The Invisible Economic Power of Real Business Software
Start-ups get all the hype these days. To a large extent, this is well justified. We certainly salute any team that sets forth to re-invent an entire industry through innovative uses of modern technology and better business models. In fact, building innovative on-line platforms for start-ups is a large part of what we do.
Society's fascination with start-ups, however, is a bit disproportionate. While enthusiastically rooting for start-ups, we tend to forget who are the real core players in any modern economy. The glorified start-up founders are newcomers to the party of another kind of entrepreneur. More modest, more risk-averse, but arguably more fundamental are the so-called Small and Medium Enterprises / SME's (also known as Small and Medium Businesses / SMB's). Taken as a category, SME's have a far greater everyday impact on the economy than start-ups, in terms of employment and revenues. In developed countries, SME's are responsible for a good 90% of all economic activity (e.g. the official figure for Japan is 92%) and are the most important workforce employers (82% of the UK workforce is employed by SME's).
Until recently, and to a very large degree even today, most traditional small businesses have not taken advantage of any kind of IT automation. Business processes have overwhelmingly been implemented and managed mostly by pen and paper - and armies of book-keepers. The SME's that "embrace" technology have usually been limited to using generic - yet surprisingly expensive - proprietary tools, such as spreadsheets or commercial databases with rudimentary forms-based user interfaces. These basic tools have been mis-used and abused countless times by countless businesses worldwide. We have seen Excel spreadsheets (running into gigabytes in size!) used to manage warehouse inventory, accounting data, customer orders, industrial measurements, and just about anything imaginable. Some businesses run routine calculations on such spreadsheets that sometimes take days (and nights) to complete.
As business software engineers, when we get the opportunity to build and implement custom, modern software solutions for a business client that actually help them become more efficient - massive amounts of time, money and effort are saved. Sometimes this makes the difference between success and failure of the business. Often, this new-found power of efficient business automation gives SME's the competitive advantage that they need to finally be able to strongly differentiate their core offering from that of the competition. This is when real profits and large-scale growth start being achieved on a whole new level.
Every once in a while, a particularly successful software solution spreads (usually by word of mouth) and becomes adopted by a large number of businesses. When this happens, the productivity gains aggregated over all business users of that solution are so great, that the entire economy grows. You will rarely see this reflected in the media, the way a start-up success is celebrated. In fact, you'll likely never know about it.
If you would like to partner with us in building and delivering bespoke business process automation software to SME's in any industry, feel free to contact us.