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By Esam Mahmoud, SVP SMB, e& UAE

There has never been a time in history that has witnessed the evolution of start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the digitally powered way we are experiencing today. Digitalization is good for business and the planet, and businesses are learning how to adopt it, use it, and thrive.

According to a global study, 92% of SMBs believe digital transformation is crucial for their business. The question is, what are they doing to sustainably harness the power of digital? While technology updates are a hot topic and businesses are keen to leverage the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT), the question of “how?” is not as easy.

Digital Adoption: Growth in SMBs

Over the past few years, SMBs have accelerated the adoption of digital technology in various aspects of their businesses, resulting in a profound impact.

Globally, similar to the Middle East, there has been a significant interest in digital technologies between 2019 (pre-COVID-19 period) and 2021. The pandemic reshaped industries and accelerated the adoption of remote work. As a result of their resilience and adaptability, SMBs were compelled to leverage technology for collaborative work, reduce overhead costs, lower carbon emissions, and embrace flexible work arrangements.

Simultaneously, the rise of online shopping led SMBs to digitize their operations. E-commerce platforms have become the bridge connecting businesses with a vast digital marketplace. A recent report estimated that the region’s e-commerce sector will reach a market volume of USD 50 billion by 2025.

SMBs today recognize the important role of social media and are strategically embracing these platforms to enhance their online presence, engage with customers, and reach a broader audience. In addition, they have good access to technological advancements that were once the domain of large enterprises. SMBs are adopting CRM systems, AI-powered customer support solutions and feedback management tools to meet customer expectations and improve their experience.

Sustainability Challenges in Technology Adoption

Despite the accessibility and strong desire to transition to digital, not all SMBs have the capacity to undertake this transformation. SMBs generally lack clear strategic goals and practical paths. They face challenges in digitally-based eco-innovations, business capacity building, and talent training (particularly regarding telecom and digital services).

Limited budgets make it difficult to invest in infrastructure, equipment, and connectivity. Lack of in-house resources and expertise further hampers the organization’s ability to navigate complex technologies, from managing networks sustainably to optimizing digital marketing strategies. Scalability, a crucial aspect of SMB growth, poses its own challenges, requiring solutions that can flexibly adapt to evolving business needs.

Growth through Digital Innovation

The world is paying attention to the UAE as it progresses with its strategic sustainability goals to lower carbon emissions through scientific innovation and technological advancements. Following in the country’s footsteps, e&’s transition from a telco to a technology group is rooted in a digital-first mindset to drive sustainability for its customers and the communities it operates in.

In serving SMBs, at etisalat by e&, we utilize technology, analytics, and innovation to deliver exceptional experiences and services sustainably through a customer-centric culture and data-driven insights.

We understand the challenges SMBs face when transitioning towards digitalization. We recognize the impact of having limited budgets, so our solutions are built using an OpEx model. Why? So that businesses do not have to invest in upfront costs and can opt for monthly payments instead.

We offer SMBs various scalable and managed solutions that cater to their requirements while saving them from investing in in-house resources and expertise. An example is the recently launched, managed ‘Wi-Fi as a service’ that addresses the specific demand of SMBs for Wi-Fi connectivity throughout their premises.

To digitally empower businesses with a robust platform for brand enhancement, we introduced an all-new business proposition— Business Pro— which enables the modern workplace with business and user benefits. We also launched uTap— a payment solution that aims to help businesses of all sizes with omnichannel payment management and business automation solutions to make payment transactions seamless for SMBs.

As the SMB landscape undergoes a profound shift, etisalat by e& stands as a reliable partner for businesses in the UAE. Through innovative solutions, a commitment to customer experience, and a strong presence in the evolving digital landscape, we are committed to empowering SMBs to navigate and thrive sustainably in the digital ecosystem of the future.

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