The digital transformation of an SME is today one of the processes that arouses the most interest in most business sectors. According to a study by Market Research for BBVA, published in 2017, 60% of Spanish companies consider digitization essential to obtain greater profits and more success in their businesses.
However, the term digital transformation is often confused and businessmen believe that it implies little more than using Social Networks or having a website. What is clear is that we must adapt to the new form of consumption and get where our client is. If we are not at the same level, it will be difficult to stand out and gain a foothold among the competition, which is increasingly prepared.
What is digital transformation
The first thing you need to know is what exactly digital transformation is and what it is not. We are talking about a process that involves not only the directors of the organization but also each of the departments and employees, who must be fully involved.
In general terms, it consists of taking advantage of new technologies to increase the efficiency and productivity of our business and find new opportunities aimed at business success.
At a time when consumers have gone from being mere spectators to becoming an active part of the purchase process, using technology and taking advantage of the digital environment to improve a company’s profits is essential.
Digital transformation – Digitization
Digital transformation involves all those steps that are aimed at achieving better results through the advantages of new technologies, from digitization and document management to Big Data or digital marketing and social networks.
The concept is often confused with digitization , which is only part of the process. Converting a company’s documents from paper to electronic format is undoubtedly one of the first steps that any business must take if it intends to make a complete digital transformation.
Advantages of the digital transformation of an SME
Digital transformation brings many advantages for both SMEs and large companies, which are fighting for a good position in the digital environment. Despite the elimination of geographical or social barriers that the Internet has achieved, the number of businesses grows day by day and therefore, competition makes it difficult for many businesses to survive.
The fact of taking a qualitative leap with everything that this process implies implies an increase in quality for any SME, whatever the sector to which it belongs. On the one hand, there are the advantages of digitizing documents that are added to the benefits of complete digital transformation and that we list below:
We all know that the Internet breaks down borders and therefore, for an SME, the use of digital tools is an opportunity to generate contacts with international markets that were previously inaccessible.
The physical location is no longer an impediment to establishing relationships both with potential clients and with other professionals in the sector. Establishing collaborations or meetings through a live videoconference or with video applications to provide post-sale support is possible thanks to new technologies. Are you going to stop taking advantage of them?
Lets you know your customers
The more data we have about the users we target, the more chances to connect with them and establish a lasting relationship. Digital tools, and Bid Data in particular, give us access to information on potential clients that was unthinkable a few years ago.
The fact of knowing not only their gender or age, but also their interests, the channels they frequent, the needs or objectives they have set, their opinion about certain products or brands… is very valuable information to win them over.
Improve your reputation
A good reputation and brand recognition is a way to stand out. Users have information about any product at their fingertips before purchasing it and turn to their mobile devices to consult opinions, contact the brand or communicate their complaints.
When an SME has a good online reputation, the chances of becoming the option chosen by a potential client increase considerably.
More productivity and more income
Processing data immediately, managing documents or reducing the time it takes to search for valuable information in the company, has a direct impact on reducing costs and increasing employee productivity.
A company that invests in digital transformation will always be better valued and more efficient than one that does not.
The use of new technologies facilitates fluid communication between the different departments of an organization. At the same time, it encourages teamwork and, therefore, leads to better results in each of the projects.
In addition, there is the added advantage of being able to access any document or project from any place and/or device without having to be in the same location.
Main barriers to implementation
Despite the fact that SMEs recognize the need to adapt and undergo a full digital transformation, there are some reasons that stop them from carrying it out.
According to a study by the consulting firm, Roland Berger , digital transformation improves the results of companies’ business figures, reducing costs by up to 20 percent and is also the most important challenge for the competitiveness of our country in the medium and long term.
However, Spanish SMEs, according to the consultant, find a series of barriers that prevent them from joining the digital age and which are mainly the following:
- Fear of change: especially in older companies, with older managers who are not afraid of changing to a format they are not familiar with and are not used to.
- Cost: many SMEs still believe that it is an unnecessary expense and are unaware that digital transformation is an investment that pays for itself in a short time.
- Lack of skills
- Lack of offer adapted to the market (infrastructure, devices and solutions…)
- Legal uncertainty
- No commitment in management
In addition to these barriers, there are other reasons that companies in Spain allege for not resorting to new technologies, such as:
- Customer service: having a new online channel also means good customer service if you don’t want its quality to diminish. Some brands are reluctant to implement social networks or online sales because it requires extra support that they do not want to assume. However, the automation that some tools allow makes this customer service much easier.
- Logistics : to offer a good service, with fast and cheap shipments at a national or even international level, you must have an efficient and quality commercial process, adapted to the digital environment. Today, there are many ways to make that investment profitable and to seek logistical support.
Digital transformation: keys to the process
The digital transformation not only affects the company but also each of the parties involved, from managers to lower-level workers in each of the departments or areas of the business.
For the process to be a success there are some keys that you must take into account:
Plan before you execute
Before starting the process, it is necessary to have a plan of how the company is going to transform itself. Knowing the changes that will occur, the people who will be involved, the new work methodology or the deadlines to carry out each of the tasks is essential.
For an optimal organization it is always good to have advisors or experts in the field as well as attend events related to digital transformation.
Meet the users
As we said before, having first-hand information about the clients you are targeting is a way of knowing where you should focus your strategy. A rigorous analysis of their digital habits, the channels in which they move, the means through which they are informed before buying… will allow you to achieve success when you address them.
Mentalize and involve the whole team
You must have workers committed to the new challenges and processes that lie ahead. For this, it is important to keep them informed so that the changes do not catch them off guard and they are aware of the importance of adapting in the shortest possible time.
In a digital transformation process there are many steps. From knowing how a newly installed document management software works to improve productivity to a style guide for social media posts or digital customer service, employees need to receive ongoing training from the company.
Analyze and measure results
Without a good analysis, we can never know if the strategy and the actions implemented are on the right track or need improvement.
In conclusion, the digital transformation of an SME is a process that is here to stay. A competitive company cannot do without new technologies because it would be doomed to failure. If consumer habits have changed, why shouldn’t organizations?