Digital transformation is essential for businesses of any size to stay relevant and competitive in today’s market. Yet for a small business with a limited budget, it could sound like an intimidating undertaking.
However, you simply can’t ignore the benefits of using the right technologies in your business. It’ll help you improve efficiency, lower costs, increase productivity, improve customer experience, and ultimately, boost profits.
In fact, 42% of SMBs now consider digital transformation a core component of their organizational strategy. Digital leaders are doubling the performance of digital laggards.
Meanwhile, 82% of SMBs have already implemented some level of digital transformation in their organizations.
Whether you’re just getting started or want to fine-tune your digital transformation strategy, a well-designed implementation plan can help you get the most out of your investment.
6 Keys To Successfully Implementing Digital Transformation For Your Small Business
Digital transformation doesn’t need to be complicated in order to be effective. You can simplify implementation by focusing on initiatives that can yield the highest ROI. It’s also important to ensure that employees are aligned with objectives.
Here are six key areas to focus on:
1. Encourage Collaboration and Break Down Silos
Many digital transformation initiatives aim at improving operational efficiency across the entire company and/or creating a customer-centric organization. As such, breaking down silos and ensuring that internal departments can collaborate seamlessly is the key to success.
It’s important to involve all stakeholders across the organization so they can contribute to the initiatives. After all, digital transformation can’t be treated as an isolated IT project. Instead, it often requires a fundamental transformation of the business structure and its culture.
There are different ways to ensure the involvement of all internal departments in the effort. For example, the funding for a digital transformation initiative should not just come out of the IT budget. Business units that can benefit from the project should contribute as well.
Let’s say an eCommerce website is delivering a poor user experience that’s impacting sales. Marketing and sales departments benefit directly from a better eCommerce experience. They should also be responsible for part of the budget and be involved with the development of the website.
2. Empower Employees With Data
Data is the key to driving accurate business decisions. You need to focus on using technologies that allow your team to extract value and insights from various datasets. Employees can use the insights productively to drive growth.
Accurate insights can help you better understand what customers, partners, and employees want and need so that you can design the most relevant products and processes to improve efficiency and increase sales.
However, as datasets are getting larger and more complex, it’s also more challenging for small businesses to use them effectively. Thankfully, you can leverage a variety of affordable data collection and processing tools. They extract insights from data and share analytics across the company to aid real-time decision-making.
In addition, AI-driven technologies, such as machine learning, will be used widely for processing and analyzing a large amount of data. Investing in these tools strategically can help you make effective data-driven business decisions.
3. Ensure Seamless Integration of Business Systems
Most digital transformation initiatives aim to streamline operations, automate workflows, increasing efficiency, and improve the customer experience. It’s important that all your business systems are communicating with each other seamlessly.
When you connect business applications (e.g., finance, eCommerce, customer service,) you turn them into interoperable platforms. It allows you to break down internal silos, enhance collaboration across departments, and build a customer-centric organization.
Cloud computing is making it much easier for small businesses to integrate various software applications. That means it’s easier to streamline workflow and manage different business functions seamlessly.
For example, the ability to sync data between two platforms eliminates manual information transfer. In turn, that lets you increase efficiency and minimize errors.
4. Involve Every Level Of the Organization
A successful digital transformation requires a strong foundation by creating the right culture in the company. A strong vision translated into a clear set of digital initiatives helps rally employees around them.
Getting employee buy-in requires a coordinated effort at all levels, including alignment at the top, agility in the middle, and mobilization at the front line.
It’s also important to address your employees’ concerns since many people feel threatened by the introduction of technology and automation. In fact, 27% of SMB owners cited their team’s resistance to change as a top challenge when implementing digital transformation.
To get internal buy-in, educate your employees on the benefits of digital transformation. For example, demonstrate how an online tool can help them increase their productivity. In addition, provide the necessary training to your team. They’ll feel empowered to use the technologies effectively to achieve their career goals.
5. Seek Out Technology Partners With SMB Experience
As a small business, you probably don’t have the budget to hire a large IT team. Instead, you can outsource most of your IT tasks to maximize your resources. It lets you focus budget on areas that have the greatest impact.
In addition, SMBs have unique challenges and need a different IT strategy than larger organizations. Look for technology partners, vendors, and consultants that have extensive experience working with small businesses.
A service provider should recommend in-budget solutions that are compatible with your existing IT infrastructure. They should help you identify areas that can generate the highest ROI. It should also provide the necessary on-boarding and training so your employees can use the technologies most productively.
The most game-changing technology doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Be wary of vendors that push for costly solutions without demonstrating how they can help meet your specific business objectives.
6. Don’t Fall Prey To the “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome”
It’s tempting to implement every new technology that promises the moon. The reality is that the wrong choice will use up your IT budget without much to show for.
Before deciding on which digital initiatives to implement, get clear on your vision and business objectives. Identify areas that will yield the most meaningful results. In an earlier article, we discussed the key areas on which small businesses should focus: customer experience, employee engagement, data analytics, business processes, and cloud computing.
Many small businesses can get the highest ROI by using simple technologies to streamline tedious and repetitive manual tasks. In fact, complex technologies designed for larger organizations could even create more confusion and negatively impact productivity.
As such, focus on how digital transformation can make existing processes cheaper and easier. Simple tools with high impact are ideal for small businesses. For example, predictive analytics software that optimizes online ad spend can stretch your ad dollars, generate high-quality leads, and increase your sales without the need to overhaul key processes in your organization.
Starting a digital transformation initiative could be rather overwhelming. With careful planning, prioritization, partnership, and employee education, you too can leverage the power of technology. It’ll increase efficiency, lower costs, improve the customer experience, and grow your business cost-effectively.
It’s important to align your digital transformation strategy with your company’s vision by establishing KPIs that reflect your business objectives. You can then track metrics that matter and fine-tune your strategies to maximize ROI.