SME stands for small and medium enterprises, while ICT stands for Information Communication and Technology. ICT has helped in the growth and development of these firms by employing various tools, such as inbound logistics, operation and manufacturing, outbound logistics, marketing and sales and after sales services. All these systems, incorporated, will lead to an increase in profits in various firms. Also, setting up various websites that provide vital and useful information that educates people on the benefits and advantages of these enterprises makes their life easy.
Data Transformed into Knowledge
Data are defined as facts and figures without a specific meaning. Through the employment of various ICT systems, one can transform the data into information which can be readily helpful and used as knowledge by the public. This information can be enacted in various ways. These firms create websites that sell their ideas and concepts about the services they offer (Prakken 2009, 209). Once the public has being familiarized with the concepts, they can be able to choose the firms of their choice according to their needs. With this in mind, the importance of ICT in starting small businesses cannot be ignored. This is because it helps to publicize the firms, thereby increasing their growth rate.
Mobile or Telephone Technology
Good managers must identify the quickest way to make communications within the firm. There is some information that cannot be communicated through mails. This is because the information may be urgent. In such cases, there is a need to apply IC. Telephones are a quick and reliable way to convey information. This is because they allow for direct conversations between the involved parties (Celie 2011, 29). When a small business is about to start, this is the means that should be used in their communication. This is because it will allow the firm to conduct effective deals. It will also enhance the coordination within the firm.
Radio as the Means of Communication
While starting a small business, it can be expensive by airing the adverts on TV or creation of a website. However, a skilful manager can make different announcement to the public and also to employees on vital issues on the radio. These means of communication are cheap. The other favorable factor about it is that most of the people can afford a radio compared to a computer or a television set (Boisot, MacMillan and Han 2008, 220). One can air reasons why his/her firm is the best. One can also explain how people can contact the firm headquarters for further information on the same issue. This is also a technology that is used by most of the starting businesses.
Internet is a vast connection of computers that share information, resources and also media. Internet can be used in a starting enterprise for various reasons. Creation of a website is cheap, compared to advertisement on local television stations or international television stations. In terms of hosting the website, it is fairly cheap and affordable to the enterprises.
The websites can help in opening of accounts, revision of cash statement and also transfer of cash from one account to another (Hanna 2010, 256). The websites provide a business platform that allows the public to shop or sell their commodities and services through Internet. This is referred to as e-commerce. It can be useful in a manner that if an SME is selling policies and shares the public can just log on to their accounts buy shares and also pay through the same way at the comfort of their houses. Of all the technologies that are applied by businesses, Internet is the most used in the world today (Remenyi, Money, Sherwood-Smith and Irani 2000, 129). This is due to the increased number of Internet users all over the world. Therefore, it has been functioning as a platform, on which many business activities are carried out.
Accounting packages are the software that runs various enterprises in the day to day activities. This software can either be interlinked together from the head quarter locations or can be independent entities in the selected firm. Examples of accounting software which can be implemented by SME firm are Quick books and Point of sale. The reason behind this is that this software’s can easily be afforded and easily accessed from the market. Accounting packages can be used to store, delete, search, alter and produce receipts of the customer transactions in the firm (Rapp and Jackson 2000, 306). This technology will save more time in search of details and reducing the cues because transactions will be automated.
Social networking has played a particularly crucial role in the development of many enterprises, because it is the way forward. This is possible because of the number of people that are joining these social networks each and every day. For instance, on Facebook, which is the largest social network, many people can be communicated through it on various issues, such as what SME is, how it operates and its advantages over other enterprises.
A social network is cost effective, because it just needs Internet connection and the technical skills on how to follow the rules and procedures of opening an account. Therefore, an SME can sell its name and image, though it is extremely effectively. This is possible by creating a group name of the company, where all members working in the organization will be requested to join, and maybe through them, more people can also join (Huizenga 2004, 87). Alternatively the organization can create pages still on the social network platforms and sell the same ideas. Also, these firms can post adverts on the walls of the social website, where everyone logging to the site will be in a position to view advert.
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
This is a technology where a service can be offered to a customer, while still seeing the customer through the computer. This has been made possible by the use of webcams and fast internet connection. On starting the SME, this can be a hugely expensive mode of establishing the firm, but it can be helpful. Its main advantage is that one can be able to see the customer responses through the face and through the voice (Jones and Tilley 2003, 127). This technology can be useful in trimming of cues on the SME halls and, thus, is time saving. A person can provide details to the person, serving him to create a new account, check the balance, manipulate details and to some advanced system one can transfer money from one account to another very fast.
Mapping tools are the software that is incorporated using the GPS Technology and shows the exact location of someone on a large world map. A clear example is Google earth and dealfish.com. This tool just needs one to put one’s firm legal latitude and longitude. If a person searches one’s business either through its name or these co-ordinates, it will just show the exact location of the firm (Salkowitz 2010, 180). This can be so helpful to a SME that is just picking up, and there have set the firm maybe on somewhere hidden, and it can take the customer a lot of time to trace the exact location. The customer can just switch to Google earth, dealfish type the name of the SME and direction, or coordinates are issued to them. Mapping technology in many countries is free, because these companies offering it are, as well, advertising other products and services on their web pages.
SMS (Short Messages Sent).
This is where a person uses a mobile phone feature called SMS send and receives messages through the phone. This technology has been so helpful, especially in Africa where money transfer services are now in control. If, for instance, clients have opened accounts in the SME, people can be communicated through their numbers by writing the small messages and then directing the message to many. This will save on time, and it is effective. The service provider companies charge an extra fee.
This fee will be directed to the SME account, increasing the cash flow of the firm and benefiting the firm by giving the customers total satisfaction (Blackburn and Rosemary 1998, 97). The SMSs can also be useful tools when it comes to confirming various actions performed by a person. That is if a customer checked for balance or even the last transaction that took place through the mobile SME menu, he can send a request and receive the request on SMS.
This is where a firm can upload its video, entailing different services it offers to Internet in video mode. A good example of this service is the YouTube. This ICT technology is a vast database full of videos. These videos can be used to guide a new customer on various methods of interacting with the SME and the accounts. The rules and procedures offered there are so easy that a person can break them down into parts and perform a specific task. By the use of these videos, which are uploaded free of charge, the SME can maximize on profits and, on the other hand, serve the customer to maximum satisfaction.
These are programs that make sending and receiving of electronic mails possible. A good example of this service is Gmail offered by Google, and yahoo mail. E-mail Services provide a platform of interaction between the SME and its client, either by use of computers or even mobile phones. The E-mail received can lead to the profit maximization, depending on the help that the client is looking for. For example, if the client wants to deposit money or withdraw money from the SME account (Feng 2006, 129). The e-mail can contain the procedure on how to do that.
Also, the firm manager can use e-mails to communicate to different staff in the organization. For example, if the managers want to organize a meeting instead of posting a memo on the notice board, an email can be used to communicate with them.
A blog is a discussion website posted on the www. This website is just small and mostly it contains comments of people. It is easy to design and it does not require hosting. It is incorporated by other large website. An SME can create a firm blog that can be used by the public, in case of any help. A blog does not consume many bundles to open, because it is clear, and it does not contain large images or video.
Blogs can also contain the hyperlinks of the SME websites that will direct you to the main website. This will help the customer to transact and interact with the SME system either to withdraw or deposit (Sveiby, Gripenberg and Segercrantz 2012, 120). This will lead to an increase of cash flow within the firm and profits will be maximized. Clients will enjoy the firm benefits easily, and the will be happy customers.
Implementation of the ICT Tools
In order to yield more profits and benefits, there must be cheap and faster communication at place. This ensures that there is a maximum coordination in the firms. The firm must identify the relevant software to use in order to cut the down expenses and focus on increased profits. The firms must have the knowhow on how to communicate to customers through Internet, mobile phones, radio frequencies and e-mails. The firms can employ mode of selling and buying of services online. Buying and selling of policies and shares can be fast, if the transaction is done through Internet. After all this has been made a success, the firm can finally enact an after sale service software which will give or show the customer’s satisfaction level. Implementation of these tools just requires small starting force, even if the organization is small.
The above discussed points can be fundamental in the starting of small firms, as well as growth of the existent firms. In general, ICT will help in boosting the businesses competitiveness and expansion on the economy table. By embracing Internet on the SME, this will lead to a three time increment to the firms. Use of accounting packages or software to trim the manual work by 88% and this will increase and yield to more profits. Also, by employing software that foretells or analyzes the future expectation of the trends on the market growth, this will enable the SME managerial sector to prepare in advance in case of any change. ICT will lead to an improvement of business transaction, reducing the room for errors, but enhancing the effective expansion of the firms. By these factors, more people will tend to join these firms, and in return, more cash will be in circulation. Therefore, the role of ICT will lead to benefits and advantages which could not have been experienced in its absence.