If you think of digital transformation as something reserved only for the enterprise, think again. Now, it’s true that there are a number of ways large organizations can sink their teeth into digital initiatives, but it’s also true that customers are at the heart digital transformation. When we look at it that way, it’s clear there are major opportunities for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) when it comes to embracing digital transformation—let’s explore six of them.
- Explore new technologies. SMBs are uniquely positioned to explore and leverage digital technologies in short order. Take cloud tools, for example—already time-strapped CEOs or owners of small companies can quickly opt-in to efficiency-boosting cloud or SaaS environments, automating processes and eliminating the need for these leaders to micromanage every part of running their businesses.
- Improve your customer’s experience. Gone are the days when consumers’ only interaction with companies included newspaper ads or 30 second television spots. In this digital age characterized by always-on, always-connected mobile devices, consumers have the control. Brands know that, too. In fact, a recent Accenture survey on digital transformation found that 63 percent of businesses plan to improve the ‘online customer experience’ in the coming year. Specific to SMBs, this is a great opportunity for companies already touting the personal advantage to further humanize their brands, starting with more responsive customer service interactions on places like social platforms.
- Thrive from rapid change. SMBs are incredibly dynamic, and so is the digital world. It’s never been more important to vet prospective approaches or tech tools before implementation, but it’s also never been easier for SMBs to maneuver through such rapid change. Things not working out with a cloud vendor? Audience not responding to a particular digital technology? Market take an unexpected swing? It’s because of their size that SMBs can take calculated risks and still change course if need be, shifting their digital transformation strategies quickly and often without losing too much ground.
- Be more competitive. Ask three people to define digital transformation, and you’re bound to get three different answers. I’d bet all of them would have a common theme, though: Digital transformation is a game-changer, and approaching it the right way not only makes SMBs more competitive—it’s also what keeps them relevant in this fast-paced, tech-filled culture. Using insight gleaned from data analytics, for example, can mean more targeted marketing initiatives, giving these proactive companies a leg up over their industry rivals. (Note that as an IDC analyst told Digitalist magazine, though, it’s not smart for SMBs to try to use tech to compete with large companies. Rather, it’s best to find a niche and excel within it.) How, though? My colleague, Shelly Kramer, recently wrote a round up of tools SMBs can use to track business competitors—and they’re all digital.)
- Move and innovate quickly. Whereas enterprise organizations can be chock-full of red tape and layers upon layers of stakeholders to convince, SMBs can make digital moves quickly and get out in front of trends—this leads to better, faster innovation.
- Boost the bottom line. Digital transformation makes sense for the SMB’s bottom line, and there’s data to prove it. Recently released research from IDC analyzed the digital initiatives of what they dubbed as small and midsize enterprises (SMEs)—i.e., companies with 10-999 employees. The SAP SE-sponsored report, Thriving in the Digital Economy, found that over half of fast-growing SMEs are actively engaged with digital transformation. Those that grew revenue in excess of 10 percent in the last year said they’d invested in digital transformation. As it turns out, it’s not just about growth, either—it’s also about sticking around. More than 39 percent of SMEs surveyed said, “active participation in the digital economy will be essential to our company’s survival in the next three to five years.” Survival? That’s pretty telling.
The IDC research I mentioned above found something else interesting: Many SME’s are currently dabbling in digital transformation without even realizing it. All those shared calendars, CRM programs, and analytics programs might just seem like business as usual, but they’re all incremental steps in the path toward immersive digital transformation—a path that takes time and resources, but one that is clearly worthwhile.
How has your organization approached digital transformation? Can you identify any additional opportunities for SMBs in particular? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
This post has been brought to you in part by SAP. All opinions are that of the Author. For more info on your small business digital transformation, visit here. http://bit.ly/2bU4T7X
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.