Experts have tasked firms in the country to take advantage of social technologies in creating awareness for and growing their businesses. They say social technology has evolved from simply another ‘‘new media’’ platform to an increasing important business tool, with wide-ranging capabilities.
Today, more than 1.5 billion people around the globe have an account on a social networking site, and almost one in five online hours is spent on social networks – increasing via mobile devices.
Thousands of companies have found that social technologies can generate rich new forms of consumer insights at lower cost and faster than conventional methods.
According to them, the growth of social technologies has opened up a vast arena, providing more opportunities for businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to sell their products and services to a global audience than they would have been able to afford to reach using the traditional methods.
‘‘Market has transition from seller centric market to buyer centric market. Yesterday to make purchase buyers needed to get information about the product from business or sales person, but today the user gets the information from various sources online,’’ said Deepankar Rustagi, co-founder and general manager, Vconnect.com in a keynote address during BusinessDay 2013 SME Forum in Lagos.
‘‘We are in a digital age and do not need to run analogue businesses. SMEs can choose social media platforms that work for them,’’ said Augustine Edet, executive director/chief operating officer, Nextzon Business Services, in a presentation on ‘Growing your Business through Social Media,’ adding that social media can help SMEs grow their businesses, by acquiring customers, connecting with potential hires, including increasing public awareness of their businesses.
Given the strategic importance of the SME sector to growth and job creation, and the large base of current internet users as well as potential users, the success of SMEs gaining business leverage from the internet and social technologies are critical to the future of global economies.
Analysts, however, say despite the identified benefits and opportunities of new technologies, they still suffer from hype and other problems such as security of information and content control. They note that some of the barriers to the introduction and use of new technologies in SMEs include the difficulties in quantifying future benefits, the uncertainty about technology as well as lack of knowledge and resources to implement technology.
Experts believe the internet and its technologies have more to offer SMEs than the established traditional environment for communication and information processing, allowing them to implement effective globalisation strategies, which would be otherwise impossible due to the complexity of doing business in foreign countries, including establishing an effective inter-business collaboration.
Recent studies show that the explosive growth of the internet has led to widespread usage of online services, and being connected to the internet has become a priority for both large and small companies.
According to the study, the flexibility of internet potentially provides a unique opportunity for SMEs to participate in a global market and an efficient way of exposing their products and services to a wide range of global audience.