Rebounding Stronger in 2022: Key Predictions for SMBs

 

Himangshu Baruah
Director of Marketing
APAC India at Softline

Himangshu Baruah is the Director of Marketing for APAC & India at Softline. He has been with the company since it started its operations in India in 2014. With a vast and rich experience in the field of Marketing strategy creation, management and execution, he leads Softline’s cross region team of marketers in their efforts at establishment of Softline as a global brand amongst other marketing activities.

2021 was a year of opportunity for SMBs to rebuild themselves and embrace the new digital-first model of business. Predicting what lies next, 2022 will bring in more possibilities and challenges as organizations continue adapting to a digitally enabled future.

With rapid change in dynamics of the market, it is essential for SMBs to stay ahead of the pack by leveraging technology. Here are some strategy improvements that can ensure business excellence for SMBs in 2022 and beyond.

Digital is a continuum

The future calls for the emergence of digital-ready SMBs. We’re seeing an exponential push towards a changed mindset and the rapid adoption of ultramodern technologies like IoT, data analytics, mobile-first solutions, and AI/ML. Growing businesses are digitalizing employee and customer experiences to stay competitive in the new reality. Fast-paced transformation is also key to operational efficiency, value creation, customer-centricity, and reviving relationships.

Cloud is the way forward

Cloud empowers businesses to

  • accelerate innovation,
  • enable hybrid work,
  • create a digital services delivery pipeline, and
  • Rethink customer experiences.

With the democratization of technology, businesses are moving towards enterprise-wide cloud migration to optimize resilience, scalability, infrastructure, risk, and cost.

Diverse talent acquisition is a new business imperative

Digital skills requirements, new work structures, and changing employee expectations are transforming the talent pool more than ever. Together, these forces are catalyzing the emergence of a highly competitive workforce ecosystem, well adept to function in the digital workspace. Employers are focusing on diversification of skill sets at their disposal and shifting away from traditional hiring protocols to achieve competitive differentiation.

Employee enablement is everything

The rapidly evolving market conditions demand that organizations invest in workforce training and development to build their roadmap for success. Even entry-level, inexperienced talent needs to be enabled with the right tools and technologies. Equally important is a flexible workplace culture that offers employees the leeway to work from anywhere. The changing times are also centered on the human element – breaking down silos and fostering trust and empathy with employees to boost their learning, retention, and engagement.

Agile solution delivery matters more than anything

An ever-transforming business environment demands customer-centricity and the building of innovative solutions to maximize business resilience. Bringing the right solutions at the right time through the right delivery channels creates opportunities for leadership, sustained customer relationships, and business growth. Organizations must implement high-quality software delivery modes to enhance their responsiveness to customer needs. Fast-paced adaptation to new technological, industrial, and cultural trends alone can accelerate business change.

Empowering SMBs to be Productive Anywhere, Anytime

A culture of innovation, modern capabilities, cross-functional team integration, and constant improvements are more crucial today than ever before. SMBs need cutting-edge technology solutions that help them realize these goals. Designed for hybrid work, Softline Digital Workplace Solutions empower small and medium enterprises to push the limits of productivity, efficiency, and flexibility – anywhere, anytime, and every time. Bringing the promise of security and agility, the solutions supercharge your workforce to get the most out of their workday and deliver outcomes that matter the most for your business.

Why should SMB leaders pivot to technology for realizing digital transformation goals?

 

Kartik Shah
Director of Sales
Softline India

Kartik Shah is the Director of Sales at Softline India and has been with the company since it started its operations in India in 2014. He has a long and intense experience in the field of solutions sales and managed services. He is skilled in developing and leading an elite team of professionals to secure sales excellence in our push to partner with various enterprise customers.

One of the most critical aspects of customers and market landscape that businesses need to understand is that – they evolve.

Large enterprises have already taken substantial measures to steer digital transformation with an aim to thrive in this ever-changing age. In fact, according to Gartner, 87% of senior business leaders state that digitalization is an organizational priority1. Hence, it has become imperative for SMBs too, to re-align their IT and investment strategy in order to adopt the right technology stack to realize their digitalization goals.

Today, CEOs need to revisit how the business operates and re-look at the existing technology stack. This helps in designing the way forward in a digital-first world. The onus lies upon the C-suite leaders to build a strategic roadmap to ensure business continuity, and there is no denying that the role of a CEO has also evolved.

To keep pace with the changing business dynamics, many forward-thinking CEOs are making significant digital investments to transform and modernize business operations. However, many SMBs are still grappling with issues related to technology investments, customer experience, employee productivity, and data security to name a few.

The good news is that technology innovation plays a great leveler for SMBs in this information age. Emerging technologies enable businesses to drive value across process and operational areas.

Mentioned below are a few ways in which technology accelerates transformation –

Transforming the business model

Traditional businesses are reimagining business models while adopting technologies to deliver enhanced value to consumers. Leveraging Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, and Analytics, these businesses are constantly aligning with the market demands.

Transforming business processes

Being one of the most basic units of operations, businesses are transforming their processes by integrating technologies such as Machine Learning, AI, and Multi Clouds. These are further helping in enhancing service and product quality. It is also improves customer experience by accelerating delivery time.

Transforming the workforce

People are the most powerful assets for any business. To empower its people in today’s hyper-connected ‘work from anywhere’ age, businesses are investing in devices and technologies to equip the workforce to work from anywhere while keeping data secure.

Effective digital transformation is when a business can embrace distributed decision-making, agile workflows, and a digitally enabled and connected culture.

Time for CEOs to become Digital Leaders

The volatility of the past few years unveiled many vulnerabilities that CEOs had never imaged before. Yet there are many who rose to the challenge with digital capacities playing a significant role in keeping businesses resilient.

To thrive amid uncertainties, CEOs and business leaders of today need to understand that being a digital organization will bring in a competitive edge. Digitally enabled SMBs become more resilient, flexible, and secure. And this helps them in keeping pace with emerging industry demands. So, it’s paramount that effective digital transformation initiatives are at the center of their business strategy.

In order to achieve this, SMBs need to turn to external IT support services providers that can help in managing and protecting their IT infrastructure and digital assets. External support can help enable their workforce to work from anywhere with a secure, flexible, and agile setup. Softline Digital Workplace solutions enable SMBs to keep their business in action in the face of disruption while freeing their IT team to focus on innovation, to drive business growth and strategic projects.


Mobilize Every Function in the Organization for Digitalization

Preparing Your Business for The Future Workforce

 

Vinod Nair
Managing Director
Softline India

The rise of automation has brought a seismic wave of job transition across industries. With technology entering almost every aspect of the workplace, the need to ensure the workforce is equipped with the essential tools, technology, and skills has further escalated. According to a Deloitte report1, 88% of companies believe in the importance of redesigning their work model. Looking at such a scope of change, business leaders need to rethink their roles and become more proactive to realize transformation and drive enhanced business outcomes.

As digital continues to transform the business landscape, successful organizations of the future will likely be those that will quickly embrace the new reality, optimize their structure, processes, and culture to navigate these unexpected and gradual changes, while adjusting to the dynamic market environments. For Softline India, powering the modern workforce with end-to-end technology solutions and enabling effective transformation is the gamechanger to secure resiliency and business continuity. And we are dedicatedly working towards this mission by working closely on the transformation journey of our enterprise customers.

Reevaluating L&D to Secure Business Growth

Recent market disruptions have necessitated the need to adopt a forward-thinking approach to strategically anticipate future skills, innovate, and remain competitive. Organizations today need to ensure that their employees are equipped with the right tools and technology to enable seamless collaboration, connectivity, and productivity across multiple locations. According to a survey by Mckinsey2, online collaboration tools and digital workplaces facilitate increased productivity by up to 30%.

To overcome anticipated business challenges for preparing for the future of work, technology has emerged as a key enabler in effecting the much-needed change. According to a VMWare report3, 87% of CIOs believe digitally empowering their employees can drive at least 5% additional revenue growth over three years. Furthermore, the impact of algorithmic economics based in AI and machine learning will likely be transformative for the eventual fate of work.

Some of the critical aspects of enabling a prospering future include:

  • Preparing workforce for AI’s imminent impact.
  • Offering accessible solutions.
  • Incorporating flexible working hours.
  • Enhancing employee experiences through intelligent tools & technology.
  • Integrate contingent and autonomous workers into space requirements.

Having a team that is well-adept at solving complex business challenges, Softline India serves as an influential partner for enterprises in driving their transformation journey. Our customer-first approach allows us to consolidate technology expertise for offering brand-independent solutions which best serves our customer needs. Several use cases bear testimony on how enterprises are able to leverage our competency and extensive resources to effectively enable digital transformation and unlock a new world of possibilities.

The Way Forward

The future of the workforce may be uncertain, but it is undeniably exciting. A recent report by the World Economic Forum4 states that 75 million jobs could be displaced by 2022 due to the onslaught of machines and algorithms. However, this very trend is also expected to create approximately 133 million new job roles. While it ensures greater freedom and flexibility at work for employees more than ever before, organizations can leverage this opportunity to maximize productivity and enhance business outcomes. What will remain crucial is enabling a hybrid workplace that is an amalgamation of both in-office and remote employees. Organizations need to create a strategic approach for bringing in policies around employee’s experience of technology, digital upskilling, inclusivity, collaboration, and employee wellbeing into their existing business models.

Change, I believe will be the only constant in the years to come. But, with the right approach, tools, and support, you can add value not just to your customers but also the next-gen workforce. One key learning which I have had in my corporate life is that collaboration and communication can open a new realm of possibilities and untapped opportunities of growth.

Cybersecurity – an organizational priority for SMBs

 

Shashidhar Rachuri
Director – CoE
Softline India

Until recently, cyber-attacks, more specifically data breaches, have been considered as problems for large organizations and businesses. After all, large organizations are more prone to these attacks, as they have a plethora of capital, IP resources, and other important data. The Yahoo breach of 2013 exemplifies this fact. On the other hand, like their large counterparts, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks. As revealed by a 2019 study by Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks across the globe are aimed at SMBs.1

Cyberattacks: A looming threat for SMBs

India falls among the top 5 countries affected by ransomware2, with SMBs facing cyber threats on a regular basis. With the fight against cybercriminals having become a ground reality for SMBs, the time has come for them to devise a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. But before they get ready with such a strategy, they first need to gain an in-depth understanding of all types of vulnerabilities — internal or external — that can affect their businesses.

If experts’ opinions are anything to go by, cyberattacks can happen either because an organization’s vulnerabilities were not quickly fixed, poor incident response planning, inadequate/poor planning on security posture or slow patching cadence allowed the attack to continue to spread. Some common types of cyber-attack methods that organizations should be aware of include — hacking, phishing, DDoS attacks, spyware, data thefts, and the dreaded ransomware. Essentially, SMBs should adopt a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity focusing on multiple layers of security controls, including assessment, multi-factor authentication, an effective data backup strategy, IT security planning, investing in security technologies and implementing security awareness training.

It’s time to relook at your organization’s security posture and add some checks. It is important for every enterprise to secure their business. To deal with constantly evolving cyber threats, it is imperative for them to protect their devices and software network with cutting-edge security solutions available and update them on a regular interval. Even, business leaders must ensure that only authorized employees get access to sensitive data and Applications.

In addition to building a robust Cybersecurity framework, one has to relook at their policies as well.

  • Data Backup (How and where are we storing this data? How do we protect it? Who has access internally and externally to the data? What is the risk methodology?)
  • Securing the Devices & Network (Making sure all devices are checked/verified and all software’s & patches are updated)
  • Activate Data Encryption (Data encryption is a security method where information is encoded and can only be accessed or decrypted by a user with the correct encryption key)
  • Use Multi-factor Authentication (Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is an authentication method that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource such as an application, online account, or a VPN)
  • Comprehensive Monitoring System
  • Implement Security Policies (Clear cybersecurity policies while sharing data (internal or external; over intranet or internet) more importantly what to access on Internet and what applications are allowed in the Enterprise)
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Training for users

A point to note here is that today’s cybercriminals are technically more advanced and therefore, SMBs should be aware of emerging threats.

The future of the workplace is digital, and its security requirements are evolving rapidly. Conventional security methods that focus on some established methods are giving way to modern workplace solutions integrated into a cloud platform. With more and more employees working from home and the hybrid workplace gaining momentum, a holistic digital workplace solution has emerged as a critical tenet for success. With this, SMBs can take care of every aspect of information and IT security, protect their data and IP while ensuring the satisfaction and effectiveness of employees, as they can work flexibly from any location in a complex work environment.

Digital strategy – an important tenet in the hybrid work model

Vinod Nair
Managing Director
Softline India

With the growing popularity of hybrid workplace models, digital transformation has gained momentum across small and medium businesses (SMBs). As revealed by a survey conducted by rating agency CRISIL, over 40% of SMBs relied on digital technologies to operate during the COVID-19 crisis.1 Initially, embracing new technologies was ad hoc in nature. But as the pandemic pushed SMBs to operate in a hybrid workplace, it has imperative for them to devise and implement digital transformation strategies that can support the fast-emerging hybrid work structure.

Digitally empowered hybrid workplace – the new normal

For SMBs, being digitally empowered to support their hybrid work culture is no longer a choice but a necessity, as they now need to work amid COVID restrictions.

Now, talent is being recruited virtually, customers are being onboarded remotely, and teams are required to connect and collaborate, anytime from anywhere. To put it in a nutshell, today’s workplace is virtual, and functions on-the-go with remote access. It is more like an omnichannel structure that allows employees to connect from any location, securely and easily, through different means, such as video calling, chat, and cloud telephony.

This also means shifting legacy infrastructure and on-premises technology to the cloud, thereby paving the way for businesses to become agile so that they can support a remote, flexible workforce. Further, the customizable nature of digital technologies allows SMBs to adapt to an evolving environment easily.

Building a hybrid workplace by leveraging digital practices

A hybrid workplace does not mean hybrid IT: To build a true hybrid workplace, SMBs need to ensure that their employees must have access to all essential equipment and systems required to get their job done, no matter whether they are in the office or at home. A true hybrid workplace paves way for every employee to collaborate and communicate on an equal footing. In this work culture, IT is an important enabler that puts in place all the tools that ensure better collaboration. For example, Windows Virtual Desktop and MS RDS – virtualization & VDI. This is essential to implement a work-from-anywhere system that allows all employees to work efficiently.

Sync between synchronous and asynchronous workflows: Since employee requirements and preferences change and the work environment keeps transforming, organizations should ensure workplace collaboration around their asynchronous, as well as synchronous workflows.

With the hybrid work environment, asynchronous workflows are likely to rise and the collaborative environment of SMBs should not only address but also ease the shift. In such cases, various communication tools like Microsoft TEAMS can assist everyone in getting involved and being able to collaborate and contribute, irrespective of their locations.

Ensuring cybersecurity: For SMBs, cybersecurity is a mission-critical matter. Remote working increases the risk of undermining the security and privacy of data and information. Therefore, real-time threat detection and the prevention of endpoint data loss is an important security feature for a hybrid team. Besides, SMBs should provide all employees with a trustworthy VPN service to ensure the protection of all important data.

Connected Workspace for Seamless Collaboration: The Future of Work

Kiran Arunkumar Babu
Services Manager
Softline India

The year gone by witnessed a new level of digital evolution with smarter devices and intelligent technologies. With the rapidly changing market dynamics and work becoming location-agnostic, digital workplace is becoming the new reality. According to Avanade’s definitive digital workplace research1, organizations have experienced a 67% hike in productivity, a 53% increase in employee engagement, and a 43% improvement in revenue by adopting the virtual workplace model.

Supported by ubiquitous connectivity and an array of collaborative tools, remote working is increasingly accepted by organizations across industries to stay agile and ensure business continuity. At Softline, we are constantly innovating and creating end-to-end technology solutions to power our customers’ digital transformation journey and build business resilience.

Optimizing Workforce with Adaptive Workplace

As organizations are transforming to embrace the remote work culture, technology has become a key enabler to quickly adapt to the connected workspace model. A recent Gartner report2 revealed that 74% of companies plan to shift their on-site employees to permanent remote positions in the post-pandemic world.

Being a leading global information technology solutions & services provider, Softline works with a customer-first approach to serve brand-independent solutions that best fit their needs. Through our partnership with Microsoft, we equip businesses with the right technology and tools like Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Microsoft Azure, and Mobile Device Management (MDM) services to realize the future of work.

Our broad portfolio of solutions helps organizations to plan, deploy, and manage their mobile environments with adequate technical expertise to achieve their goals faster. The entire solution design is executed under the observation of Service Managers from the technical & feasibility perspective. They devise new and innovative approaches to ensure the customer receives best-in-class services and support starting from understanding customer needs to implementing the solutions.

Softline & Microsoft – A Strong Partnership

As business leaders, we need to visualize, strategize, and identify unique potential and capabilities to be able to truly innovate and create a definitive growth plan. With Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing service, organizations can meet the evolving business challenges while getting the freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive network using a host of tools & frameworks.

Through the partnership with Microsoft, Softline enables enterprises to maximize productivity with effective digital transformation in the changing market scenario. With the extended lockdown in the wake of the pandemic, one of the leading general insurance companies in India was facing delayed & longer sales cycles and technology challenges. Matching their business needs was Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. The deployment enabled them to connect & collaborate with prospective clients on a unified platform from their remote locations while ensuring business continuity. In another scenario, Softline empowered a leading investment & financial services provider in India to create a connected workspace with Microsoft Teams and overcome data protection challenges with EMS + Windows 10. Softline continues to work on its mission to enable enterprises to realize business transformation, in both private and public sectors.

Catalyzing Business Growth with Softline

Innovation is at the heart of Softline. Serving over 60,000 enterprises and SMBs worldwide, we are committed to keeping our promises and building long-term trust-based relationships with our clients, partners, and employees. We are constantly innovating to deliver new solutions that are efficient for every task. Our dedicated efforts in serving our clients garnered us more than 65% growth in 2019FY. As a global Microsoft Partner, Softline excels in providing Microsoft-based modern workplace solutions covering all aspects of IT from infrastructure deployment to management & security, and data storage & data exchange to process automation. Softline aims to further the goal to build the future together with clients and enable them to maximize their business growth.

The Future of Work

The way we work has changed. Now is the time to transform untapped opportunities into tangible business value. According to Gartner3, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% by 2030 due to a stronger preference for remote work by Gen Z. Connected and collaborative workspaces is the need of the hour to unlock the future of work, today.

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