The world of SMEs & the vast differences

SMEs are businesses like your local barber or hairdressers. Corner shops, bicycle stores, hardware stores, and florists. SMEs can be of different sizes and types.

Digitally, they are an underserved demographic.

Some SMEs are digital natives. They're very agile, and they like to get to market quickly. They won't have the patience for long IT cycles.

Conversely, many SMEs aren’t very digitally evolved. Depending on their profile, their IT estate may not be mature.

And some are altogether absent from the digital playing field.

SME challenges

Digitally absent SMEs and those with less mature IT systems have been hit hard by the current social and physical constraints.

Many SMEs have reported losses or reductions in revenue, largely due to the loss of physical customers and buyer flow. An extract from an article on businessinnovationmag.co.uk highlights these challenges.

“A recent survey has found that Covid-19 has cost the average UK-based SME over £11,000, with the total cost exceeding £69 billion. The survey, run by Simply Business, also found that 67% have had to temporarily close, and over 230,000 SMEs have been forced to permanently stop trading.

To overcome the challenges ahead, and continue to succeed in the new working world, SMEs need to adapt their business strategy to both drive efficiencies and create new sources of revenue – and that means digital capabilities have never been more critical.”

Right now, SMEs acutely need to be digitally enabled or empowered to identify sales and service opportunities.

Who can solve these challenges for SMEs?

The SME sector represents a market opportunity for providers of digital enablement and marketplace services.

Banks and financial institutions have always offered services that enable financial empowerment. Add “digital enablement” to these services and you have a new, useful offering to different communities that have a need to “go digital” but do not have the tools or know-how.

Given that many SMEs may not have very evolved IT systems, they would value digital tools and services from their banks or telcos, or other trusted businesses.

Telcos and financial institutions can empower SMEs by bundling their core services and functionality in an “as-a-service” model, along with digital enablement tools. Any institution that can offer SMEs and other underserved communities, digital enablement services, will become a one-stop-shop for their needs.

What SMEs appreciate

SMEs want here and now solutions to ease the situation. They’ll value any tech proposal that helps their business. Especially if the solution reduces time to market.

SMEs appreciate offerings that provide accelerator kits and out-of-the-box software. A cloud-based offering suits SMEs very well. With its help, they don't have to concern themselves with much IT infrastructure.

SMEs still need tools to expose and manage their inventory, product catalogues, and customer information. Then there are tools for order capture and billing management. Tools that allow them to interact with other complementary offerings, enabling them to sell a complete package of services to customers.

Of course, SMEs will appreciate the possibility of forging a new base of customers that they can't otherwise acquire.

For example, a hairdresser may offer bookings for haircut appointments via your marketplace, thereby benefiting from your reach and customer base.

If you further digitally enable them by making an instance of your marketplace available to the same hairdresser to brand as their own, they can now bundle their offerings with other third-party hair care products and provide a packaged offering with their branding on it, thereby expanding their offering portfolio to their customers.

This creates a network effect and benefits both parties:

  1. The SME benefits through being able to bundle products with other providers and charge for transactions on their instance of the marketplace (you provide this marketplace on your cloud)
  2. You benefit by:
    • Securing trust and a loyal, growing customer base
    • Getting more visibility and consumption for your products and services by being a provider on all the SME marketplaces that you provision on your cloud.

SMEs will appreciate these kinds of offerings.

How banks, telcos, and other providers can help

Large telcos and banks have their core systems. These core systems need to be more integration-friendly. Legacy enablement and modernization might be a first step to expose their core functionality in an as-a-service model using APIs.

SMEs may have some rudimentary IT systems and dependence on third-party suppliers that they want to keep. This is precisely where integration is needed.

Digital enablers must provide integration tools to onboard and expose data through API gateways and microservices. The ability to pull data off SME systems into the cloud and fulfill customer journeys and use-cases is a must-have.

This offers attractive capabilities that lead to quickly onboarding SMEs and third-party product and service providers as tenants within an ecosystem.

Several challenger banks already offer bespoke digital marketplace services. For example, challenger bank TIDE's marketplace allows digital offerings with TPP services for synchronizing sales, pricing, and inventory.

SMEs on the TIDE platform can showcase their products and services using Shopify as their storefront, in partnership with Unleashed as their inventory management system. SMEs can also integrate their offerings with other eCommerce, EPOS, and accounting systems if required.

Torry Harris’s SME digital empowerment kit

Torry Harris offers a suite of “digital enablement” products and frameworks in a white-label model that can be used as plug-and-play. Digital enablement service providers can rebrand these offerings.

Torry Harris’ DigitMarketTM features a Marketplace and an API manager, among other accelerators and automation tools. The Marketplace supports multi-tenancy which allows easy integration for SMEs and third-party providers.

This empowerment kit lets SMEs participate in popular digital ecosystems and even allows them to create their own.

DigitMarketTM is just one of a suite of products that make up the SME digital empowerment kit.

We can help integrate your core capabilities and offer them as-a-service to third-parties, SMEs, and partners. Become a “digital enabler” today with our “empowerment kit”.

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