Excerpts from the fourth webinar of the Gulf Capital SME Insights Live Series discussing how SMEs will perceive technologies post the pandemic with industry thought leaders from Gulf Capital, StartAd, and SAP.
Big corporate entities today are investing heavily in their digital transformation. But a technology strategy is not something that should be limited only to large businesses.
For many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the focus over the past six months has been survival. But as businesses plot their recovery from Covid-19, it is time to think about a digital strategy. The post-COVID outlook remains uncertain and small companies must find different ways of doing things that will help them not just survive, but thrive.
The technology adopted during the COVID crisis forced a change in attitudes towards digital transformation. With the increased need to reduce costs and to be efficient, companies can benefit from a robust technology strategy to provide solutions for more efficient, informed, and integrated operations.
“Every small company could leverage technologies to help them manage their business end-to-end,” says Pedro Pereira, director of innovation adoption and impact at enterprise software company SAP EMEA South.
Speaking in the fourth SME Gulf Capital SME Insights Live webinar, Pereira explains that in the aftermath of the COVID crisis, the needs and expectations of customers have changed, but many organisations are either not aware of this, or do not have the agility to adapt to new requirements.
“That is where technology is more important than ever,” says Pereira, “especially technology that operates as a business network, it is not enclosed software, it’s an open network that helps you to connect with customers, with your suppliers, and to make sure that your processes are all integrated.”
With rapid shifts in consumer behaviour, increasing environmental and health concerns, and ever-changing regulations, SMEs need to be able to utilise technology effectively to stay ahead of the game.
Jeremy Shorter, startup programme lead at Abu Dhabi-based accelerator StartAD says that it is essential for SMEs to maintain an entrepreneurial mindset.
“If you are running a business, you should be constantly in search of new knowledge and be aware of your landscape,” says Shorter. “SMEs should look at upskilling themselves and thinking about how they can think and act like startups…in order to add value to what they are doing.”
Shorter says that it is vital for SMEs to regularly re-evaluate their corporate strategy. “Especially at a time like this,” he says. “We should understand how we can alter our current business model using technology that is available to better serve our customers.”
One of the biggest challenges facing SMEs and entrepreneurs in the region is recruiting qualified technical staff.
To overcome this, Gulf Capital managing director Alvaro Abella advises firms to take a more innovative approach. For example, a company could use the services of an overseas tech firm to oversee its digital transformation.
Working from home, which became normalised during the COVID lockdown period, has demonstrated that geography does not need to dictate the talent that is employed or the services that a company uses.
“The global nature of talent has come to the fore,” says Abella. “And being able to identify and create a relationship with talent in other parts of the world is becoming very normal.”
This webinar was held on Tuesday 28 August 2020, at 1 pm UAE Time.