Cloud computing is a truly disruptive development that is completely and irreversibly changing the IT landscape for SMEs. They can now gain access to a range of apps that are best-in-class and at the same time affordable. This phenomenon has shown impressive movement in the business sensitive processes such as ERPs, CRMs and SMEs have found them extremely worthy. Kamal Mansharamani Co-founder of workXmate.com shared an overview about the acceptance and trends in the ERP and CRM market within SMEs.
In an exclusive interaction with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet, Mansharamani excerpts:
How the acceptance of ERP based solutions is catching up among SMEs?
We are seeing a lot of traction in the market. There is a huge pent up demand for CRM & ERP products in the SME (Small & Medium Enterprises) segment. Traditional ERP products have been prohibitively expensive. They come with huge upfront costs in terms of license and hardware costs. Implementation period are long and the implementation cost is typically as much as the license cost. These products are simply out of reach for the SMEs. However, new ERP solutions with zero infrastructure cost and pay as you go models are making ERPs affordable to the SMEs. This has created a lot of interest and excitement in the SME segment and they have started embracing the CRM & ERP solutions.
What are the trends you observe in the finance automation scenario?
While very small companies with just 2-5 employees are exploring Quickbooks, the eco-system for Tally as an Accounting System is still strong for SMEs in India. However there is a need to have a new generation front end system for Tally that is truly multi-user and has advanced features like workflow, availability on cloud etc.. There is also a need to have Tally integrated with rest of the Apps that an SME needs viz. CRM for Invoices, Expense Management, Payroll etc. Hence we decided to integrate Tally with our CRM & ERP solution.
SMEs and mostly MSMEs are keen towards Tally based solutions, in such case, how challenging it becomes for ERP player like yours?
SMEs and MSMEs have been traditionally using Tally and spreadsheets. This is primarily because there was no solution available in the market that they could afford. The challenge for us is to make them realize the benefits that the CRM and ERP products provide to their business.
The new generation CRM and ERP products like workXmate provide huge benefits to SMEs. They help accelerate growth by giving them complete insight into their business. These products can help them manage the complete marketing cycle from campaign management to lead capture. They can also track the complete sales cycle consisting of Opportunity creation, Quotation, Order, Invoicing and Payment tracking. They can track all the activities of their sales people even when they are working from remote locations. This ensures that no leads are lost in the system and each lead is tracked to closure. This results in higher customer acquisition leading to accelerated growth.
With workXmate ERP, SMEs can also get access to the best-in-class project management tools. These tools can help them manage the projects with significantly lower project management overheads. They can also track the project health and the project profitability during the course of project execution. This gives them the capability to execute projects on-time and under budget.
One of the major pain areas of SMEs is the ability to attract and retain talent. Also once talent leaves the organization; all the knowledge assets also go with the talent. New cloud based solutions enable the SMEs to build knowledge repository at very affordable price. This enables the SMEs to convert the individual knowledge into organizational knowledge. This also helps them compete aggressively with industry leaders as they can now deploy the entire organizational knowledge in competitive situations.
The new generation cloud solutions are not just tools that automate the processes. They incorporate the industry best practices as part of the recommended processes. This gives SMEs a huge advantage as they gain access to processes that are on par with the best in the world. They also get the ability to benchmark their key metrics with the industry leaders. It gives them pointers to the areas of improvement as well as the extent of the gaps.
What are the key opportunities you foresee for your business growth?
We foresee that the SMEs will adopt the Internet and Cloud based solutions in a big way. We also foresee that the SMEs will increasingly turn to global market and compete aggressively with the global players. In such a scenario, they will require the tools, technology and best practices to compete with the best in the world.
Early adopters of Technology are using multiple point solutions to run their businesses. workXmate is equivalent to having a combination of over 18 point solutions. Moreover it provides seamless integration of all business functions like CRM, Inventory, HCM, Project Management, knowledge management & Intranet with a single login.
Cost factor also acts as a challenge among SMEs when it comes to automation solutions. How do you look at this aspect?
We understand that cost factor is very important for SMEs. Therefore, we have leveraged Cloud technology to provide to the SMEs enterprise class functionality at affordable price. They can get access to a wide range of software that is available on the could in a pay as you go model. There are no licensing or infrastructure costs. SMEs only need to pay on a monthly basis, like utility services. A whole range of software including data storage, office productivity, CRM and ERP products are now available on the cloud at price points that the SMEs can afford. They can manage their complete business on the cloud at zero infrastructure cost
What are the advantages that cloud solutions offers to SMEs?
Cloud computing enables SMEs to scale their resources as the business grows. They do not have to lock their capital in infrastructure and licenses. It is a completely elastic system that allows SMEs to add resources as the system grows. They can also scale down the resources and respond quickly to the market dynamics in case the business slows down.
Cloud-based services can help SMEs save money on many fronts, including hardware and software procurement and maintenance costs, power and cooling costs, and software licensing and upgrade expenses. Rather than spending money to maintain hardware that often goes unused, subscribing to software and services for a low monthly fee can help SMEs stretch their budgets further.
Cloud-based solutions can be used at any time on almost any device with an internet connection. This leads to greater collaboration, particularly for businesses with remote employees or those that have multiple branches or sites. A growing percentage of SMEs consider the ability to be productive remotely as critical to their operations. Using Cloud-based software, teams in different locations can collaborate on documents without needing to e-mail attachments and share