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Innovation as a weapon of choice for SMEs to restart and recover in the post COVID-19 world

Innovation as a weapon of choice for SMEs to restart and recover in the post COVID-19 world

InsightsMiddle EastTop Stories

COVID-19 has affected all businesses and with SMEs representing more than 94% of companies in the UAE, Alok Sharma, CEO, Shyocan Corporation lists down solutions that can help SMEs recover with tech and innovation in the post-pandemic world.

The business health of the SME industry is often a key indicator of a country’s economic condition. When SMEs struggle, a nation struggles. While SMEs are hard to classify based on size of investment or employees, they are critical for a country to achieve its innovation and development goals. Not to forget, they also have a huge bearing on keeping the population busy with jobs.

SMEs represents more than 94% of companies in the UAE, employing about 86% of the country’s private sector workforce and generating 52% of the non-oil GDP.

But SMEs have been hit very hard since the pandemic began. As per the PWC Middle East COVID-19 April 2020 update, SME participation and sector fragmentation was identified as one of the most vulnerable sectors. The pandemic has affected more livelihoods than lives and has the potential of tearing down the economy lockdown after lockdown. The demand and supply equation has suffered and changed dynamically over the last year and newer waves of the virus don’t seem to be making it any easier for them to recover.

What they need at this point is to demonstrate innovative thinking to keep themselves in business. It is important to understand that they exist across a wide spectrum that begins as a start-up and ends at an established medium-sized business. Here are some solutions that can help SMEs recover.

Switch to work from home

SMEs have been hit hard on both the demand and supply side. Lack of employees or labour at workspaces has brought down the overall output and, in some cases, even caused businesses to become temporarily or permanently shut. This calls for swift action. Use technology to switch to a model where employees can work from home. Adopt tools that can take your business online, provide employees with communication tools to perform from remote locations and keep the business going with bare minimum need to call employees over to workspaces.

Always remember that work from home is harder on employees than you might think. It comes with its own challenges and is not suitable for most employees. Many SMEs have recognised the stress employees undergo while they work from home. Recent research found that 77% of UAE workers felt their mental health had negatively impacted their work performance to some extent since the outbreak of COVID-19. Office and home lines blur, calendars are always full and work from home has been tougher than they imagined it to be. Companies must help employees with the right technology to empower them to better manage work as well as to look after their physical and mental health.

Go online

Take your business online with e-commerce. Enable this for your business today using various platforms available so that you can continue to serve your loyal customers and induct new ones. An e-commerce enabled business also casts a wider net to reach out and create awareness about your product.

COVID-19 acted as a good booster for Digital Transformation and accelerated the conversion to online, particularly in the case of essential categories such as grocery and was followed by retailers and other service providers.

Using medical technology

This is in reference to employee health with regards to the vaccine. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can protect employees. So, sign them up for their shots and get their health and their family’s health covered. This also helps boost employee morale and builds loyalty for them.

Most global companies have led the way in vaccinating their employees. The more drives conducted by employers, the safer employees and their families will be. The safer they are, the less the virus spreads. And this can only mean that business will get back to business.

Embrace new technologies for sanitisation

Emerging technologies for the safety of your business establishment is out there. Read up, go and seek demos to understand how new devices and tech can be used to keep your store or office space safe. Traditional methods will always be available, but in the world of smart technology, devices like the Shycocan can make spaces extremely safe from the transmission of viruses in the current pandemic, With up to 99.9% efficacy in neutralising the Coronavirus.

Help sales teams network

Your sales team cannot meet people like they used to. A Northstar Meetings Group survey revealed that event planners are seeing increasing demand for all things virtual for the next 12-18 months. So, help them register for online conferences, workshops, events and continue meeting new prospective clients for your business. They might need some training to figure out how to track these events, register and attend. So, work towards bringing your entire salesforce to the same level and keeping them inspired.

Your website is your first impression

The consumer journey towards your offering has changed drastically. They discover your business via online search and this makes your website your storefront. Ensure you revamp your website to reflect your updated services. And don’t forget to make it compatible for efficient mobile viewing. The search traffic for a London law firm was increased by 311% through clever content and website improvements. Most prospective customers start their search journey from their phones today.

All the above tips shared will take SMEs closer to keeping their head afloat, and even thrive in the current and future business atmosphere. While things get unpredictable, it’s always best to plan for the present, keeping the future in mind. Don’t stop innovating. Rely on tech. We will get to the other side of a thriving business environment together.

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