Three IT trends to help small business grow this year.
By Perry Zalevsky, Industry Principal, Industry Value Engineering
Recent innovations in technology have given small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs) the opportunity to adopt solutions that were previously only considered suitable for large enterprises. This year, three major IT trends will continue to spur the adoption of inexpensive IT trends and solutions among SMEs, empowering reinvention in business models and helping these businesses to achieve sustainable growth.
Use of analytics to understand new customer expectations
Driven by the ability to access information at anytime and anywhere, today’s “always-on” consumers now demand more personalized product offerings and impeccable customer service experiences. As customers browse for products and services on their mobile phones and reveal interests through comments on social networks, SMEs are beginning to express interest in affordable analytics solutions that can help them gain valuable insights into the wants and needs of their target audience. However, as they implement these technologies into business operations, companies have been struggling to ensure that the information used is reliable.
According to a recent SAP Global SME study conducted by Oxford Economics among 2,300 SMEs in 23 countries, more than half of SMEs today say they have a problem with data accuracy and quality, and more than one-third are having difficulty with data collection. To overcome this challenge, SMEs will look to identify specific needs to align with the right analytics solutions that will help them achieve desired results.
Optimization of supply chain planning and execution
Once customer expectations have been identified, SMEs are tasked with transforming supply chain processes by expanding product and service offerings while managing demands for fast deliveries. This shift has resulted in an increase in the use of optimization and simulation tools that allow supply chain analysis and decision making in real-time. Together with the implementation of solutions such as in-memory analytics, SMEs are offered the chance to transform supply chain visibility to help simplify inventory management and make decision making proactive, not reactive. These simulation capabilities also make innovation possible by quickly modeling different business scenarios that enable companies to bring unique planning strategies into play, improving the effectiveness of logistics and order fulfillment.
Company-wide integration of IT
Too often, small businesses invest in ad hoc purchases that result in a fragmented IT landscape with multiple solutions, some on premise and some cloud-based, that do not talk to each other. As a result, SMEs are now seeking company-wide integration of their IT solutions, applying new communication tools built to tackle disparate software.
This is especially evident amongst SMEs experiencing growth, as they need to streamline new sets of data across multiple locations in order to run their business efficiently. For example, a crop growing business needs to take into account land availability, locations of machinery, supplies needed, number and locations of employees, and financing needs. If any of this information is not up-to-date or integrated across appropriate business solutions, the company will experience operational and financial problems. To prevent this outcome, small businesses faced with a similar challenge are tying GPS tracking, mobile solutions for managing equipment, cloud-based systems for communicating with suppliers and connected devices for employees, into a single-coordinated system.
It is due to these trends that SMEs are now realizing that they are no longer at a disadvantage when it comes to the ability to invest in innovative technologies in order to transition to competitive business models. And as current solutions mature and newer ones are introduced, small companies will continue to grow and succeed at a global scale by improving customer insights, optimizing supply chain processes and achieving company-wide integration of IT.
About the Author
Perry Zalevsky is the Industry Principal for Mill Products for SAP America, including industries such as Metals, Paper, Building Materials and Furniture. Perry previously worked at Alcoa and PPG Industries and at several supply chain software companies and he currently works with many small and mid-sized Mill companies. You can learn more about Perry via his Linkedin profile.Also visit www.sap.com for more info on SAP America.