The Market is Learning III: Globe’s SME Online Portal

Just yesterday, Globe Telecom has launched an online portal dedicated to the SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) Segment.

The SME Online Portal aims to provide a one-stop resource and information center for SME’s. This site contains Globe’s list of products and services, already packaged and custom-fitted for the needs of the SME market, as well as tools, resource materials, and links which the Filipino entrepreneur can make fully use of. It also will periodically feature an SME success story to provide inspiration and sets of learning for the newly established ones and for those who are in the process of or thinking of putting up businesses of their own.

It’s not much as of the moment, but it’s a step in the right direction.

What we can hope for, in the near future, are further enhancements to this SME Online Portal. It would be good to have an interactive site, complete with a Discussion Forum where prospective and incumbent SME’s can ask questions and acquire tips and pieces of advice on how to operate and manage the slew of telco services that are tailor-fitted for the needs of the average Filipino entrepreneur. Or a site that can act as an Exchange or Market Place or Hub where different SME’s, buyers and sellers alike, can interact, communicate, and close deals using Globe’s products and services (ala One Town, One Product or OTOP of the Department of Trade and Industry). The portal can also have a GCash section and resource site (which is sorely missing in this portal… considering that GCash is now an accepted mode of payment among entrepreneurs) where the uninitiated can learn the intricacies of paying via their mobile phones.

The next big challenge, however, is how to make the majority of the SME’s to use this portal. It is quite an irony that such a website, built to serve those that are part of the 99.6% of the registered firms nationwide, can only be accessed by SME’s or entrepreneurs that already have a PC and internet access. For those without, the important question, then, is: how to access this online portal and use the resources and information contained therein in aiding the entrepreneur’s efforts to improve their respective businesses? Hence, the challenge boils down to being able to initially provide SME’s with an affordable means of acquiring: 1st, a PC or Laptop, and 2nd, an Internet connnection.

The Globe SME Online Portal should be after-the-abovementioned-fact. That is, it should not just be a static website containing the aforementioned resources and information, and must be more of a participative and interactive site where SME’s, already with the requisite PC and internet connection, can take advantage of what the site has to offer.

For any meaningful SME programs and initiatives launched by any of the major Telcos to take off, they must be able to first address the hurdle of providing those two very important tools mentioned above. Telcos can directly address the provision of affordable internet connectivity and services. The hardware (PC or Laptop) aspect, the Telcos have no direct control over.

Which brings us to an oft overlooked item which will help drive the demand for internet connectivity and help ensure heavy usage of such connectivity: the Software or Application that will aid in increasing the SME’s productivity and efficiency in conducting and managing their respective businesses.

As a suggestion, Globe, and for that matter, all the other Telcos, must FIRST partner with hardware vendors and software application providers and come up with a program that includes in the equation a hardware (that enables the connectivity to the net) and a software (that provides the productivity tool) in order to be able to truly succeed in the development of the SME market.

Again, the Globe SME Online Portal is not much, but it’s a start we can live with… for now.

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