A Guide to Digitization for Small to Medium-sized Businesses

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Customers are spending more time online looking for information and, perhaps most importantly, looking for products and services. If your business hasn't adapted to use and provide digital services, you are missing out on a massive growth and revenue opportunity. Digitizing your business can transform the products, services and experiences you provide to your customers in addition to helping streamline processes and procedures to help you run your business much easier.

What is Business Digitization?

In a world relying more and more on technology and the internet, it is imperative that you digitize your business. Also, the development and maturity of different tools and services have made it easier to put together a digitization plan in months and not years like in the past.

But What Does It Mean to Digitize Your Business?

Business digitization is incorporating technologies to improve operational efficiency, functions and processes. It can also help improve customer experiences leading to better customer retention, repeat customers and a significant boost in revenue. It is important to understand that digitizing a business is not about serving today’s needs but also preparing for a future where business success will depend on how well a business adopts and utilizes the technology available to it.

Digitization looks different to every business depending on its goals and objectives as well as what and how much it wants to digitize. For this reason, it can range from using SaaS and CRM software to streamline customer management to building an app that makes it easier for customers to access your products and services or even embroidering digital and mobile payments.

How Digitization Empowers Businesses

Digitization positions businesses better to seize the opportunities available and create new business models. It also empowers them in other ways:

Productivity - Digitization can streamline processes and automate repetitive tasks which can free up employees to focus on more critical and profitable tasks. Businesses can also use different technologies and tools to tackle skill gaps. This helps employers upskill their employees affordably and quickly.

Efficiency - Information silos lead to massive inefficiencies because different teams or departments do not have easy access to the data that others do. Digitalization can help break these silos, unite data and provide a much more complete view of the customer. Think of digitization as the tool that helps businesses make better use of all the data they collect.

Profitability - Digitization can help businesses keep operational costs low while also transforming them to become more customer-centric. Businesses can use different tools Customer Relationship Management software to be more data-driven, which helps them identify opportunities for increasing sales and provide better opportunities, both of which can lead to an increase in profits.

The Benefits of Digitization

One major benefit of digitization is that it helps organizations save time and money. Printing, organizing and storing business documents is a tedious, expensive and time-consuming process. Save your business some time and money by moving to digital formats. Doing so has the secondary benefit of eliminating the frustration of trying to find documents not remembering where they were stored.

Digitization can help businesses improve customer experiences. In the modern age, most customers prefer the ease and convenience of online transactions. Whether you incorporate online scheduling, digital and mobile payments or streamline ordering through an app, you will be creating better experiences for your customers.

Additionally, many people expect good customer service when they get in touch with your business. A bad customer service experience is a deal-breaker for a lot of people who say they cannot do business with one that does not provide good customer service. The various technological solutions available to businesses today allow them to provide better customer service, where it is allowing agents to understand customers faster and better or to provide fast and accurate help when required.

As we have seen above, digitization can also help improve efficiency and productivity. From automation, time tracking and collaboration tools to project management and inventory management software, businesses have hundreds of tools and solutions that can help them be more efficient and productive.

Digitization can also help improve customer engagement. This is typically through reimagining how your business comes across online and how people interact with it there. Additionally, creating a strong online presence and staying in touch with your customers in these digital spaces can help boost engagement and sales.

Getting Started

Now that you understand what digitization is and how it benefits your business, how do you get started? As with everything you do in your business, the first step is setting a goal and having a direction. The goal will answer the question of what you would like to achieve by digitizing the business. Maybe you would like to streamline content delivery or order fulfillment, or maybe you want to create brand awareness.

Whatever your aspirations are, set clear and achievable goals and stick with them. Doing so will help you stick with the direction that you would like to take the business in. The direction is also dictated by the strategy you put together.

When doing so, start by figuring out what your pain points are and what is currently stopping you from achieving the goals you have set above. Establishing this will help you build the right roadmap for getting to your goals and surpassing them.

Your strategy should also include the different tools you would like to use to achieve your goals. These are tools that solve the pain points you have identified above. It is also at this point that you should start thinking about integration. This means identifying the functions you will swap out so that you have room for digitization.

Put Together Cloud-based Solutions

One of the benefits of digitalization is reduced costs and increased profitability. It is quite difficult to get these benefits if you do not keep your overall costs down. One of the best ways to do so is to opt for cloud-based solutions.

When you go this route, you do not have to worry about IT infrastructure, software versions and patches, maintenance and everything that comes with running these solutions in-house. You can find cloud-based alternatives to the tools and solutions you have selected above but remember that you will need fast internet to ensure everything works as expected.

For modern businesses, a fiber connection is the best option. These connections typically have higher speeds than alternatives and are reliable and cost-effective. You can find the best fiber service provider by searching for the best fiber internet near me and you should find a solution that works for your business.

Opting for these solutions also allows you to open up your business to remote work. This will give your business access to a larger pool of talent which will help you achieve the goals you have set above.

Hire the Right People

Whether remote or in-house, hiring the right people is critical for the success of any modern business. Hire people who will support your goals while also helping you implement your digitization strategy. This means that the candidates should preferably be people with some tech skills, highly adaptable because things will change as you go through this transition, and who are innovation focused. These qualities will help make the transition go much better.

Talk to Your Stakeholders

For small businesses, you might be the only stakeholder whose opinion matters. However, you might have more people whom you need to buy into your digitization strategy if you run a medium-sized business. Involving your stakeholders like this will ensure the change takes place from the top to the bottom while also ensuring they understand digitization will improve things rather than making some employees irrelevant or redundant. Once you get them to buy in, it is critical that you involve them in the day-to-day changes taking place. Bringing them in to provide feedback and helpful insight is an important part of ensuring the digitization works.

Investing in Digitization

While digitization will help your business reduce its overall costs, it is important to understand that it will require some investment. This is one of the challenges of digitization. The investment will come in the form of both time and money as you put everything in place including the solutions you require and the people you need to help your digitization strategy succeed.

When investing, spread the investment throughout the organization. You want the whole business moving in a single direction instead of departments and teams being left behind because they have not been digitized yet. Start small across the business and make incremental changes as you go. Remember that digitization should be an evolution for your business rather than its downfall.  Additionally, it should not take your focus away from your business’s primary goals.

How you will stay focused on your business’s main goals even as you digitize is something that you should include in your digitization strategy.

While it can take some time, digitization will benefit your business in numerous ways. It is something that customers expect of modern businesses, and failure to do it can lead to your business being beaten by its competitors.

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