UAE's SMEs must go more dig­i­tal

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

A good on­line pres­ence today means that small and medium sized en­ter­prises (SMEs) aren't lim­ited to serv­ing cus­tomers in the UAE, but have ac­cess to cus­tomers across the Mid­dle East and North Africa, and even across the world.

Speak­ing to me­dia, Haider Sal­loum, SMB chan­nel di­rec­tor at Mi­crosoft Gulf, said the way for­ward for many SMEs in the re­gion is by go­ing dig­i­tal.

"We en­cour­age SMEs today to have an on­line pres­ence and to do their busi­ness dig­i­tally. What tech­nol­ogy today has done is that it has cre­ated a dis­rup­tion in the chan­nel mod­els. The big­gest threat to a re­tailer today might not be his com­peti­tor that sits next door to him, but an on­line re­tailer that ships his prod­uct in a cer­tain num­ber of days at a more com­pet­i­tive price." "A smart busi­ness­man today will recog­nise the shift in busi­ness mod­els and ex­plore op­tions on how he can use that to his ad­van­tage. For in­stance, over 50 per cent of re­tail sales in the UK are done on­line. That is a mind­blow­ing statis­tic, es­pe­cially in light of the fact that this is a model that has been in ex­is­tence for hun­dreds of years, and yet was so eas­ily dis­rupted. We are in­creas­ingly notic­ing a change in buy­ing be­hav­iour, and how peo­ple are shop­ping for goods and ser­vices today," Sal­loum said.

Cus­tomers today are more in­formed about their pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions and are more de­mand­ing, he stressed. Com­pa­nies that are in touch with the de­mands of their cus­tomers are the ones that will come out on top, he pointed out.

Sal­loum also noted that over the past five to six months, SMEs have had to deal with a global eco­nomic chal­lenge that stems from the drop in oil prices, the rise of the dol­lar and the fall in com­mod­ity prices. SMEs today, he said, have to con­tem­plate on the best way to weather this storm.

"Their pri­or­ity today should be to ask them­selves what they need to do to use this eco­nomic chal­lenge as an en­abler for them to rein­vent their busi­ness. This is where Mi­crosoft sees the most op­por­tu­ni­ties to help SMEs in the re­gion. We are look­ing for­ward to con­nect­ing with SMEs to share ideas on how to lever­age tech­nol­ogy to reach their cus­tomers bet­ter and be more ef­fec­tive."

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