Digital Transformation: What’s in it for SMEs?

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on 12/04/2022 10:00:00 AM

The very ethos of digital transformation is to adopt new technologies to rethink and create innovative approaches to solving common issues within your business – and modernise outdated ways of working for a slicker and more productive organisation. 

Digital Transformation What’s in it for SMEs

There’s a myth that digital transformation (DT) should be left to enterprise companies. After all, the larger the organisation, the more applicable it is? Not necessarily, because sales, human resources, and customer service are three of the most common functions where DT can make a real difference and these are critical areas for all businesses and as DT improves business efficiency and sparks innovation, SMEs have a lot to gain.  

If you can save 20 hours a week of administration time by automating your payroll or invoicing, would that not be a technology worth investing in? If you could drop the time inventory sits on warehouse shelves by half – by having better data and forecasting, or have customers' technical questions answered within one working day by connecting the sales team directly with your tech teams messaging system, would that not give you a leg-up on customer preference?  

DT’s magic lies in the fact that it improves an organisation’s internal ability to get things done and is outwardly customer facing. Whether you’re a plumber, a commercial bakery, sell agricultural machinery or are an engineering firm, your customers will not only expect to be able to make an enquiry through your website, they also want to purchase with digital currency and see your socially responsible behaviour via your social media channels, while also receiving personalised offers and messaging.  

The three main branches of DT can be thought of as Operational Priorities, Consumer Focused Priorities and Value Addition Priorities. 

Operational Priorities

At the centre of operational priorities sits an effective customer relationship management system, or CRM. This is the place to stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability – a single point of truth for a business’s data and key for making informed company-wide strategic decisions.  

Enterprise resource planning (ERP System) is the ability to deliver an integrated suite of business applications, allowing for automation across finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing and more.  

When the business is small, simply picking up the phone or a text message may be all you need in terms of internal communications. As the business grows, team collaboration and messaging tools become more important. Think Microsoft Team or Trello. 

Consumer Focused Priorities 

The most important customer-facing priority for digital presence is, of course, your website. It’s your primary means of frontline customer service and communications. Low-cost platforms like WordPress and Wix have made accessibility and implementation so easy. 

Digital Marketing is interesting because consumers now drive so many digital transformation initiatives. The main example is the move of interaction to social media – not only among individuals, but now also increasingly with consumers to business communication – advertising being the obvious example. Digital marketing is necessary and expected in today’s world.  

Value Addition Priorities 

Automation around reminders, easy scheduling for things like necessary maintenance, and personalising these communications is central to building customer relationships and is an area where DT excels. Making a customer feel special can go a long way in elevating their continued experience with your business, potentially reducing cost per acquisition, and increasing lifetime value of sales. 

Some digital transformation ideas may not be a necessity but, thanks to innovation, can still be an amazing opportunity to create more space between you and the competition for customer consideration. Examples of this kind of innovation include ‘augmented reality’ for fashion where a user can see what an item of clothing look like on them before purchasing, or even a bonus fitness tracker app with a running shoe purchase.  

The adage states that if you are evolving, then you’re falling behind, so why are just ‘8% of global companies… able to achieve their targeted business outcomes from their investments in digital technology.’  

Innovating for the sake of innovation, trying to improve what’s already working well, and not having the right people in place are common challenges. In short, the strategy may be wrong.  

With many owners struggling to know where to start and get a grip on the hard questions about how DT affects their business, our new programme will help you get the answers.  

Develop world-class DT strategies and find out what it can mean for your business through The Icehouse’s new online programme on Digital Transformation. Open for enrolment now!

For information on how The Icehouse programmes, workshops and coaching and advisory services can help your business, click here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our blogs.

Icehouse Alumni? For exclusive content on Icehouse Central, register now.

Topics: digital transformation