Digital transformation is a buzz word that can be overwhelming for small businesses. Priyanka Agrawal of Fractal Ink Design Studio – Linked by Isobar unravels.
‘Digital transformation’ is a catchall term that encompasses a wide range of activities often baffling the small or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on where to begin. For many SMBs, the thought might seem a little daunting but by developing a roadmap to adapt the key trends, they can accelerate growth, optimize operations and create value throughout the organisation.
It is not an ‘all-or-nothing’ shot. The key is to tackle the most important initiatives they believe are critical and having a clear roadmap to target the rest ‘within reasonable budgets’ in a multi-year plan. The idea is not to shift from paper processes to directly hyper-advanced complex digitized alternatives. It is a steady journey with multiple challenges that are unique to the size and nature of the business.
Gain operational efficiency
While clinging on to the old ways of doing things might be tempting, more often than not they are highly manual, paper-based and labour intensive. These sub-optimal workflows lead to lost insights and cause sub-optimal efficiencies in the workforce.
Employee resistance is the biggest challenge for SMBs for digital adoption. Talking to employees based on facts and data and giving them visibility on the potential red-flags for the business, such as waning customer referrals, that make the shift essential. Show them how the newer technologies would make their jobs easier and not redundant. Collaboration is the key. Take their inputs early on to get them on board. The more buy-in you get the better overall outcome in the end.
In today’s digital age, companies are thinking of new ways to be more efficient, deliver quality service and products to their customers at most cost-efficient pricing. As customers’ are getting more informed, aware and connected, there is a rise in expectation for more personalised and customised service. To meet these expectations there need to be efficiencies brought into the supply chain management. There needs to be agility and multi-party orchestration in business operations.
- Digital technologies play a pivotal role in employee engagement and productivity improvements.
- SMBs also thrive on strong partnerships, hence building digital processes they can stay ahead of the curve and make themselves more available for their partner network.
- Internal processes become more flexible and efficient with scalability to grow as the business grows
- Over time it helps in time and resources gains, strengthened partnerships and happy end customers.
Adopt ubiquitous Technology
Digital transformation is normally perceived as a costly task because it requires a significant upfront investment. In the short term, it can negatively affect the efficiency of your business and since there is no cookie-cutter approach to digital transformation, it means budgeting for the unknown.
Today, easy to use cloud-based mobile applications are enabling SMBs to achieve their goals without integration, coding or employee rebellion headaches. Several SaaS platforms that boost productivity, have powerful reporting capabilities, standardised process for collecting and sharing information across the company. The applications and their use cases are infinite.
Careful planning of maximising your resource pool and outsourcing the rest and only paying for the aspects of digital transformation with the greatest impact. A good technology partner can recommend in-budget solutions that are compatible with your current infrastructure.
Concentrating on the ‘building block’ technologies at the base of the pyramid is an essential foundation of digital transformation.
Make informed decisions using data-driven insights
Integrating the right technology for the business needs extensive planning and discipline, but reaps profound and continuing results as well. Effective data collections and intelligent analytics can bring out invaluable insights about where the business is doing well and what needs improvement.
Digital transformation efforts generally create high-value product data. The quantity of data collected rises exponentially and so does its granularity and complexity. This brings new challenges on how to leverage this data effectively. Focussing on the data you need to understand your customers, employees and to adapt technologies that will help answer their needs and improve their productivity.
The descriptive, prescriptive, predictive and proactive data and analytics can be instrumental in providing the artificial intelligence layer that is needed for SMBs to not only compete with the larger enterprises but be able to disrupt them as well.
Compete with larger enterprises effectively
Leveraging technology as a way to improve business workflow does not have to be complex, multimillion-dollar investment and year-long implementation cycles. These are the resources small businesses just don’t have. But what they do have is speed and agility to make decisions and move forward, a mindset large corporations often find difficult to adopt.
This means you can streamline your business processes, boost your customer service, improve your partnerships and enhance employee productivity by smart tech deployed in a cost-effective with faster turn-around times. Large enterprises often get caught up in large investments, corporate hierarchy and organically adopted digital systems that do integrate well with each other. They need to clean up before they begin and struggle with what can be leveraged from the past, what new needs to be built and how these systems talk to each other. This gives leverage to the SMBs to swiftly adopt the low entry barrier technologies.
Digital transformation is an ongoing and iterative process. The work is never complete. There’s always the next step to take. There is no reason for the SMBs to sit on the fence but to compete in this fast-changing, volatile global landscape.
This piece is authored by Priyanka Agrawal, Co-Founder, COO, Chief Strategy Officer – Fractal Ink Design Studio – Linked by Isobar.