IIM Indore’s Industry Interface Office (IIO) in collaboration with ICICI organized a brainstorming session on ‘SMEs & Evolving Technologies: Contemporary Challenges & Risks.’ A panel discussion was conducted as part of knowledge series Entrepreneur’s University by ICICI for SMES & Entrepreneurs. More than 50 industry delegates from manufacturing and service concerns of Pithampur and Indore region participated in the event.
The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Siddhartha Rastogi, Faculty, IIM Indore. The panellists included Mr. Murali Ramakrishnan, Head SME Group, ICICI Bank; Mr. Jaideep Ghosh, Partner, KPMG in India; Mr. Siddhartha Sethi, CEO and Cofounder of Infobeans and Professor D.L. Sunder, Faculty – Strategic Management, IIM Indore.
Mr. Murali Ramakrishnan spoke about tech disruptions along with financial challenges impacting SMEs and entrepreneurs. ‘Demography of consumers is changing. Further, several lending entities are coming up along with advent of P2P lending as well as digital lending. Currently we are witnessing an information overload’, he said. He also noted that as a lender, to fund technological investments we need to play the role of a consultant as to how tech makes sense for SMEs. It is critical to have technology but when to acquire the asset and how to use it are important decisions and questions before SMEs embark it. Entrepreneurs may want to account for uncertainties in tech trends through scenario planning, he concluded.
Discussing the kind of challenges observed for SMEs, Mr. Jaideep Ghosh, said that tech can be a great leveller as it can open up access to same services for big and small businesses alike. ‘Currently SMEs are using it many miniature versions of ERP, CRM etc. The earlier concept of SMAC: social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is being replaced by BRAID: Blockchain, robotics, automation, internet of things and digital fabrication’, he said. As long as we are quick to adapt tech we can be ready to take on regulatory changes that occur with respect to new technologies, he added.
Mr. Siddhartha Sethi shared his view as an entrepreneur about the evolving tech frontiers and its impact on business. ‘We are in the midst of huge tech revolution. Technology can help address the question as to how our SMEs and startups can reach an even bigger scale, and reduce cost. The RoI aspect of technology is also a crucial aspect. As a rule of thumb, the technology should repay itself back in the form of benefits through the next 3-5 years’, he said.
Professor D.L. Sunder then gave suggestions to overcome a mind-set challenges along with fin and tech challenges as an Entrepreneur. He said that technology can be an enabler for two purposes: first for solving a specific problem and second making operations more cost-effective which is directly related to affordability of technology too. ‘While work in tech space may be quick it does take a long time from research to commercial application, tech transition in itself may be gradual process’, he said.
The panel discussion ended on a high note, providing an opportunity to the participants to interact with the panellists and learn from their experience.