Globally, as the businesses are evolving with changing consumer needs , digital technologies have brought in a paradigm shift in the way companies now operate. In the last decade or so, digital disruption has renewed competition, placed innovation at the center of all business strategy, and opened-up newer markets for businesses to tap into. Besides mobile, cloud and Big Data, a gamut of new-age digital tools such as M2M, Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics are set to be the next set of agility drivers for businesses. These will help in collaborative innovation, continual governance, consolidate data systems and upgrade billing and charging.
As the largest emerging economy, India has embraced the digital revolution admirably. While large-scale businesses and conglomerates across sectors have been the bellwether of digital transformation in the country, the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) which are an important contributor to the GDP are now aggressively pivoting towards digital adoption. The fact that SMEs in India show a 14 percent year-on-year rise in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expenditures underscores their seriousness toward digitization as they have realized that being digitally enabled helps them in increasing their efficieny , adding value to their customers requirements and also leads to overall exponential growth in business . 
SMEs are now going digital to bridge the gap with large corporations and operate with them on a level-playing field. Today, IT companies are helping SMEs to transform digitally, thereby aiding their path to achieving double digit profits. Some of the traditional homegrown businesses for example, in Kerala, some of the biggest jewellery business houses, most of which began as small businesses have effectively deployed ICT solutions that have helped them expand their presence, and tap into the vast customer-base across the country. A unique example of digital transformation enabling growth of a Small enterprise is that of the Shimla-based BPO firm 31 Parallel, which deployed end-to-end ICT requirement to expand operations. With products such as – Internet Leased Line (ILL) for unhindered and dedicated internet connectivity; Primary Rate Interface (PRI) lines for voice service; Toll Free Services; and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, they are seeing a tremendous growth and now are poised to compete with bigger players in their sector.
Not just business firms even sectors like Education is now transforming itself on the brink of digital technology Schools are adopting and adapting to tools like LBS (Location Based Tracking ) which provides a safety feature for their students. For instance, Delhi Public School (DPS) Karnal employed the LBS technology to locate school buses in real-time, and an intuitive portal to improve safety, accountability, and system eﬃciency of their mobile ﬂeet. Monitoring the school bus position while in transit, it comprises a feature called ‘Parent Alert’ that helps Parents to track the location of the bus, and informs them as to when it is reaching their respective pick-up or drop points. .
Barriers to ICT adoption
Though SMEs are open to the idea of going digital, their usage and access to quality and latest technology solutions is limited. As per a recent KPMG Report, a staggering 63 percent of them still function offline, using traditional methods and legacy tools. Several barriers force them to put their digital transformation plans on hold. Major hurdles include financial access leading to budgetary constraints and inadequate personnel. SMEs run on small budgets compared to large organisations, thereby making it difficult for them to invest money in digitisation. Moreover, this also makes it difficult for them to hire employees with good IT acumen or those who can help in system maintenance or failure. Adopting ICT solutions in such a scenario becomes a risky task.
These barriers, however, can be addressed with smart and perceptive decisions. SMEs must look at deploying highly scalable and reliable connectivity solutions. Generally, the degree and complexity of the ICT requirement for each of SME differs depending on the nature of their business. So, make sure to adopt only those end-to-end ICT solutions which will help achieve operational efficiency, reduce cost, provide seamless connectivity, improve productivity, and improve customer experience. This way the business will be able to compete with any large organisation and would have the capabilities to offer quality services to its customers.
Clearly then, access to ICT solutions will have a significant impact both at home and on the global turf. SMEs should buckle up and embrace the digital renaissance for a promising performance and a positive future that will ensure their viability in the coming times.
The author is, Mr. Vishal Bhat, The author is, Head – SME Operations- North, Tata Docomo Business Services