Initially reserved for large companies, the use of advanced technological tools is now popularized to the point that it is virtually impossible to find a company with no website, Facebook page, Twitter account, or computerized internal process management system.
In the age of digitalization, despite all the facilities that seem to be given, not all SMEs can jump on the bandwagon and modernize their internal processes to keep pace with the ever-changing technological environment. This is particularly the case in some developing countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
The first reason for this is the high cost of technological transformation coupled with the difficulty of gaining access to finance. Indeed, technological change is sometimes too expensive for the limited resources of local SMEs. Even though there are some funding mechanisms put in place by some public and private bodies, those are very selective and only a handful of SMEs can claim it. For the others, it is necessary to develop long terms digital transformation plans financed by equity, which may have the consequence of slowing down their potential growth.
Another reason is fear of change. For some SMEs, the human dimension of customer relationship management is crucial, because of the type of activities they carry out. For example, family businesses or craft companies operating in the business sector since several decades might find it difficult to take the plunge. These companies fear that digitization jeopardizes the human relations they took years and years to build.
The lack of training for employees and executives in the use of specific technological tools is also a reason. There is a kind of mismatch between the training provided in local universities and the technological needs of SMEs.
These are some of the challenges SMEs have to face regarding technological advancement, and these issues will be significant challenges for the next five years in Africa, Asia, and South America.
One way to address these issues is through the use of international online marketplaces like Export Portal. They make it easy for SMEs to join the technological revolution, putting them in contact with hundreds of other verified businesses and logistics companies in the import/export business.
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