[TechSparks 2020] Indian SMBs should embrace digital adoption to stay relevant for future, say experts

At TechSparks 2020, Intuit QuickBooks’ Jyoti Ahuja and Lowe India’s Ananth Arora discussed how COVID-19 accelerated the use of technology across the SMB business stack.
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The COVID-19 pandemic heightened the awareness of digital adoption among more than 60 million SMBs in India.

But, what is digital transformation? A study by Dell EMC shows that only five percent of global businesses have adopted digital ways to function.

So, what does one has to do to transform their business in this era of technical and software innovation?

At YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks 2020, Jyoti Ahuja, Director of Engineering, Intuit QuickBooks, and Ananth Arora, Senior Director, Product Management, Merchandising Products, Lowe India's, discussed how entrepreneurs can converge business with digital adaption to become relevant for the future.

"The pandemic has changed the mindset, and that's when people start changing their perception of technology. SMBs have embraced change positively because they now understand technology can make them win customers and work closely with their ecosystem rapidly.

“Intuit saw increased usage because SMBs wanted to manage accounting and payroll with ease. A lot of our customers in the US had applied for COVID-19 loans, and our teams worked across the globe to make sure our products were ready to help these SMBs get loans announced by the government in the US. We had to do massive engineering to help businesses the world over," Jyoti said.

Intuit's QuickBooks is used by over 50 million businesses globally.

Bottom: Jyoti from Intuit and Anant from Lowe India's

Top: Vishal Krishna, Business Editor, Your Story

While SMBs look at the ease of using various technology tools, they must also do so with their end-customer in mind. Lowe's Inc is a multi-billion dollar retailer in North America with a strong innovation centre in India. The pandemic impacted the global supply chains, and Lowe's recommended SMBs to look at the transformation from the lens of the end-customer.

“At Lowe's — being a large retailer — we have a global supply chain that has been disrupted. What we had to do is bring agility to source the right product for the consumer at a convenient and cheaper price. Digital is a medium that allows you to scale. From a tech standpoint, transformation is going on for a while. And, COVID-19 has accelerated the outcomes of digital transformation. Digital is prioritised now. What took 18 months is now prioritised to three months," said Ananth.

The pandemic also called upon the need to motivate employees. One has to do things that they never did before, and leaders are the first ones that should transform themselves with agility.

"The teams across locations built pieces of the technology with the scrum of scrums model. We had to rapidly build things and collaborate effectively with teams across the world. As leaders, we had to motivate individuals continuously as we had to bring out applications that would help SMBs in these trying times," Jyothi explained.

For change to happen, the most important thing to remember is whether the organisation is ready to transform itself. A lot of startups are now trying to explain large organisations how to process at scale. This transformation constitutes people, process, technology, and data.

"We put together a war room. Each vertical head from different functions such as dotcom, supply chain, and store operations got together and tried to understand where they are failing. The war room brought all these heads together to anticipate demand and align everything from technology to logistics to make sure our customers were happy.

“We worked with local suppliers to increase the number of our buys or asking them to produce stuff that we cannot buy from elsewhere. We ensured that the consumer could buy from an omnichannel strategy, where they could order on an app and pick up in the kerbside of the store," said Ananth.

The duo advice SMBs to look at their priorities and what comes in the way of scaling their business. They need to have their website up and running all the time. They need digital transformation to ensure that they are in touch with their users or consumers at all times.

Consumers don't care whether an organisation is on the cloud or not; they only want the ease of use and value. Explaining with an example, the duo said, “Look at Google Search and the complex algorithms running behind it. Today, every person uses Google and Whatsapp. SMBs, therefore, have to use technology that makes it easy for them and their customers."


TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Edited by Suman Singh