SMEs Have a Chance to Grow Through Technology. Are They Ready?By Ricardo López Tello | Thu, 07/01/2021 - 09:07
Since 2020, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the demand and implementation of emerging technologies. We are part of one of the most important moments in the history of the digitalization of the world, and in this context, it seems essential to me to analyze the role these technologies play in the business sector of a country, especially, if as in Mexico, more than 99 percent of registered companies are considered SMEs.
Although there are endless ways in which a business can start this journey, there are certain technologies that can provide an unparalleled competitive advantage for your business, and that will allow them to generate value while ensuring better management, better control of their business, assets, and closer contact with customers. Let’s take, as an example, artificial intelligence.
This technology started to be implemented on a larger scale and it comes as no surprise: companies are turning to smart computing to help accelerate growth and drive their business transformation. As the International Monetary Fund clearly expresses, the next phase of automation, relying on AI and AI-powered machines, will be even more disruptive, especially if it is accompanied by other technologies ready to improve processes. Data analyzed with artificial intelligence, correct large volumes of inventory distortion and, at the same time, allow supply chains and product development to be incredibly efficient. Can you imagine an SME having the same IT power to operate its business as a transnational company? In simple terms, that's what I mean by this. But with such incredible benefits, what stops this business sector?
In terms of digital transformation, Mexican SMEs have been characterized by low investment in new technologies to modernize their operations due to several factors, which has made them less competitive and agile to face the challenges of a constantly changing world. Although this transformation is a challenge of the utmost importance; the situation has acquired enormous urgency due to the complications and impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout my career, I have been in conversations with businessmen who are still discussing whether it is worth investing in the modernization of their operations, wondering if the investment puts them at risk of eating their profits in the short term, even though in the future it will offer them, and give them, great returns. I am aware that it is a complex conversation in which many elements have to be weighed, ranging from the intrinsic nature of a business to the capital available to invest. But there is a very simple idea that I am convinced of, and it is this: If you don't invest in technology, your business will most likely disappear in the next five years.
It is a harsh reality, but a reality nonetheless. Once accepted, it presents a wide range of options that will allow us to act accordingly to prevent that outcome. It is not about turning on the alarms; the truth is that, at least on a technical level, this situation does not have to be the destiny of your business, especially when you can start taking advantage of these trends with a good computer where you can manage an adequate inventory and provide follow-up to your customers, among many other tasks.
More than just making the investment and installing wires and hardware, the concept of digital transformation is also about taking advantage of current trends to be more efficient and contribute to the growth of companies. Today, SMEs need to turn to see what is happening in the world, and to put aside the belief that technology is only necessary for bigger companies. Moreover, technology companies need to make a joint effort to share the benefits of adopting the latest innovations, such as artificial intelligence, and continue working more and more to make these same solutions accessible and inclusive for every single company.
At this point, I would like to share what Inma Martínez, digital pioneer, AI researcher and member of the Advisory Council of the Government of Spain, thinks: “Data has always been a cornerstone of civilization. Artificial intelligence makes possible a world in which, suddenly, every object has the possibility of obtaining information, information that can be extracted and used in real-time.”
I am convinced that AI is, perhaps, one of the most fascinating emerging technologies that humanity has developed. Its implementation is much easier and more accessible today, than we could imagine; as I mentioned earlier, among the many benefits that it can provide to your company is the ability to filter activities, especially those that are repetitive, allowing human talent to focus on strategic tasks that add agility, enabling the future success of your operations.
Over the years at Intel, I have come to realize that one of the main barriers for small and medium-sized businesses to migrate their old computers to new models is the inherent concern that applications from old devices might not run on a newer operating system, in addition to the lack of budget. However, the benefits of adopting a modern device strategy outweigh the concerns. The positive impact of renewing technology on SMEs can be high; in a market that celebrates and rewards personalization, we find a wide variety of portfolios and solutions that allow us to make use of this technology more simply. An example of this is the Device as a Service (DaaS) modality, which allows organizations to have access to state-of-the-art computer equipment, with a variety of services and software according to the specific needs of the company, for a monthly subscription.
We must bear in mind that the adoption of technological advances means great opportunities for all types of businesses; even more, it allows you to free yourself from the complex burden of handling large volumes of information on your own so that you unleash all your creative potential and put it to use to create innovative strategies that allow your business to become one of the great players.
At Intel, we intend to continue pushing known technological limits to deliver innovative products that enrich the lives of everyone on the planet. We are convinced that innovations from companies like Intel provide a foundation for digital transformation that enables cloud, data management, analytics, artificial intelligence, and much more.