Why Digital Transformation is Essential for Small Business in 2020
With 2020 turning out to be one of the most turbulent years in recent history, more and more experts are recognizing that digital transformation for business is no longer optional.
Just a few months back, it may have seemed like companies still had plenty of time to implement digital strategies and technologies into their workflow. But today, with traditional communications and marketing channels virtually eliminated, only businesses with digital assets and frameworks can hope to survive and prosper.
But even though more businesses are now aware of the urgency to bring their operations into the digital age of technology, figuring out the right approach and adopting the best practices can be a challenge.
The silver lining is that the unavoidability of the current situation also makes this the perfect opportunity to make digital transformation a top priority and come out on the other side better and stronger than before.
So, to help you get started, let’s explore what digital transformation is, how to get started, and what it can offer your small business.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is not the easiest term to define because it can look very different for companies operating in various industries. However, even if we can’t talk about specific steps without looking at each individual situation, we can at least look at the primary purpose that the process tries to achieve.
And, in essence, that process revolves around the implementation of digital technology and tools that can help make business operations more efficient, as well as provide a better overall experience to the customers.
The word transformation is also fitting because the implementation steps that are often required can be quite drastic and end up completely changing how a company operates for the better.
In fact, in many instances, digital transformation consultants can instil new values into the company culture, changing the approach to technology and innovation from a cautious to a daring one.
After the initial digital transformation is complete, companies often see tremendous growth and make a conscious effort to adopt the newest technology that becomes available in the future to maintain its edge over the competition.
So, while the initial steps can cause disruptions and force people to change not only their habits but even their ways of thinking, the rewards for the effort can be just as impactful.
How to Approach Digital Transformation
More than a third of companies in the U.S. have already gone through a digital transformation, with another 31% planning for it in the coming year.
However, even though it’s clear that beginning the process is vital to remain competitive, many businesses are hesitant about committing to the effort, and the primary reason behind it is the lack of a clear understanding of where to get started.
So, break down this complicated process into easier-to-understand parts, let’s look at it in terms of four key areas that digital transformation typically encompasses.
First off, you must identify your objectives, looking for areas that need to be improved to achieve your business goals. Although most tend to focus on the customer experience side of the equation, you may find that other aspects of your digital transformation, such as the company culture, are just as important.
Some of the common goals that you should consider include improving the digital customer experiences, simplifying management processes, developing more data-driven decision-making practices, and identifying ways to run the business more effectively using the available technology and tools.
Once you have a better understanding of what you’d like to improve, you can look at some of the available technological solutions, which can help enhance your business performance in various areas.
Some of the pillar areas that you should always look at first are your social media presence, a mobile-first approach, analytics and data, and the cloud.
However, these are now widely known and are likely already implemented in your business to some extent, so it’s essential to explore some of the more current opportunities such as intelligent transformation and AI.
Once you implement the technologies and processes into your business, you must create practices for ensuring that your digital products and services, as well as your overall business ecosystem, keep growing as you move forward.
Whether it’s the development of new products, evaluating performance, or executing new digital transformation plans, you must make sure that your efforts remain in-line with the latest developments in your industry, which will likely require you to seek out help from digital transformation specialists.
Why Digital Transformation is Important
Now that we’ve looked at what digital transformation is and explored the necessary steps of the process, we need to answer the central question: why is it worth pursuing?
Well, there are actually quite a few reasons that make it not only important but critical for the survival of your business, at least in the long term.
For one thing, once you implement the steps of digital transformation, you will be able to make more informed decisions in all areas of your business, gaining valuable insights from data and optimizing various aspects of your operations.
You will also gain a much deeper understanding of your audience, which will help you adopt a more customer-centric approach, maximizing the potential of your marketing budget and developing products that are more relevant and in-line with what your customers expect.
As you implement the digital solutions for running a business, you will also make life easier for your employees, helping them spend less time on repetitive manual tasks such as retrieving or entering data, and more time on productive tasks such as developing new ideas or providing better experiences for your customers.
With employee management tools, you can ensure that projects are handled more effectively and that teams are assembled logically and according to qualifications. Tracking tools will also help you figure out the employees that deserve rewards and other incentives for their efforts.
Since a big part of your day-to-day business operations can become digital, you will be better protected against unforeseen situations such as the coronavirus, allowing your company to fully function even if your employees can’t come to the office.
Implementing cloud security measures for data protection also means that you’ll be less susceptible to potential breaches and hacks, helping protect business data as well as sensitive customer information, which is vital for any business that wants to grow and maintain the trust of its audience.
Finally, since your employees will have a much easier time communicating, collaborating, and sharing data, that will create a more open environment where teams can solve problems quicker by asking for advice from more experienced peers or by consulting with outside specialists that are available remotely.