What is Digital Transformation? And, what does it mean for SMEs?
Working efficiently is fundamental to managing a prosperous business. Nonetheless, ensuring all processes are operating as efficiently as possible is frequently easier said than done, particularly if business leaders have to manage masses of paperwork and numerous company operations, simultaneously. So, what is the resolution to higher efficiency? ‘Digital Transformation’ is a possible solution. But what does the phrase mean and why should SMEs be taking advantage?
When we look at what digital transformation, we're referring to the method of changing and modernising business processes to include digital strategies and technology into the company infrastructure. This could be bringing in new devices to enable remote workers, developing a mobile application to improve communication internally or going paperless and adopting enterprise content management solutions.
In order to remain competitive in the current business climate, companies can ill afford to ignore the digital revolution that is happening. This means companies of all sizes are now exploring digital transformation and looking for ways to utilise the available technologies to become more efficient and reduce overheads.
With that being said, the idea of adapting to the consistently evolving digital marketplace is an unnerving task for many SMEs. So, what is the starting point, and what can your business expect to gain from it?
Why SMEs should be moving digital?
The advantages for SMEs to implement new and developing technologies are immense. Moving to digital systems opens new opportunities to compete with larger competitors. A task that is deemed difficult, or even impracticable for smaller enterprises due to restrictions on resources, budget and time could be manageable.
SAP has found that nearly half of all decision makers (46%) believe technology levels the balances the market against major players. Nearly two-fifths (37%) cite that their size as a competitive advantage over larger companies that are less able to implement digital innovation in a timely manner. Additionally, SMEs also experience elevated efficiency and accuracy, reduced overheads, and more workforce productivity by getting on board with digital transformation.
Enhanced staff satisfaction through implementation of automation
Automating tasks that are time-consuming, potentially through the integration of Artificial Intelligence, can help staff to focus their attention on more important tasks that will either bring in revenue or reduce running costs. By implementing automation it would help to boost staff morale as they won't be overloaded with repetitive tasks, such as searching through files. Instead, staff can utilise an AI virtual assistant that could help source the document they require or set up meetings on their behalf.
Reduced waste, improved savings and workplace efficiency
By moving from traditional paper-based methods of data capture to digital can contribute to reduced costs, wastage and time-saving. SMEs will benefit from quicker processes and fewer errors in capturing data, which in turn will equate to greater efficiency and accuracy. Implementing these methods, the chances of losing paperwork or illegible handwriting that makes it impossible to understand what has been noted has become an archaic process. Additionally, with mobile data solutions, information can be quickly entered into systems and then distributed throughout the business, helping to improve communication and collaboration across multiple teams, and at the same time, it will save time.
How do SMEs get involved with digital transformation?
It is fundamental to understand that technology can only add benefits if it is used correctly and it is suited to the functionality of the business. Technology will add no value if it is brought in just for the sake of it. Furthermore, correct training will need to be conducted so staff to utilise it. It doesn't matter if the technology is the best in the market if they aren't using it correctly, it's likely to increase costs and mean more mistakes are made.
Consequently, a defined strategy needs to be in place before a company embarks on digital transformation. What the key objectives are and how will the technology will support meeting them? What do employees feel about the new systems and devices?
It is also crucial to think about scalability. Over the next period of time, the business will undergo numerous changes. Will the technology that is implemented now still be right for the company in the not too distant future? Careful planning and forethought are required, new technology can always be added later. Technology is constantly evolving and being developed and new technologies are entering the market, so SMEs need to continually think about the future. The next 'big thing' is always around the corner, so to stay ahead of the curve SMEs need to be thinking about their goals and how they can improve their processes.
Digital transformation holds lots of value when looking to remain competitive, especially for SMEs who are looking to compete with larger entities. Businesses that are laggards when it comes to adoption of technology and digital strategies will struggle to grow as fast as their competitors. With the digital market landscape rapidly changing, there is no time like the present to implement new technologies to reap the benefits.