Many small business owners think that digital transformation belongs to major corporations. They seem to ignore that they also need to be rapidly engaging with the transformation process in order to remain competitive. This article would like to asses the trends in the field and enable small businesses to see how they can fit in the process.
What Is Digital Transformation?
It is a broad term but in the context of small businesses, it generally refers to the process of adapting current business processes to incorporate digital strategies and technology. This may include adopting new devices so that employees can work away from the office, using mobile apps to improve internal communication, going paperless through digital data capture, putting more services on-line and allowing consumers to use on-line payments services and the means to make payments either on-line or directly through no contact payment systems.
We are hereby going to look at a few of the emerging trends and strategies small business can consider adopting.
Many small businesses are looking at automation. An example of this is using databases to capture information to make the searching for information faster when the need arise. The advantages of automation is that it allows employees to focus their attentions on more skilled tasks, and on activities that will bring income or lower operating costs. An example of software that can help lower the administrative burden is Microsoft Bookings an online and mobile app for small businesses who provide services to customers on an appointment basis. Examples of such businesses include hair salons, dental offices, spas, law firms, financial services providers, consultants, and auto shops. Bookings has three primary components:
Meeting customer service expectations
Customers expect faster services from business, according to Microsoft Business, and are often expecting to engage with businesses digitally, from communication to making payments. Customers also expect faster, round-the-clock services and faster deliveries of goods. It is only through digital platforms that businesses can meet these expectations. Customers are also a rich source of data for the business which many smaller businesses fail to collect and use. Such information can help the business to meet changing customer needs, such as which channels customers want to engage with. Can they engage on-line, via mobile devices or even accessing services or paying for goods by use of smartwatches)
Small businesses should take care not to rush in and adopt technology for it’s sake; this could lead to inefficiencies. Before adoption, businesses should evaluate technology on the basis of:
Clarity: The technology should be for a precise reason, answering a direct need.
Simplicity: The solution should allow for less time to spent on IT management, not more
Security: The technology should maintain a top level of security.
Reliability: External service providers must guarantee a specific level of service.
Sustainability: If the platform becomes obsolete, the data must be able to be removed and used with another system.So a scalable technology needs to be considered at the planning stage
These are important considerations for any small business and may open up new possibilities. Digital technology, to a degree, levels the playing field for small businesses versus larger corporations. It opens up new possibilities for growth and being competitive.
One immediate driver for small businesses is the adoption of mobile payments, which is fast growing in small enterprises. Companies like Yoco have developed solutions no small business must be without.