In early 2014, Google had stated that it aims to bring half a million Small & Medium Businesses (SMB) in India online by the end of 2015. “Helping SMBs succeed online is the key to our long-term success in India. There is a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to grow if they take advantage of online tools, and it will result in a better experience for users and for businesses,” Google’s VP and Global Head of SMBs, Allan Thygesen had said then.
Later during the end of the year, Google addressed India as a ‘strategic market’. “India is a strategic market for Google and we are committed to invest in solutions that cater to the needs of SMBs in India,” said Suryanarayana Kodukulla, Head of SMB sales, Google India.
“India has over 48 million small medium businesses and out of this, 10 million SMBs can immediately embrace Internet and these are urban business, mom and pop stores, retail stores etc.”
During the same time Google had launched a new product, ‘Google My Business’ to help Indian small medium businesses succeed online.
Accepting the changing behaviour of consumer and businesses mobile dependence, the new product was designed to work across both desktop and mobile devices (tablets and smart phones). The objective was to help small & medium businesses to create and update their business information on Google Search, Maps and Google+ from one place for free in both Hindi and English.
Later in December 2014, Google pushed the app culture with the launch of ‘Google My Business’ app. The simple app launched in Rajasthan did the same job – businesses could create and update their business info on Google Search, Maps and Google+ from one place for free both in English and Hindi.
“Jaipur is among top 15 cities which contribute to 60 percent of SME business but still their online presence is quite low. Google’s product will help them increase their online presence and get discovered by their potential clients,” said Suryanarayana.
However the efforts were not driving desired results to Google as a majority of the SMEs were still conducting their businesses offline.
Out of the estimated 51 million small & medium businesses, only five – six percent have online presence. Studies done by Google indicate that at least 20 percent of India’s SMBs are already equipped with infrastructure to leverage technology but need the help of digital experts to help them navigate some of the complexities in the constantly changing digital landscape.
Understanding the current set of problems of SMEs, Google India recently launched a new initiative called Google Advantage to gain from the rising Internet user base in the country. The initiative will entail Google hosting an offline symposium to educate small & medium businesses on the benefits of the Internet and also provide one-on-one consultation on how to use the latest online tools and technologies to meet their business objectives.
The initiative is designed to help small & medium businesses get first hand information from Google and its partners. The initiative that is being held in Delhi from 7-12 September, 2015 is being executed in partnership with Google agency partners IPG Mediabrands. The program will be extended to more cities based on the feedback.
This latest set of engagement with SMEs closely follows other social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, who are also trying to grab attention of SMEs.
Digital is still scratching the surface in India but mobile is going to be the saviour. According to the We are Social report on the Digital growth in India, the country has an Internet penetration of 27% i.e. 350 million out of 1,285 million total population. However there has been a positive growth of 44% during the period of August, 2015. Mobile, which is gradually becoming the primary screen for Indians, has seen a growth of 5%.
Present initiatives from Google are encouraging as not only are they working with consumer behaviour but also educating the SMEs with ever evolving digital landscape. Facebook is doing the same to grow confidence among the SMEs and engage with consumers on similar platforms.
Good news for SMEs, at a time when the BJP led NDA government has decided to airlift the micro, small and medium enterprise sector of country ignored for decades and give it the much needed push. The government’s effort is to help start-ups and existing entrepreneurs to link their business proposals and ideas with new markets, easy finance and better technologies. It has allocated Rs 3,300 crore to the MSME sector in the current budget, the highest ever the sector has ever got.