In a bid to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) stay ahead of the curve with the right digital skills, Microsoft India has launched a skilling initiative by centralising all its relevant skill-building resources. Tailored specifically for the country’s SMBs, this effort builds on the global skills initiative that had helped close to three million people in India acquire digital skills during the pandemic.

SMBs are the backbone of the country’s economy, contributing approximately 30 per cent to India’s GDP and providing employment to over 114 million people. Digital tools are essential to helping SMBs respond to changes in the market, streamline their organisations, protect against threats and plan for long-term business resiliency. However, a lack of employee skills has been among the biggest challenges for SMBs in responding to the pandemic. With high customer expectations for digital literacy and a surge in connected digital experiences, SMBs need to continuously learn new ways to use technology for greater customer engagement, efficiency and agility.

As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, digital skills are fundamental to helping SMBs evaluate and implement the right digital tools, in the right way. By building their digital skills, SMBs raise their knowledge capital, including organisational processes and employee talent, putting them at a greater competitive advantage in a digitally enabled economy.

Commenting on the initiative, Harish Vellat, country head, Small, Medium and Corporate Business, Microsoft India, said, “SMBs have been at the forefront of our country’s economic rebuilding following the pandemic and are facing immense pressure to keep up with the dramatic shift in how we work and live. It is critical that they are equipped with the skills that can help them develop long-term strategies for their business and reimagine new paths for their success. By providing these skill-building resources, we are fulfilling our commitment to creating an inclusive economy and helping SMBs transform and thrive.”

Microsoft’s goal is to make it easier for small business owners to find what they need and when they need it. The flexible and accessible skill-building approach provides digital skilling resources via e-learning and online training assets from sources like Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning. Through the resource hub, businesses can explore proven expertise, technical training, online workshops, and best practices, as well as earn Microsoft certifications on technical learning paths. Aligning the resources to the top priorities of SMBs means they can start building skills focused on what matters most to their organisation:-

  • Connecting with customers and growing business – The right digital skills to use technology for customer relationship management (CRM), digital marketing, advertising and branding will help businesses better serve their customers and reach new audiences.
  • Keeping employees engaged and productive – Whether a business has only one employee or a large team, digital skills can help people stay collaborative and focused while engaging with meaningful projects.
  • Achieving greater efficiency to save time and resources – Because tech enables businesses to quickly address customers’ needs and streamline manual processes, businesses should learn how to use tools that work together to help them keep departments connected, lower overhead costs and maximise efficiency.
  • Increasing security in a digital world – By educating and skilling employees through best practices, businesses are better able to use the technology that can help them protect customers’ and employees’ data. In avoiding breaches, these businesses can avoid the associated high costs and reputation loss.
  • Flexing to meet market opportunities – As businesses become more digitally enabled and skilled, they can analyse available data, understand trends and move more quickly to embrace market opportunities.
  • Accelerating with lessons in entrepreneurship – By learning about foundational principles in finance, marketing, bootstrapping, selling, SMB owners can get a head-start on successful business operations.

Digital skills can play a vital role in helping businesses remain adaptable, resilient and innovative and foster a more inclusive future-ready labour market. Microsoft is committed to empowering SMBs in the country with the resources that can help them reimagine how to reach their goals today for a more profitable tomorrow.