Digitalization supports economic recovery – The Manila Times

THE pandemic has helped businesses realize the importance of going digital. However, not all companies have yet to invest in digital technologies. In fact, there are still some that are not receptive to the idea.
Abhimanyu Kashikar, chief operating officer, co-founder and head of Anchanto, shared his insights with The Manila Times on how digitalization could aid the country's economic recovery and even assist businesses to soften the impact of the inflation hike. In the following conversation, Anchanto COO Kashikar touches on the benefits of digitalization in revenue and productivity, in improving service delivery, and its positive impacts on sales and marketing.
The Manila Times (TMT): What is the scope of digitalization you are proposing and how would it compel small businesses to go digital as SMEs comprise 80 percent of all industries in the Philippines, for instance?
Abhimanyu Kashikar (AbK): For Philippines businesses to survive the changing economic scenario, it is imperative that they establish themselves online. The scope of digitalization could be split into two parts: one, digitalization of operations, which requires businesses to equip themselves with the right technology, no matter the field in which they operate, and two, digitalization of distribution/sales since in 2022, all commerce is e-commerce and companies must adopt digital strategies to serve existing customers and acquire new ones.
For small businesses, the online space offers the benefit of growth. By being online, SMEs could serve a larger customer base, bring more awareness about their offerings to the market, and leverage various marketplaces and webstores to generate more sales. And by keeping customers at the center of it all, SMEs could increase revenue, but they would need the right technology partner to enable them to scale in the digital space.
TMT: What type of digitalization strategies should small businesses pursue? Will those strategies allow small businesses to compete reasonably with larger scale enterprises?
AbK: In this ever-evolving ecosystem, it won't simply be present online. Some digitalization strategies that small businesses need to pursue are firstly to go multichannel and then to go omnichannel. To go multichannel, they need to start selling on various online platforms. This would help them become more visible to new customers and increase their order volume. Once they have established their presence online, they should focus on going omnichannel — which means offering a seamless shopping experience to customers across any and all sales channels.
TMT: What are SaaS solutions and why choosing to invest in SaaS solutions is less costly and more cost efficient than “to stick to old habits”?
AbK: SaaS stands for “software as a service,” which means it is a cloud-based offering that businesses could subscribe to and use to manage their operations efficiently. To simplify, SaaS solutions are digitally accessed, cloud-based platforms or applications that are available through subscription.
The best part about a SaaS solution is that it requires no additional investment in hard assets for the business that is subscribing to it. The underlying infrastructure, middleware, app software, and app data are located in the service provider's data center. From ensuring appropriate service agreements to offering the security of using the platform, all of these concerns are transferred to the SaaS provider.
On the contrary, if businesses decide to develop their own systems, they would require huge IT investments, ample resources and time, and would also need recurring effort to keep their technology updated. That is why sticking to “old habits” or using traditional solutions is not the right approach if the business is looking for growth. Investing in a cloud-based SaaS platform with ready integrations and technology solutions is the way to go.
TMT: How could SaaS solutions assist or even boost the country's economic recovery and combat inflation? Please discuss a bit about SaaS and inflation since the latter, I understand, is a big pressing issue in most economies around the world?
AbK: The Philippines e-commerce ecosystem is fragmented in nature. But, in the last few years, there has been a shift in the way businesses view digital transformation. With many businesses now present online, they are more visible to the end customer. Hence, having a SaaS solution would assist their growth and ensure they scale up. This would further help improve the economic recovery of the country.
In light of the possible threat global inflation poses to economies, businesses that are equipped with the right technology to serve their customers would be able to adapt to changing circumstances in a better manner as compared to those that are yet to find a technology partner. People have grown habituated to the ease and convenience of shopping online. So, despite a rise in price, the convenience of e-commerce would definitely remain.

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