The digital era and the plethora of digital channels available have created so many opportunities for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). They have more power than ever to achieve business success, should they decide to integrate technology into their business model.
The various channels, whether free or paid, can have a huge positive impact on SMEs if utilised, as consumers are becoming more tech savvy and expect them to meet their demands and do business in a way that is convenient for them. Companies can no longer just exist on doing business the way they did it before. Old methodologies need to be reinvented to meet these demands and the new tools available, used.
So as to deliver true value to its consumers, a company needs to make a fundamental change in how it operates. For digital transformation to take place, digital technologies need to be integrated into the entire business. The company needs to look at everything it does, from what it sells, to its target market right down to how it delivers its product to its market. It needs to determine which technologies would work well in each section of the business and how to integrate it into the operation and then to actually do so.
In addition, to create a truly successful transformation, the entrepreneur needs to be critical as to how their digital initiatives will affect their consumers, and indeed their employees’ experience. It needs to challenge its status quo and experiment often. This cultural shift will ensure that the company does not rest on its laurels and is a great way for it to keep abreast of what is happening with their competition and consumers as well as what is out there with regard to new business opportunities and opportunities for growth.
Never before, thanks to technology, has it been as easy to identify new opportunities, nor distribute messages about the company and its products, research its consumers and obtain demographics as well as connect with its consumers as it is now. But, at the same time, the digital space is a specialised environment that requires knowledge of the processe’s and how best to cut through the incredibly fast-paced ‘internet noise’ to successfully reach the consumer and convert them into a follower and buyer.
As technology has created a huge opportunity for SMEs, it has also done so for consumers. They are, at a click of a button, able to access information on what they are looking for. They also share their experiences online with each other, whether good or bad. The loyalty factor has, for the most part, vanished as the consumer looks for bargains and businesses that offer them the services they require at the most convenient way possible.
For a company to successfully catch the eye of the consumer, they need to bring the brand to life by utilising technology wisely. There are so many consumer touch points now, and each needs to be scrutinised to ensure that it meets not only the businesses’ marketing needs but the consumer’s needs too.
The business needs to implement processes to quickly identify what is working and what is not so that it can change its focus and investment from those that are not performing well to those activities that are doing well. A small business does not have the time or the funds to spend too much time on activities that are not producing a return on investment.
To be able to do all of this, it is important that the company also transforms its idea of marketing. Marketers in this day and age need to be more consumer-centric than ever and must have the freedom to adjust tactics very quickly. The digital world is an immediate one, and changes and responses need to be handled in minutes and hours, not weeks or months. The marketer should be able to identify any gaps in reaching the company’s audience and use the right technology to fill that gap. The marketer must know how to craft the message correctly for the audience that uses that specific tool.
I’m fairly sure that these marketing requirements, if not technology as a whole, may seem daunting for a small business or entrepreneur that has limited resources. Luckily there are specialists, such as myself out there, available to assist SMEs in this regard. The entrepreneur should also attend conferences and workshops which aim to educate and assist them in learning about the digital world and where their businesses fit in, educate them on the various tools available online as well as delve into the forecasts for digital technology.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION is not something that you implement once and forget about. It is so dynamic that a company must look at its business strategy continuously. The strategy must be proactive and include steps on how to reinvent its digital reach to keep up with the forecast technological advances.
To sum it up, the most important things an entrepreneur should focus on when considering transformation is:
- To enhance the consumer experience by taking control, as much as possible, of their consumer’s interactions with the company through their Omnichannel experience;
- To critically look at your business and your consumer’s digital journey so that you assess whether you are delivering a frictionless encounter;
- To ensure that all your applications, whether a website, marketing or eCommerce platform, are updated and meets your consumer’s demands. But what’s even more important is that the underlying processes that govern change are continuously improved. This will ensure that any future updates to digital products can be done quickly and efficiently;
- To invest in people who have digital skills as well as up-skill yourself;
- To have a digital-first attitude from the top down. Transformation must be important from the CEO of the business right down to each staff member.
- To continuously track and monitor digital progress through metrics and KPIs.
I have no doubt that if entrepreneurs integrate and transform their business models to include digital technology, they would have the ability to grow their businesses exponentially. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION has made services which, in the ‘old’ days would have been extremely expensive and out of the reach of most entrepreneurs, available at a fraction of what it would have cost. It is for this reason, as well as the dynamic and exciting nature of technology that makes me so passionate about what I do.