Small and medium businesses (SMEs) are often caught between a rock and a tough place. How do you pursue digital adoption in times of uncertainty, where there is a dire need to consolidate cash flow and manage operating costs to ensure survival?
We cannot say that we have a foolproof way. Tranglo, as a fellow fintech player, forges a path from a long-term digital transformation plan. An arduous process, digital transformation comprises a few different phases of digital adoption, with varying degrees of success, before a company can achieve full integration.
These lessons have enabled us to present the following practical tips for SMEs to consider when preparing for a heavily digitised future beyond 2020.
Many of the inefficiencies associated with the digital platforms of today can be summed up in a sentence: digital initiatives are often conducted within organisational frameworks that are outdated or inefficient.
Moving forward, 21st-century technologies will meet 21st-century structures. To this end, organisations of the future must be more versatile in their structure. Operating models, business models and organisational frameworks will undergo major changes in the hope of becoming agile organisations, entities that can move swiftly across different models and structures.
Agile organisations must accept, embrace and apply digital adoption platforms, including components like cloud computing, remote working tools and automation software, to enhance the experience of their workforce and increase efficiency.
But internal benefits need to be complemented by external boons. Such organisations also need to adopt digital practices that help make the customers’ lives easier. Convenience, reliability, speed and flexibility are all crucial elements for the survival of any business in times of crisis.
Have a comprehensive plan
Business owners need to have a brainstorming session with their teams to discuss short- and long-term objectives, tactics and deployment plans for digital adoption.
List down the necessary digital infrastructure that your company is interested in adopting in the earlier phases. Ask yourselves the necessary questions. Would this be in the form of a POS system for inventory management or a cross-border payment solution for digital transactions? Would this be in the form of a cloud system to help with documentation and data integration in your office space?
List down the personal objectives necessary in terms of workforce mindset, company culture and skill sets. These plans and brainstorming sessions often vary from business to business, but the idea is to get the ball rolling.
The transformation process is just as much a mindset journey as an organisational one. Your people must be able to comprehend and execute strategies that you as a business owner have come up with. In order to advance into a phase of digital adoption, your workforce must be instilled with the core values and company culture of a brand that has a digital DNA.
Communication is key to developing better mindsets. Companies with senior executives who communicated with employees on a more consistent basis were 8 times more likely to achieve transformation success compared to executives who failed to practice consistent communication.
Apply digital technologies to help establish better communication channels between management and staff. These can include social media channels, change management and apps or even alternative options like gamified software or live feedback tools that spur engagement and interactivity.
Empower your workforce with digital skills
To centralise digital adoption strategies, it is important to empower and equip your frontline staff with the necessary skills and knowledge so they know where to fit into the process and how to move forward. This is where HR departments can come in handy - capitalising on talent development and recruitment processes.
Digital natives and millennials have the capabilities and basic knowledge to adopt the initial phases of digital transformation. With that being said, there is still a substantial gap in the skill sets of many organisations. For this reason, it is important to consider upskilling your current staff. It makes the most sense in the long run.
Digital skills are evolving beyond particular facets of marketing or purposes within specific departments. Digital pervasiveness is evident across the business spectrum, and capabilities for digital integration need to be considered in aspects ranging from logistics and inventory management to HR, customer service, production and manufacturing. This means that developing digital skills is a dynamic process that requires regular attention.
Use new tools at your disposal
Consider data and analytics software for better insights on operational, marketing and conversion numbers. These data tools often help to improve decision-making capabilities.
Think about harnessing the power of automation, at least in certain aspects of your business, to help optimise efficiency, time management and overall value by reducing error rates, lowering costs in production and freeing up employees’ time.
Enterprise-grade sales and marketing platforms are a norm these days. Most businesses have some semblance of a sales and marketing central digital tool to help improve sales or manage employee productivity. As an added bonus, these platforms also help to manage and monitor customer experiences, sales numbers and marketing touchpoints. Take full advantage of them.
Digital adoption is a process that involves not only the mere adoption in the physical and technological sense, but also a change in the mindset, skill sets and approach of a business. Going this route means a business owner must, in essence, live and breathe digital.