(online) = ISSN 2285 – 3642
ISSN-L = 2285 – 3642
Journal of Economic Development, Environment and People
Volume 5, Issue 4, 2016
Web Platform for Romanian SMEs Networking
Radu Bucea-Manea-Tonis1, Rocsana Bucea-Manea-Tonis2
1SpiruHaret University &Politehnica University
Abstract.After the 90s, private initiative in Romania has tried to get market shares in the emerging niches: IT services, e-commerce, retail, energy. With the liberalization of the market after admission to the EU, local entrepreneurs could not cope with external competition, crushing in debts or insolvency. The situation is not different today when the local capital is strongly competed by multinational companies. After a continuous research process, the conclusion is that the only solution for the SMEs is collaboration in business hubs, virtual companies and other forms of local cooperation. In this article is presented a type of collaboration between SMEs using discount coupons to recommend each other clients.
Keywords:ICT, SMEs, discount, network business environment
ICT has a major impact in all the SMEs current activity. As a consequence, SMEs capacity of innovation depends on ICT. The innovation capability is the engine of new green products and services, of B2B and B2C communication and cooperation. There are a lot of complex and various factors that consolidate the premises of achieving innovation by SMEs, such as human resource and ICT impact on innovation.
[Idota, 2013] assert that ICT use promotes the innovation capability and external linkage. The innovation activity promotes the innovation. The innovation capability, external linkage and ICT use directly promote the innovation.
ICT offer the technical support for data analyzing and setting decisions, for internal and external communication, for networking and collaboration, saving time and money, overcoming geographical constrains and offering a platform for international e-markets.
Most ICT current facilities are offered by Cloud Computing, through Software as a Service paradigm, that seems to be dedicated for SMEs, strengthening the knowledge creation process.
Cloud Computing is a must have for SMEs business in our globalizing economy. The SMEs have to gather and share information, knowledge, technology and human resources in order to face the market requests. [Liebhart, 2015] “estimates 30 % improvements caused by efficient, flexible and networked IT”. In order to do that, SMEs should “bridge the gap between the business and IT domains”. The classical company image should change to dynamic model, centered on business process automation. Business parameters will be different from one domain to another, but the arity of any business relation should be the same to integrate efficiently different SMEs belonging to different legal systems, marketing regulations and domains. [Woitsch, 2016]
But the ICT is nothing without human resources. One of the most common categories of the economic operators in modern economy markets is the Entrepreneur, a flexible and creative person, with plenty of energy and self-confidence, who likes challenges and takes high risks to develop various projects, representing the materialization of his own vision. The entrepreneur oriented towards results, sets up new companies and drives them towards success, sometimes turning them into big companies or selling them to national or international agents. Entrepreneurs and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, SMEs, have a positive influence on macroeconomic indicators such as GDP growth, or decreasing the unemployment rate.
This assertion is reinforced by Jones, (2016). She demonstrated that human resource transfer has a significant positive effect on innovativeness, and innovativeness, in turn, is positively related to firm performance.
Furthermore, the literature reveals that there is a tridimensional relationship between knowledge management (KM) practices, technological innovation (TI) and competitive advantage (CA) [Voon-Hsien, 2016]. KM has a direct positive and significant relation with both TI and CA; while TI positively and significantly affects CA. Most outstandingly, the mediating role of TI that connects KM and CA has been proven to be positive and significant.
Empirical studies show that, in developed countries, the SMEs contribute to over 55% of GDP and over 65.8% of total employment (comparable with those of the EU - 27: 66.9%), which means that 2/3 of employees in Romania and the EU - 27 are operating in SMEs. [OECD2015]
The economic development can be stimulated by setting up new and innovative firms and rising the SMEs competitiveness and productivity rate, aiming to their integration into the global value trading chains and investment [OECD2015]. SMEs are very flexible to changing market and environment.
SMEs consider that the greatest obstacle they have to face is financing their business, due to lack of effective communication with banking and financial system. Another obstacle might be their incapacity to face the inflation and the bureaucracy retrieved in the number and the amount of taxes and regulation to be observed. Policy instability, corruption, street-organized crimes are also to be considered. It can be noticed that most of all these factors are external to the organizations and are influenced by the state policies. Similarly happens with the anti-competitive practices, with infrastructure and the legal issues. Most of these obstacles are much beyond the SMEs control. The SMEs can try to avoid some of them, by looking for alternative fund raising or by improving the IT infrastructure problems through associations in a digital network environment that might get the support of big companies, government, and of smart young people from world, in the online environment. SMEs are usually less organized, as a member of the Employers and Chamber of Commerce [Tonis, 2016] and SMEs are not associated in business cooperation networks and do not take the advantages of scale production.
In order to offer support for SMEs business, it had been conceptualized and developed a portal for Romanian SMEs that support the networking between SMEs. In this article it is described a discount system based on coupons that serve as reciprocal recommendations between SMEs, as a free method of publicity.
2. Case study – Discount Coupons Facility
It had been designed a web B2B portal where SMEs have their own presentation page, forum and possibility to manage a joint portfolio of clients by issuing nominal discount coupons.
This portal facilitates:
· online publishing - articles, free resources for audiovisual local business community;
· seminars and meetings with great impact, free, dedicated to developing entrepreneurship and leadership;
· online ordering platform for smesonline.eu partners’ products / services with discount;
· intensive series of training a day, two or three days in major cities;
· complex series of workshops and training programs with follow-up system
· active vacation, training and inspiration - full experience in business.
To become a member and benefit from customer recommendation system based on discount coupons, the SME have to access the page www.smesonline.eu, section About SMEs Online (Fig.1).
Accessing the hyperlink „Fill in the form” ①, SMEs can fill in a personal page for the company as a member of SMEs Online ① or view the demo page containing demo data ② (Fig.2).
Fig. 1: smesonline.eu – Romanian SMEs Network Business Environment
Fig. 2: smesonline.eu – Web form to be filled in as to become a member
Filling in the form fields described in the personalized web page① and executing click on the Submit button③, the SMEs can visualizes corresponding URL of the new web page created ③ (Fig.3).
Fig. 3: smesonline.eu – Access to personal page
Then accessing the corresponding link page URL hyperlink newly created or completed page ② is obtained the page template as in (Fig.4).
Fig. 4: smesonline.eu – Personal page
The options in the right panel of the page firm (from ① to ⑥) can only be accessed in a secure manner. The credentials are the email address and password. The password is provided by email@example.com, after filling in the form at the previous step. Now the SMEs has these options:
1. Update the company page using a form without filling in the CUI. The CUI cannot be updated if not addressing the administrator.
2. Issuing vouchers using the form in figure 5.
Fig.5: smesonline.eu - Issuing coupons
Note: The percentage reduction is recommended ①. It is not mandatory for the company that accept the coupon to apply the same discount! Name, surname and date of birth ② belong to the customer. They are required because not allow issuing more coupons on same name in for the same service
3. Issued coupons can be viewed within a report with search facilities for printing ①, for example(Fig.6):
Fig. 6: smesonline.eu – Report coupons
4. Coupons verification option allows viewing information associated with a coupon (such as issuing date, customer name and surname) by the issued ID coupon ①(Fig.7).
Fig. 7: smesonline.eu – Verify coupons
Note: Issued and validated coupons do not appear in search results, so they can not be validated at the next step ⑤. Results following information (Fig.8).
Fig. 8: smesonline.eu – Reports on verify coupons
5. Coupons validation involves applying a discount ① and changing the coupon status that will make it unusable a second time(Fig.9).
Fig.9: smesonline.eu – Coupons validation
6. Validated coupons can be viewed in a report ⑥(Fig.10).:
Fig. 10: smesonline.eu – Reports on validated coupons
For further details one can view the movie: http://www.smesonline.eu/movies/MYFILE.htm.
All the literature review shows that SMEs needs to collaborate within a network sharing resources and market niches. A business network facilitating real time communication, sharing information and software applications, attending online business training and workshops, or implementing actions for improvement the clients’ experience, becomes a strong community able to influence the business decisions outside the group itself. Being a group rather than an isolate company, the business network could apply for grants or other government funding.
4. Further research
A further research will focus on creating a cloud and available tools, in order to achieve this.
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 Tonis Rocsana (Bucea-Manea) PhD Thesis: Study and Developments on SMEs Support System, Politehnica University Bucharest, 2016
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 Woitsch,Robert, & Wilfrid Utz,. (2015). Model Based Business and IT Cloud Alignment as a Cloud Offering. Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.35579
 ***, OECD, Promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovative SMEs in a Global Economy, 2nd OECD Conference of Ministers Responsible for SMEs, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2004, http://www.oecd.org/cfe/smes/31919278.pdf (accessed on 20.07.2015).