the manufacturing sector was adopting channels like IndiaMart and Facebook and eagerly exploring SEO to figure out how well they map into their product set-up. The initial results were visible across markets and in a particular market where I operate very closely sales inquiries improved significantly and closures relatively well. (I am not putting numbers here as it may not make sense to many people since I am trying to draw data from a particular case).  Now let me come to some of the strategies that SME’s can quickly adopt to become more effective.

Much of it depends on the ability to invest in relevant digital capabilities that are well aligned with strategy—and to do so at scale. The right capabilities help to keep pace with customers as digitization transforms the way they research and consider products and services, interact, and make purchases on the digital consumer decision journey. Customers that include rural customers are connected today in India! Period! The new generation starting from 20 something and the older generation about 55 to 60 years of age are not averse to using technology. This can include searching Google for a product or doing an application for enlistment in a portal or submitting customer documents for a loan etc. This has really changed the paradigm and companies need to adopt. As I mentioned the new marketing channels has to be Indiamart, Facebook and others as appropriate. Other technologies like the right accounting software and possible CRM tools can accelerate the digital adoption.

The starting point for success is developing a clearly defined, coherent digital strategy that’s fully integrated with the overall organization’s strategy. Without this deep alignment, any subsequent intervention is bound to fall short. Yet companies struggle to get their digital strategy right. Companies get their digital strategy right by answering three important questions. First, where will the most interesting digital opportunities and threats open up? Second, how quickly and on what scale is the digital disruption likely to occur? Third, what are the best responses to embrace these opportunities proactively and to reallocate resources away from the biggest threats?

Aggressively reallocating resources to areas that require digital intervention is the most effective way to improve competitiveness. It needs to be highlighted that not many companies have the leeway to keep investing for a long time till they see returns. Most want results to show quickly and the best way to do so is to adopt digital channels to improve sales. The results can be visible quickly especially if the timing of initiating the marketing campaign is right. These can lead to quick improvement in revenue and further investments in digital technologies.

Collectively, these represent a high-level road map for adoption by SME’s to keep pace in the digital age. Much else is required, of course. Without the right digital strategy proposal and the management mind-set needed to follow it, there’s a real danger of traveling in the wrong direction or not moving forward at all. Finally, tracking and communicating digital key performance indicators frequently is the key to success. Measuring those KPIs against digital priorities and make sure senior management reviews and manages their performance and take corrective actions as and when required.

If your company is looking at adopting a digital strategy, please connect with us at so that we can help you to understand and adopt!



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