YourStory SMB Week: BFSI experts explain why SMBs must adopt cloud technology amidst coronavirus lockdown
The nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic is a make-or-break period for Indian Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Enterprises that adapt to these changing times will grow; others will get left behind, or worse, be forced to shut shop.
SMBs across the country are wondering how to ensure business continuity with manufacturing units shut, exports blocked, and supply of goods to the market restricted. Further, their regular channels of credit that keep their operations afloat, have dried up as creditors are refusing to lend until there is better news.
To help enterprises power through these difficult circumstances, YourStory started “SMB week - Converse, Combat, Conquer”, a special, first-of-its kind WhatsApp chat series, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The chat series, which started on April 13, 2020, will go on till April 18, 2020.
In this series, leaders from various sectors such as the banking and financial services industry (BFSI), e-commerce, retail, and more, are expected to provide guidance on reworking sales forecasts, managing revenue, cash flow slumps and supply chain disruptions, among other topics, to help SMBs weather the storm.
In the first session of the WhatsApp chat series, held on 13 April, industry leaders from the BFSI sector came together to discuss how SMBs can start adopting cloud services during these uncertain times to ensure business continuity.
There was consensus that SMBs need to leverage conference calls, online meetings, video conferencing, and webinars to interact with employees on a daily basis. The experts also agreed SMBs should use the available time and technology to frequently interact with clients, vendors, investors and other stakeholders to give them confidence that their business will survive.
Ketan Gaikwad, CEO and MD, Receivables Exchange of India (RXIL) said, “Just imagine the situation if such a pandemic hit the world 10 years ago. Back then, before the proliferation of cloud technology, it was a world heavily dependent on physical servers, networks and their individual up-times and availability. The sheer scale of human resources needed to run a datacentre would have resulted in partial to total platform outages for SMBs during such a pandemic”.
The advantages of cloud
Due to its inherent cost, manageability and scale advantages, cloud technology is being looked at as an innovative way SMBs can ensure business continuity during uncertain times. Post the pandemic, cloud-based technology, characterised by the ability to host platforms or services from remote locations easily accessible via the Internet, could become the new normal for SMBs.
Ketan added adopting cloud technology “must truly be the first choice, and there must be a compelling reason for a business not to do so.”
With SMBs looking to rationalise costs and conserve cash flow, cloud technology and solutions are emerging as efficient ways to keep businesses running and mitigate the extent of the financial damage caused by the pandemic.
Sumit Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Vyapar, said during the WhatsApp chat, “I never thought that a customer care team can work from home. It is because of the cloud telephony that we are able to service each customer in spite of the lockdown. In most tech companies, engineering teams are still working and productive. Coordination and execution wouldn't be possible without the adoption of products like Zoom, Slack etc.”
Further, business support functions are increasingly becoming digitised and/or automated.
“SMBs should increase their capacities for cloud service and focus more on digital transactions and storage of documents with the right process flow chart. Further, SMBs will resort to AI (Artificial Intelligence) to understand the changing behaviour of their clients based on their demographics, geographic and other preferences” said Amit Jain, Co-founder and CEO, Ashika Wealth Advisors.
Dealing with data
With BFSI services increasingly going online, there is a need for players in this space to simplify storage, make data access easier, and ensure data security. This is where cloud technology comes in.
Rakesh Goyal, Director, Probus Insurance, believes the adoption of cloud technology is one of the most important steps that an SMB in the BFSI space can take.
“Most processes that were offline are now carried out online. For instance, issuing policies online has become simpler with the adoption of tech solutions, including providing apps to our partners. Adopting AI/ML to provide better customer support and policy buying solutions is something we do at Probus,” he said.
Shristi Banka, Founder and CEO, Banka and Banka CFO Services, explained why cloud solutions ensure security, a key consideration when dealing with data.
“Cloud technology ensures data safety in the form of authorised access and helps in quick transmission remotely. Data is being uploaded onto the cloud from multiple sources reliably. At Banka CFO, we have adopted cybersecurity solutions in the wake of increasing online fraud. Cyberattacks on companies and individuals are on the rise and growing not only in number but also in ferocity. Cybersecurity can no longer be left exclusively to IT specialists,” she said.
She recommended SMB business owners make use of advanced customisable cloud solutions with personalised dashboards that integrate various functions of business in a clear way. “All functions such as accounting, sales, marketing, etc., may be integrated and monitored comprehensively,” she added.
Now, there is a need for creating awareness about cloud technology among all SMBs and boosting its accessibility. The SMBs will need to be helped along the way and eased into moving to the cloud.
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