MANILA, 30 OCTOBER 2009 - Ironic as it may seem, but small-and medium-size businesses (SMBs) don't necessarily become high-tech just because they have all the latest technologies and solutions in place.
As some well-known IT companies put it, a "real" high-tech SMB is one that realizes the positive impacts of technology to the business.
For instance Emerson Network Power, Microsoft and Oracle say a technology-enabled SMB uses the power of technology or systems to run and grow their businesses more effectively, efficiently and productively; while IBM defines high-tech SMB as someone that uses technology to become more intelligent, instrumented and more interconnected.
"You can only become truly IT-enabled when you see the benefits of technology in optimizing the processes within the company and effectively complimenting the work of the people," says Nicky Eala, server business group lead of Microsoft Philippines.
Eala adds for an SMB to become high-tech, it must make the right investments in terms of software, solutions and infrastructure, and consequently maximize those technologies to enable the workforce in achieving good results for the company.
And although mid-size companies bear the same "SMB" tag, the implementation of technologies vary from the company's scale, type of commerce, and more importantly business goals.
In this special report by Computerworld Philippines on the High-Tech SMB, executives from Emerson, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle share their strategies on how they enable mid-size firms to achieve a legitimate high-tech status.
According to Katrina Tirante, marketing manager of Emerson Southeast Asia, in order to identify the correct IT infrastructure for an SMB, one should understand the company's business objectives as well as the challenges that would go along the way.
Suraj Pai, senior sales director of Oracle Singapore, says that some of the usual challenges that an SMB face in being automated or high-tech are IT complexity and cost.
"Highly customized systems for example are expensive and difficult to maintain," Pai says. "With limited resources, midsize organizations cannot afford IT solutions or applications that are complex and those that require extensive work to customize, deploy and operate."
Generally, midsize companies have the same business requirements to that of large enterprises, Pai says. Yet the big difference is that midsize businesses have limited resources and they have to maximize their IT budgets while also aiming to achieve the IT value quickly. "They really need solutions that are easy on the pocket and easy to implement."
Eala observes some SMBs would rather put their investments elsewhere but once they become aware of what technology can bring to the business, they will realize that the advantages far outweigh the cost of investment.
Chestnut Andaya, IBM Philippines' country manager for general business, notes that "data overload" is one of the biggest challenges SMBs are confronted with today. She says it is important for businesses to have the information they need when they need it, as it results to better decision making and improved financial performance.
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