Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) are always under constant pressure to adapt and grow if they are to continue operating. The fact that technology has become a vital enabler in the business world, and that it is constantly evolving, has also made it critical that SMBs continue to transform the way they use it. If done correctly, this digital transformation can lead to a more prosperous, long-termed existence.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation in a business is defined as the process of adopting and integrating technology into as many processes as possible. A successful digital transformation aims to modernize, or even revolutionize, the way a business operates and provides service to its clients.
Apart from the technological aspect, there is also a human factor that is addressed with a business’ digital transformation. Research has shown that employees have a hard time accepting technology for reasons that range from fear of the technology itself to fear of losing their jobs to automation. For a digital transformation to be successful, all employees must be on board.
This is an important point as it is these same employees who will be the source of feedback on the transformation. Unless they are fully committed to the change, it will be hard to get any earnest feedback from them – especially positive ones. This will hurt the transformation’s correction and tweaking stage which is required to make sure the change is a perfect fit.
Why do SMBs need digital transformation?
SMBs need to implement digital transformations if they want to grow into the next level of their business milestone. It would be quite difficult to stay competitive without the help of technology. Improving their digital footprint would help businesses move ahead by addressing issues on three fronts:
- The people – both employees and the customers they serve
- The process – they might need to be redrawn or even scratched once the new technology comes into play
- The business model – the whole business might need to also be redesigned as more traditional products, and the ways of creating them, become obsolete
When we take these three fronts into consideration it becomes clear that SMBs need digital transformation to improve their business processes, create a better product, and make everyone involved (employees and customers alike) happy with the whole setup.
What can be done with digital transformation?
A business that implements a digital transformation plan can expect changes in various aspects, including:
Use of new technology
New applications, software, and hardware technologies will play an important role in moving the business further into the digital age. All processes that can be replaced with technology will become more efficient. The employees that create them will be able to work with more efficiency and the end result (be it a product or service) will be of better quality which will, in turn, make their consumers happy.
The business’ management will have a clearer picture of the workings they oversee. With real-time reports feeding them accurate and up-to-date information, they will be able to make better-informed decisions. Forecasting applications will also help them create sustainable plans for the future.
Build a competitive edge
With the transformation into technology achieved, a small business will be able to compete on a more level ground with similar or even bigger companies. Technology is always an enabler that can help a business achieve its plans to become a bigger player in its market of choice.
Global brand expansion
A business that wholly accepts technology can expect to reach a broader market. With the help of features like the Internet, social media platforms, and online marketing strategies, the scope of its brand’s reach can grow to encompass the whole planet. Markets and customers that had not been accessible will now be open to them.
An increase in profits
The bottom line and the end result, of all the points made above, will be that once the digital transformation has been made, a business can now expect a larger profit. The streamlined business and its ability to compete favorably, and reach out to new global markets, will all contribute towards its financial success.
Are there any disadvantages to digital transformation?
As great as the idea behind digital transformation is, it isn’t one without its own set of drawbacks. The first obstacle that will need to be overcome is the fear that the changes will cut jobs. Employees will feel threatened by the fact that jobs like data analysis can now be done without their intervention. Others might find it quite daunting to adapt to working with new technologies – especially the senior staff who have known nothing but the old way of doing things.
And then, there is the matter of costs. The new technology, the planning, and the implementation will cost money. An SMB that doesn’t have a big budget could find it a bit difficult to implement the changes. Convincing the management that the money invested in the digital transformation today will be worth it could also prove to be a difficult task.
Finally, loss of data (and privacy) could occur – especially at the initial stages – as a business learns to secure its new software and hardware. But, that can always be minimized with the help of a professional.
On a closing note, it is quite clear that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. A business will always win with a smooth digital transformation.