It’s safe to say that digital transformation is one of the buzzwords of the year. It sounds complex, but the premise is quite simple: using technology to automate processes and deliver better information. The process doesn’t disappear; it’s just done electronically rather than manually.
Digital transformation offers a lot of advantages for businesses – especially this year when nearly the whole world went online. But digitising isn’t always easy, particularly for smaller and mid-sized businesses.
Although not opposed to adopting tech, small businesses are often disadvantaged by a lack of internal knowledge, IT literacy and resources to go digital.
But while it sounds (and certainly can feel) like a burden, digitisation doesn’t need to be a huge (or a bank-breaking) task. Now facing a do-or-die situation when it comes to keeping up with competition, customer expectations and market changes, here’s how smaller businesses can tackle digital transformation and start reaping the benefits.
First: what’s COVID got to do with it?
Digital transformation is something that has been evolving for decades, if not longer. (Remember your first mobile phone? Digital transformation.) We are in an ever-transforming digital world, so naturally, we need to make changes to keep up.
But COVID has interrupted this natural rhythm and brought forward many of the capabilities that businesses were preparing for in the future, making them necessary right this minute. And those who haven’t been able to adapt almost immediately are starting to experience a flow-on effect that’s impacting business performance. For example:
- If you can’t: establish a new route to market (optimised web presence and e-commerce), then you can’t:
- Service your existing customers in their new environment, which leads to:
- Losing customers to other business, which is compounded by:
- The inability to expand into new customer markets because you don’t have the tools or abilities to reach/service them.
COVID has been the ‘great equaliser’ and put nearly all businesses in the same boat. Even those who thought they didn’t need to transform have suddenly seen the light. But small and medium businesses have struggled particularly hard. Many haven’t had the resources to adapt quickly, with small business owners citing time and cost as their biggest hurdles to digital transformation.
A small business owner generally plays a lot of roles on top of owner or director. They have their fingers in a lot of pies, and they’re likely playing a big part in the sales of their service or product.
With only so many hours in the day, time spent researching, implementing and learning new software or systems is time away from running their business and making sales.
Even those who do use some of their limited time to research what they need face a roadblock when it comes to actually investing in digitisation. During their research, they’ve seen what’s possible, the best of the best. And it’s well out of their price range.
Any of this sound familiar?
So, you’re at the point where you’re convinced you need more time and money to get to where you need to go. But what most people fail to realise is that digital transformation is the tool that will provide you with these resources.
You don’t need more time and money to achieve digital transformation – digital transformation will create more time and money.
How? Well, at any time (but especially now), you need to know how much cash is flowing through your business, including:
- Number and value of sales;
- How much working capital you’re sitting on;
- If there are any halts to cash flow, bills not being paid or outstanding debts; and
- How this affects business capital and investments.
You also need the time to collect, manage and analyse this data and know how it’s affecting your business position.
Through digital transformation (i.e. the right systems and technology) you’ll be able to access and manage this information automatically, leaving you with all the time you need to focus on other areas.
Having this data will allow you to make better business decisions, put yourself in a better financial position and help grow your business, your sales and the amount of cash you have flowing through.
The time for digital transformation is now
There’s no escaping the facts – while we’re all hoping the worst of COVID is over, the need to adapt digitally isn’t going away. If you don’t want to fall behind, an investment in digital transformation needs to happen now.
But just because you’ve been somewhat forced into this investment, it doesn’t mean you have to settle.
Your industry isn’t the only one that’s changing. Those creating and providing the digital tools and systems you’re looking to implement are realising that their market is also widening. No longer are automation and big data just for big businesses – smaller businesses are demanding these capabilities, too. This puts you in a great position to ask for what you want and to have it delivered in a way that meets your needs and constraints.
When looking for a solution, be sure it is:
- Made for small businesses (or for businesses of your size)
- Customisable to your needs
- Within your budget/appropriately priced
- Flexible and changeable, so it supports you consistently as things continue to change.
And – while it’s common to believe that the best option is only available at the highest price – if you don’t ask, you can’t receive. Some of the world’s best and most impressive systems can be obtained for less than you think. If you don’t believe me, just look at SAP Business One.
Lastly, don’t forget that implementation is just as important as the software itself. It can have a massive impact on usability and the ROI you receive. Key Business Solutions offer a unique partnering experience, taking the time to learn your business and your needs and using this information to implement and customise digital solutions. To learn how we can help you, click here.