With industry majors like the Google Inc., announcing ambitious plans to tap small and medium business segment for their solutions, an interesting debate is on in the State on the preparedness of the segment to adopt the emerging technology for their growth.

Google Inc, has recently announced its foray into the State’s SMB space with its channel sales managing director Todd Rowe announcing that the company focused on expanding its operations in the State which tops the country in terms of the number of SME clusters. According to him, there were 25.9 lakh SMEs in the State employing close to 40 lakh and these enterprises required local support, personalized touch and simple marketing products, particularly online presence that can enhance their productivity and business significantly.

“The e-commerce business is set to touch Rs. 4,000 crore and we intend to double our footprint by the end of next fiscal,” he said. While the IT and IT enabled Services Association saw the projection with optimism, SMB segment representatives are doubtful whether this will be a reality in the foreseeable future.

The SMEs have their own concerns in this direction. The power crisis failing the industry more often than not, the cost of overheads involved in hosting their presence on the Net and the requirement for employing trained personnel to man the websites, updating information on a regular basis are some of the burdens which the SMEs could find it hard to absorb. “They might have their own projections. But for the SMEs which are already struggling to manage their daily affairs, it is not going to be an easy task,” Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises president A.P.K. Reddy said. He recalled the closure of hundreds of small and micro units owing to frequent power holidays that took a heavy toll on them while scores of others were precariously placed. ITsAP managing committee member Ramesh Loganathan admitted that upfront investment on IT applications was one major problem faced by the SMEs. There were pricing concerns in the past as also the costs of utilization of services after making investments in procuring software and hardware. “Now that the services are hosted on the cloud, it should not be a problem,” he said.

Utilising the cloud was a cost effective solution for the small businesses as they don’t need to pay for licensed software or hardware. “It is a pay for use model which the small enterprises should not find it difficult to manage,” he said.

IMImobile founder and executive chairman Vishwanath Alluri says cloud had come as a cheaper solution to small enterprises. “Unlike the Capex (capital expenditure) of the past, it is now operational expenditure (Opex) which is much cheaper,” he said. Switching over to Internet had become a necessity for the industry going by the amount of IT penetration where the traditional PCs were being fast replaced by gadgets like smart phones.