In an exclusive interview with SME Times, Arun Meena, Founder & CEO, RHA Technologies, said that IT needs
to be a foundational element for today’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Excerpts of the interview...
· Please tell our readers about RHA Technologies
and its entrepreneurial journey.
Arun Meena: RHA Technologies is the brainchild of IIT Kanpur graduate, Arun
Meena. The organization for the first time in India enables the unique trust
dependent outsourced tech co-founder offering for Start-ups and SMEs. RHA
Technologies team’s experience with multiple organizations including MNC
clients across sectors in Education, Real Estate, BFSI, Media &
Entertainment, social media, and new age businesses.
Our customer centricity and domain expertise enabled RHA
Technologies to secure an MNC client along with two start-ups as outsourced
tech cofounder / CTO in the first 3 months itself. The organization has since
created rapid momentum despite the pandemic. The initial small team of
passionate technologists based organization, has within a year, transformed
itself in to team of 70 strong professionals with expertise across wider
spectrum of technologies. The organizational value system has enabled a larger client
base and more importantly further strengthen our customer centricity in our
phase of rapid expansion.
· What product and services do you offer?
Arun Meena:RHA Technologies provides empathetic and synergistic technology
consulting, digital transformation, and technology services and solutions to
the MNCs and founders of start-ups and SMEs worldwide. We thus enable the
client organizations to realize and strengthen their innovation,
differentiation, valuation and market offering. We build digital, and Internet
solutions, such as end-to-end product and Software-as-a-Service platform development
that focuses on moving the client's business forward. We use solutions around
AI/ML, Cloud, IoT, Mobile, Automation, Data, and Block chain to transform
organizations across processes, business models, customer experience, and
products and services. RHA Technologies works alongside clients as trusted
advisors to deliver value by helping them create opportunities using
· What is the current situation in the Indian IT
Arun Meena:2021 has been a year of uncertainty, yet it has been a watershed
year for technology sector, the pace and width of digitization has undergone
dramatic transformation in the wake of the pandemic. According to NASSCOM, the Indian
technology industry produces about 27 percent of the nation's exports and
provides livelihoods to about 4.4 million people. From the current estimated
USD 194 bn Indian IT industry can reach USD 300-350 bn by 2025 if it can win in
the cloud, AI, cyber security, and other emerging technologies.
On the ground, we as a boutique IT services organization are seeing
a changed attitude to IT. Initially cost-cutting measures were put in to play
to manage the pandemic induced slowdown. However, soon business owners realized
that digital transformation is creating market winners with better access to
customers and suppliers. The current perspective towards IT is that of accelerated
investment. The bottleneck is once again availability of quality talent. Investment
in digital transformation, cloud efficiencies and leverage of advances in AI
and data analytics are setting the pace for the industry. Traditionally laggard
sectors like healthcare, real estate and education are leading digital adoption
· How important is IT for SMEs and start-ups?
Arun Meena:IT needs to be the foundational element for SMEs now. Start-ups traditionally
tended to have tech as a core element. With customers locked up in their homes,
and offices shuttered with Work from Home policy, the age of physical
relationship and contact building is on pause. Even the interaction with suppliers
needs to be tech driven to ensure consistency and predictability.
SMEs must look at technology as both a business growth enabler and
a means to save costs. Often, SMEs think that all they need is to create a
website and half of digitization is achieved, but having a website, is a
digital presence akin to having a permanent hoarding at the simplest level and
opening the first showroom at a slightly higher level in the physical world.
Beyond the website is the heart of audience engagement, market expansion and
value creation. Technology adoption or the digital transformation should thus
help SMEs / Start-ups in at least one of these three areas – a) access a
broader market, b) improve customer services, and c) reduce time or cost
intensive manual work.
According to KPMG, profits of digitally engaged SME businesses grew
at nearly double the rate compared to only 10% for offline business. This can
be the difference between surviving and success.
· How can traditional SMBs compete in the Digital
Arun Meena:Digital transformation is key to
remaining competitive in this global economy. SMEs have to work with SMAC (Social,
mobile, analytics, and cloud) and IoT to beat competition from players from
across the world and meet customer expectations.
Once the above is done, then the focus
should be on digitizing the customer journey and experience and capturing the
data. This will provide SMEs insights about the various areas of their business
be it cost, best customers, seasonality, bundling, discounts, wasted discounts,
supplier’s efficiency, supplier quality/cost, logistics costs, etc.
SMEs need the right partner who can help
them create a digital transformation journey/roadmap specific to their
business. Thereby first solving the key business priorities. Unlike large
enterprises, SMEs have to implement the technology over a time period in a
At the start, they should go with easy
to use out of the shelf SaaS solutions where they can go live within weeks with
minimal efforts. The right technology strategy will help SMEs to reach more
potential customers and retain and grow existing customers, provide better and
unique service to customers, use customer demand to guide the business better,
streamline and improve operations and processes, reducing costs and maximizing
profits and use technology as a differentiator from other competitors.
· How can Start-ups maximize the benefits of
Arun Meena:According to IBM - An application-programming interface, or API,
enables companies to open up their applications’ data and functionality to
external third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments
within their companies. This allows services and products to communicate with
each other and leverage each other’s data and functionality through a
documented interface. Developers do not need to know how an API is implemented;
they simply use the interface to communicate with other products and services.
API use has surged over the past decade, to the degree that many of the most
popular web applications today would not be possible without APIs.
In case of start-ups API, enable them to have better collaboration,
faster innovations and added security thus enabling a faster time to market, which
is essential for valuation and sales. APIs also enable Start-ups to super
charge their product offering with features and conveniences that help lock in
customers while incurring minimal additional operation or even development
Uber is a splendid example of how start-ups can leverage APIs for
their business. In case of UBER navigation, messages, payments are API driven
without the need for their developers to develop these capabilities from ground-up.
Some examples of API integration that most start-up should look at
· Universal logins: This allows a quick login
by customers without the need to fill in lengthy information – thus enabling higher
customer retention and conversion.
· Third party payment processing: A quick way
to ecommerce enables your own website instead of relaying only on ecommerce marketplaces.
· Google Maps: Another quick method to enable
location-based product features
· Social media integration: Especially
important to create word of mouth about the company and product /service.
· How to secure SMB data in WFH?
Arun Meena:Work-From-Home now seems set to be a permanent feature of
workspaces; the format and degree will differ, but it will not be a non-option
for most organizations. Data and application access from outside the office premises
earlier limited to few individuals is now companywide and thus requires a
higher focus in security. In case of SMBs that are, already facing the pandemic
sales, impact this additional expense needs minimization. The best practices
for them amongst many are:
· Behavioral change: Most security breaches can be stopped by
ensuring password etiquette and being hyper vigilant about threats. Thus, a
strong passwords policy with regular changes along with avoidance of risky behavior
like opening unsolicited emails or non-regular websites will go a long way. The
staff needs to be trained about this aspect regularly.
· Securing employees’ home: Ensuring that the internet router
password and firewall settings at staff’s home are not set at default.
· Encryption of devices: This reduces the risk of data leakage in
case of device theft.
· Regular software update: Operating system and anti-virus software
needs to be updated regularly to guard against latest threats
· Enable two-factor authentication: This is a robust defense against
system and account hijacking and simple to implement.
· VPN usage: A virtual private network (VPN) makes the connection to
office resources over a public network into a private network thus providing
safety and security.
· AI as a Service can be a game-changer for SMBs.
Arun Meena:Cloud and SAAS have been a game changer for enterprises and SMBs
alike. They have packetized the costs and complexity of implementation and
created ubiquity of consumption enabling rapid innovation and scale. Now
Artificial Intelligence capability is becoming available under the same model
and the world can only wait in anticipation of the innovations that may be
unleashed. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are already helping businesses
around the globe create personalized, sales-maximizing experiences for
consumers. They are also helping organizations streamline their supply chain. In-fact
the supply chain is now getting integrated from the consumer to the supply
vendor like never-before and AI is the important glue that is helping the
system stay intact and at optimal capacity.
With SMBs no longer needing to build their own artificial
intelligence capabilities due to the availability of off-the-shelf AI as a
Service product they can compete with the largest players in their industry.
The inherent nimbleness of SMBs - that was being countered by expensive
capabilities of AI - once again becomes a competitive advantage.