A study on small and medium enterprises and their usage of internet to promote and do business.
Statement about the Opportunity
The GCC, particularly the UAE is a hotbed of entrepreneurism, especially in the Small and Medium enterprise sector. It has also witnessed massive growth in usage and adoption of the internet. In the last 8 years, there has been explosive growth of 1296.2 % (1) in internet penetration in the region, with UAE showing 50% growth (2) in with broadband connections in the last year.
In more mature internet economies such as the United States and Europe, most businesses have started using online ads and techniques such as SEO, SEM to get the attention of their target market.
The various internet adverting options also mark a paradigm shift in the way that they can be measured. Unlike traditional modes of advertising, internet advertising and marketing can be measured. Here, there is clarity on returns on advertising, with respect to the number of hits or clicks, and whole slew of other analytic metrics.
When we put both these factors together, we see the enormous potential for small and medium businesses to go online.
This growth is also supported and supplemented by proactive e-governance strategies in the region. Many chambers of commerce, and licensing authorities like the Dubai Economic Development department, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Ras Al Khamiah Free Zone authority, JAFZA have all led the way in creating online communities for their members.
However, has the businessman on the ground started understanding and leveraging the exponential power of the internet to grow his business?
This is the question this project seeks to answer. Do the small and medium enterprise business owners understand the existence and dynamics of the internet?
Why is the particular topic chosen?
Currently working in the ecommerce segment in one of the regions most famous online marketplaces, I�ve witnessed
the way internet is redefining the very way we live, especially the way business is done.
As the recession deepens, and the internet penetration increases at an explosive rate in the Middle East, it is imperative that both customers and marketers make the much necessary shift to the internet to promote and sell their wares. Moreover, the economic situation has forced businesses to look at more efficient ways to reach and acquire customers. We could be possibly, at a historic point in the GCC economies with regard to way businesses leverage the internet. Infact we are possibly looking at a tipping point of small and medium businesses transitioning to the internet.
This is what motivates me to choose this topic for my MBA marketing project.
Objective and scope of the project:
The objective of the study is to understand the scale at which small and medium businesses are going online and spending online to acquire new customers and retain existing ones.
The study aims to get a feel of the awareness and usage of internet among small and medium business with the GCC with special focus on the UAE.
For this study, I will be gathering information through primary sources. The research tool used for gathering the data will be surveys. I will be doing a sample survey using online questionnaire to get the data on the trends in using internet for business.
The software used will be either question pro or survey monkey to gather these responses.
The sample chosen will be a representative sample of the universe, i.e. small and medium enterprises in the GCC.
The questionnaire will contain questions ranging from use of computers, having company websites to online advertising awareness and usage. Once the responses are collected, they will be analyzed and the findings published.
What contribution would the project make?
This study would be the first of its kind, especially in the UAE about the extent to which small and medium enterprises are using the internet medium to do business. This would serve as an indicator to the scope of usage and potential for online publishers, advertising enablers, and online experts in the region.
Guide's Resume and his willingness to guide.
Mr Rajesh Thomas is a serial entrepreneur, having started many small companies such as Roots Research, Holiday Companion, with wide experience in market research, travel and tourism, and pioneering online community portals such as Fundook.com. His current passion is DubaiSavers.com, an online bargain hunting site.
He too, is very passionate about the internet and possibilities it offers to change businesses and economies.