The Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector has taken giant strides in leveraging Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve efficiency, boost growth and rise at par with their larger rivals, said industry leaders at businessline’s MSME Growth Conclave in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

The panel included Rajeev Singh, Vice President and Business Head Midmarket and Emerging Business — Indian Subcontinent, SAP India Pvt Ltd; Siddhesh Naik, Country Leader, Data, AI and Automation Software, Technology Sales, IBM India and South Asia; Samik Roy, Executive Director — Corporate, Medium, and Small Businesses, Microsoft; and Rajat Shikhar, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at DealShare. The panel was moderated by Venkatesha Babu, Chief of Bureau — Bengaluru, businessline.

‘Out of compulsion’

Adoption of Cloud among MSMEs kickstarted in the pandemic out of compulsion. “Organisations were previously very anti-Cloud as they were comfortable with on-premises software, but the pandemic forced them to work on the Cloud, which accelerated the digital transformation, and the sector realised the benefits of the Cloud,” said Roy.

Underscoring the progress the sector has made, Naik said, “The medium enterprises have embraced technology and have been ahead of the curve; some of them have even raced ahead of larger enterprises. However, we have only touched the tip of the iceberg and have a long way to go in getting MSMEs to embrace technology.”

Growing faster

Ambitions of the sector to grow faster have accelerated the adoption, said Singh. “Innovation is no more a choice and is a must, and it can happen faster by using technology and AI. Today SMEs want to understand what global best practices are, and want to compete with an enterprise; they aspire to be enterprise companies. Hence, they are exploring how software tools give them the ability to do so by running their operations better,” Singh added.

“The changing customer expectations and the need to reach out to them in an efficient way have fueled the need to automate, innovate and adapt to technologies. In order to keep up with the need, MSMEs are trying to be ahead of the curve and not just a laggard,” Shikhar said, explaining how adoption helps MSMEs.

Addressing the issues of the costs incurred, returns on investment and the long time required to implement the process of moving to the Cloud, Singh said organisations have started to look at digital transformation as an investment for future growth rather than a cost. He added that the time taken to implement has drastically reduced.

Tech innovations

The MSME sector is also exploring how it can leverage newer tech innovations like Generative AI. The panelists noted that it is not just a hype, and in fact, organisations are dabbling with technology and discovering how it can make operations efficient and faster, and reduce the need for aggressive hiring.

The one-day conclave, to commemorate International MSME Day, was held in association with Bank of Baroda Credit Cards, Canara Bank and Aashirvaad as associate partners, and was powered by the State Partner — the Government of West Bengal, Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Textiles. Mahindra was the electric mobility partner and newsX was the broadcast partner.