July 7, 2021 Last updated July 7th, 2021 677 Reads share

Digital Transformation Roadmap for SMBs in 2021

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Digital transformation strategies have been increasing their economic importance. Nowadays, digital transformation has also become a priority among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Investing in digital platforms helps SMBs to increase their profits and reach new market opportunities.

Using robotics, automation, machine learning, and predictive analytics, top-scale organizations are improving their operational efficiencies. Having a digital transformation roadmap is also essential for SMBs to gain a competitive edge against the top-scale organizations that are already digitally engaged.

Data lies at the heart of digital transformation. Once they analyze the data, SMBs have a better view of market trends, customer expectations and work on future digital transformation strategies. You may get support from top digital agencies for your digitalization process.

Here, we will give you some digital transformation tips. As we are halfway through 2021, it is time for SMBs to leave behind the traditional form of operations and focus on online marketing methods and integrated cloud-based solutions.

Analyze What Your Business Needs

Since businesses have their strengths and weaknesses in the market, the digital transformation strategy for every SMB will look different. Therefore, the first step you should take is a detailed consideration of your business needs. 

To identify specific issues, you can go for a business process modelling. This method helps you to inspect workflows and operations to expose problems and potential risks. You can focus on questions such as:

  • “Which aspects of your business plan need to be technologically upgraded?”
  • “Which tasks consume a lot of time and can be automated?”
  • “What kind of data can you make accessible to improve customer experiences?”

The word “transformation” initially might be misleading for SMBs. You do not have to transform everything at once. Instead of implementing every novel technological advancement, you should prioritize the specific needs of your business. Otherwise, the transformation process might be expensive and drastic. After you consider what you need for your business, you can take the required steps.

Integrate All Your Business Systems

Implementing disjointed systems is a big mistake made by many SMBs. When your platforms do not communicate with each other, collaboration and transparency get harmed. The result is a very complex set-up with inefficiently used IT resources. To prevent these problems, all your business systems must be tied to each other smoothly.

Systems integration offers a comprehensive solution by eliminating the need to install separate systems for essential work processes such as

  • financial management,
  • inventory tracking, and
  • production scheduling

When you connect business applications such as finance, e-commerce, and customer service, you turn them into interoperable platforms. It facilitates greater visibility and data accuracy. Integration also enhances collaboration across departments.

Use Cloud-Based ERP Software

Now you know the importance of a connected enterprise with modern operations stated above. Cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems integrate and automates essential financial and operational business functions and enable businesses to see the data over the internet. They make procurement, production, distribution, and fulfilment easier.

It is often said that ERP software is too expensive for SMBs to implement. However, cloud-based ERPs are more cost-effective since you do not have to make any hardware investment. Once you commit to the subscription fee, the developers of the cloud ERP software will mostly be responsible for hosting, management, security and upgrades.

Cloud ERP also offers easier installation; you do not have to install any hardware. The only thing you need is to arrange the licensing contract.

Cloud-based ERP can provide the scalability and flexibility that most SMBs need. We know that the priorities of the small companies are liable to change fast, cloud ERP platforms can adjust more quickly than traditional ERP software. Given its easy implementation, cloud ERPs can set you up for growth and opportunity.

Ensure Your Cybersecurity

Alongside its unquestionable benefits, digital transformation is increasing the cybersecurity requirements for businesses. It is quite expected: as businesses evolve with digital transformation, security measures must also adapt. The significance of cybersecurity has increased for SMBs as much as bigger initiatives since SMBs are targeted by cybercriminals more compared to the past.

SMBs face cyber risks that can impact the success of their growing business operations. After a security assessment, you need to create a security policy that is unique to your SMB. Implementing a digitally engaged, solid cybersecurity policy also involves training employees. You should train your employees for them to find out how they can help the company by remaining up to date about computer and data use.

The protection of organizational data from dangerous threats such as ransomware and phishing requires next-generation antivirus programs. Next-gen antivirus programs rely on

  • artificial intelligence,
  • machine learning, and
  • behavioural analytics

These programs can easily detect non-standard operations in the background. They also offer cloud-based solutions that eliminate the need for additional hardware.

Work on Mobile Interaction

Now many people read their e-mails on mobile devices and conduct their e-commerce interactions through mobile apps. For this reason, customers expect easier transitions between desktop and mobile when accessing digital services. Regardless of how excellent your service is, if it is not usable on a mobile device, you will lose customers

SMBs should offer better digital experiences for their customers, and mobile usage is an essential aspect of improved customer service. As the customers demand more mobile interactions, SMBs should deploy mobile infrastructure to operate more efficiently. For example, utilizing a mobile platform that enables customer engagement interaction and automation will gain you a lot of time in marketing tasks.

Mobile usage is irreplaceable for SMBs in terms of workforce productivity as well. Many small businesses do not follow a mobile-first approach for their employees, making it difficult to manage devices across their teams

Yet, for a solid digital transformation, mobile communications and collaboration capabilities should be more integrated. Mobile messaging, collaboration and file-sharing applications are also beneficial to get everyone on the same platform and boost harmony.

Seek Third-Party Services

SMBs must figure out how to accomplish big things in a short time with limited resources. Most of them do not have enough IT resources and expertise to handle projects on their own. Working together with third-party firms, and other SMBs can help SMBs with decision making and resource allocation

IT management departments of SMBs more often see the importance of external third parties like cloud service providers or other technology consulting firms. Software consultancy is one of the best steps to take for your digital transformation efforts

Seeking help from software consultants help SMBs mitigate risks and allocate their resources in the best way possible. They find specific solutions and simplify the projects for you by considering budget and timeline restrictions.

Develop a Digital Culture

Successful digital transformation comes with a strong vision. Culture is a significant barrier to digital transformation when the latest digital trends are not understood at all levels of the organization. SMBs that recognize the importance of digital culture will thrive in the future.

You should create a company culture that is in line with your digital transformation attempts. An effective digital culture in organizations motivates employees to make decisions that can carry your business goals forward. Everyone in your organization should be aware of the impact that digital technologies can have on overall productivity

Digital company culture enables an independent decision-making process in which employees know what is required of them without the need for direct management, or without directly asking their managers how to perform a task

This awareness will not only give employees a sense of independence but also make decision-making faster. It is also important to prioritize collective work over individual efforts in digital culture. You should make sure that company information is easily available across different departments, divisions, and units for the sake of increased transparency.

The importance of training cannot be stressed enough. You should educate your employees on the benefits of digital transformation, such as showing how an online tool can help them perform tasks easily. Digital transformation courses may help you with this

When they use the technologies effectively, they will feel empowered regarding their career goals. Do not forget to address your employees’ concerns if they feel threatened by the introduction of technology and automation. Thus, you can show you value their labour more than automation.

Conclusion

It is needless to say that the business world is highly competitive, and the introduction of digital transformation makes the competition fiercer. To gain a competitive edge in 2021, SMBs must take a step forward to improve their overall operational efficiency. Even though initiating a digital transformation process could be overwhelming at the beginning, you can overcome the hardships if you lean on careful planning, prioritization, partnership, and employee education.

Here, we provided a digital transformation roadmap for SMBs. With such huge investments and a fast-evolving market, the future of digital transformation will see technology at the core of every business operation. Of course, there is more than this when it comes to digital transformation, but you have time to make progress

It is time for SMBs to integrate technologies within their business operations if they have not done so already.

Justin W

Justin W

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