11 April 2012
The need for small and medium enterprises (SME) growth initiatives is vital for the Middle East to ensure these markets have a sustainable economic growth model
The need for small and medium enterprises (SME) growth initiatives is vital for the Middle East to ensure these markets have a sustainable economic growth model.
At the same time, this directly points to the need for SMEs themselves to bring in more innovation into their processes to survive and be competitive.
But the situation on the ground is that many SMEs in the Middle East have not given enough importance to innovation. The general misconception among SMEs about innovation is all about introduction of new technologies or carrying out extensive R&D activities which require huge funds and, therefore, do not fit into their budgets.
But the reality is that they do not necessarily need to invest substantial funds in innovation. The name of the game is smart-growth. This doesn't mean smart-growth solutions should increase income inequalities or damage the environment.
The inefficiencies of the SME in the Middle East can be attributed to many factors, and one issue faced by them today is the fragmented market infrastructure, improper marketing and branding techniques, as well as inadequate and decentralised logistics and IT infrastructure.
In a connected world, customer expectations of organisations are heightened; they want to be heard and want results quickly. To deal with these pressures and make good choices, organisations must maintain close contact with customers.
These inefficiencies point towards the need for SME integration either at an industry or at a hub level. In comparison to large corporations, the smaller businesses enjoy more flexibility and innovation advantages.
For example, their small size, direct relationship with customers, quick adaptability to changing market conditions and strong social networks can be key drivers of innovation. But what is important is awareness.
A small firm can make the best of these advantages only when it believes in being an innovator. This new business model requires stream lined operations and clear lines of communications.
For successful SME integration at B2B and B2C levels, implementation of an advanced technology like the cloud computing can play a bigger role. Here, the customer has to pay only for the resources they use, such as a set of pooled computing resources delivered over the internet.
Cloud is cost-effective as customers need not spend on hardware and software and can host a whole lot of applications. Resource allocations can be adjusted according to the need of each individual customer.
SMEs in the Middle East require a base technology which needs to be unified with an efficient financial and marketing plan to become a successful business model.
Marketing is the toughest challenge in any business, and when it comes to SMEs, this is the area where they lag the most. Resource constraints are cited time and again as the underlying cause. However, there is another challenge in the myopic way marketing is treated by these businesses.
Although SMEs go for some form of marketing or the other, their conception is, in general, too limited and substantially different from that proposed by academics or adopted by large firms. Consequently, the marketing approach is loose and unstructured. This, in turn, leads to decision-making that is haphazard and chaotic.
What SMEs should look to use well is their perceived weaknesses. For example, a high level of flexibility could result from their informal organisational set-up. This would in turn make the decision process highly efficient.
Also, the reactive nature of their marketing approach assists them to respond quickly to current opportunities and circumstances. More often than not, these are key factors for our SMEs to energise their marketing in a simple, yet cost-effective, way.
The writer is the managing director at Sharjah-based Hexomatrixx, MPCL
The origional report is from Gulfnews at http://gulfnews.com/business/technology/a-360-degree-innovation-for-smes-1.1006827