60pc Indian SMBs say business could not have survived pandemic using tech from decade ago: Salesforce report

CRM leader Salesforce’s fifth edition of ‘Small and Medium Business Trends’ report highlights that effective use of technology can be a differentiator for SMBs.

Fifteen months down the road following the first nationwide lockdown imposed in March last year, it is clear that the key for business survival and growth is a smooth digital transformation using new technologies available today.

In India, interestingly, 60 percent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) say their business could not have survived the pandemic using technology from a decade ago. This was the finding in a report released today by US-based global CRM leader Salesforce in its fifth edition of the ‘Small and Medium Business Trends’ report.

Additionally, 82 percent of Indian SMBs interviewed believe “shifts they’ve made to their business operations over the last year will benefit them in the long-term”.

Insights from responses of more than 2,500 SMB owners and leaders around the world revealed that in addition to their accelerated tech investments, “growing SMBs are more likely than stagnant/declining ones to leverage technologies like customer service software, email marketing software, and ecommerce software”.

According to the report, project or task collaboration tools saw the largest uptick in adoption over the past six months. With the increase in usage over recent years, around three in five growing SMBs now use each of these tools.

Most growing SMBs (71 percent) say their business survived the pandemic because of digitisation. And during a time of change, growing SMBs are accelerating technology investments.

Their top motivators are to increase productivity (62 percent), improve business agility (60 percent), and increase data security (54 percent).

The report adds that safety and convenience for customers and employees is another factor driving this shift.

In India, for example, the top three reasons for SMBs moving operations online (among those who have increased online operations over the last year) are one, to serve customers safely; two, enable safer work arrangements for employees; and three, increase productivity.

The report states that the top three challenges for Indian SMBs in meeting customer expectations are: one, bringing innovative offerings to market; two, keeping up with demand; and three, maintaining safety or sanitation measures.

Arun Parameswaran, SVP and MD - Sales & Distribution, Salesforce India.

Releasing the report, Arun Kumar Parameswaran, SVP and Managing Director, Sales & Distribution, Salesforce India, said

“The grit and innovation of SMBs during a time of great change has been a triumph. This has also been a testament to the perseverance and creativity of SMBs and the communities in which they operate. It is truly inspiring to see how Indian SMBs are leveraging technology to transform their operations and push forward after a year of change.”

Here are some of the other insights from the report:

  • Government and community support: As SMBs struggled to maintain revenue streams through the pandemic shutdowns, governments and local communities alike stepped up to help. Sixty-two percent of SMBs in India say financial support from their community has been vital to their business’ survival over the past year.
  • Customer and employee engagement: SMBs are focusing on meeting customer expectations and deepening trust by providing employees with transparent communications and flexibility. Since the pandemic began, 59 percent of SMBs in India have expanded ways customers can reach them and 48 percent have prioritised deepening relationships over one-time transactions.
  • Contactless service, a priority: In India, 99 percent of SMBs plan to offer contactless services permanently leading with secure digital payments (78 percent), mobile order (68 percent), and digital customer service (62 percent).
  • Long haul: Many SMBs feel that they have to strategise for the long term in a post-pandemic world. SMBs in India with some of their operations online increased their online presence even more in the last year, and 82 percent of them feel the operational shifts made over the last year will benefit their business long-term. Sixty-one percent of growing SMBs in India have accelerated investments in marketing over the past year.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta


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