Also known as ‘Small to Medium Enterprise’, SMEs refer to smaller manufacturing or services enterprises whose turnovers do not go beyond 5 to 10 crore rupees. There are lakhs of SMEs spread out across India in all the major fields such as auto ancillaries, small-scale manufacturing, FMCG, Domestic/international trading, media and entertainment and travel and tourism.
With greater ease in communication with internet technology, and moving away from the long and laborious process of using the postal services or telephony for information exchange, things are finally looking up for SMEs. The easy availability of ultra-fast internet connectivity has enhanced businesses by cutting down on times wasted otherwise. Sending information through emails or internet-enabled chatting or messaging also ensures that there is no mistake in getting ideas across. Internet-enabled apps that allow audio-visual communication have made the world a smaller place too and meetings can be held virtually, without having to waste time and resources for discussing important matters.
Ensuring that every SME has access to high-speed internet would result in faster business growth, ease of business conduction and create employment for more people. According to a report, almost 90% of Indian SMEs have no internet access. This could be due to certain snags Indian SMEs face when it comes to accessing internet technology. These include:
Most SMEs are located away from the city as the cost of land is cheaper there. However, the downside is that it’s hard to access broadband providers in remote areas.
There is a general notion that it’s expensive to digitalize a business and set up an IT-enabled infrastructure. This becomes a deterrent to adopting internet technology. Businesses should realize that the benefits are greater in the long run.
Many SMEs have more or less no idea about the IT needs of their businesses and so, shy away from implementing it.
The absence of an IT team to map out the business requirements can be a drawback for SMEs and slow down business growth.
Wherever internet connectivity is available, most ISPs have different types of plans or packages for SMEs. Such businesses require plans that offer unlimited downloads, high-speed internet delivery as well as a dedicated, secure line. The broadband provider should also offer a reliable service, with no breaks in-between. As SMEs are growing businesses, they can’t afford to go for very expensive plans, so they need an economic plan that offers them at least 25 Mbps that is suitable for multiple users too.