The increasing investment by businesses in digital initiatives is dictated by customers who expect services and products to be fast and efficient. As a first step, small businesses need to understand digitalisation to formulate a strategy to gain profits and help small businesses become more efficient and serve their customers better. Simply put, you need to put in a digital transformation initiative. Digital transformation refers to using digital technologies to create, upgrade, or modify existing processes, practices and workflows.
While digital transformation predominantly involves digital technologies, it is not about technology alone. A critical component of successful digital transformation is people. You need to involve all your stakeholders in the process. Understanding their needs and educating them about their role in adopting digital transformation and the value it can create for them is critical to help them embrace changes in the work environment.
As a small business owner on a limited budget, digitizing your business may seem daunting, but here are four digital technologies best practices that will help you to move towards a digital platform.
1. You Need a Website No Matter Your Industry
In this day and age where digital technology and the Internet has influenced how we live and work, it is shocking to know that very few small business owners have a website. This means that small business owners probably don’t know the benefits of having a business website. The advantages of a website for a small business are:-
Don’t be mislead into thinking a company page in Facebook is enough to build your credibility. In 2015, Verisign surveyed showed that 84% of consumers believe that having a website makes your business more credible than just a social media page.
If you want an effective website or one that can help you take your business to another level, you must be prepared to invest in one. Do not penny-pinch and try to do a website on your own or with your friends using free templates.
A lot goes into having an optimized website—SEO optimization, file compression, responsive design, schema markup, etc. – and if it isn’t built on the right foundation, it will likely topple over. Your best option would always be to hire a professional web designer who has the experience and training to build a functional yet aesthetically beautiful website specific for your industry.
A basic website to establish your online presence that you can jazz up later when you have a better cash flow can cost anywhere from 3 – 5 thousand ringgit. Other end of the spectrum is a completely custom website from a professional website design company tailored for your business needs; you’re looking at an investment of a few thousand ringgits.
Here’s what goes into the cost of a website:
Do not let a price tag deter you from creating a website. A website is not an expense. It is an investment because you should expect a return on your money within a period of time. Remember that the price of having a website is much lower than the price of getting left behind.
2. Improve Everyday Efficiency
No matter how efficient you think you have become today, there is always room for improvement thanks to new technological solutions.
Using outdated legacy systems, operating processes manually that could be automated, poor communication between managers and workers are typical real problems that can be solved using digital solutions.
With digitalisation, you can transition data workflows from the pen and paper format to the Cloud to manage data better. You simply need to identify common applications and platforms for your users, standardise formats and processes for seamless information flow to ease communication, and power up your workflows with digital capabilities.
Cloud technologies have opened up opportunities to fundamentally transforming customer experiences and the work environment. Cloud computing is really the internet as we use it today with services such as Amazon Web Services, Google Drive, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, etc. In simple terms, the term Cloud covers a variety of on-demand computing and storage services. The Cloud makes robust enterprise technology accessible globally to businesses of all sizes without the need to invest in expensive infrastructure or large teams.
Digitalising with ubiquitous technology like Cloud, mobile applications, collaborative tools greatly increases speed and efficiency, especially if the system is built specifically around your business. Ignoring new technologies and solutions will cause you to fall behind to more innovative companies. Your technology adoption constantly needs to evolve and adapt to new business conditions and scale together with the company.
3. Keep a focus on data and accuracy
The relentless digitalisation of business and society have created extraordinarily large amounts of transactional, operational, and behavioural data across channels and devices that can be leveraged to provide better customer experiences and improve operational efficiency.
The key is not just to gather data but be able to extract valuable insights from the data you have, as this is what helps you exactly understand what your partners, vendors, and customers need.
One challenge for many small businesses is to use available data, especially as data grows larger in size and complexity. Hence, it is necessary to unify and analyse data in a centralised system and make it actionable to create consistent, enhanced, and customised experiences to serve your customers better. From an organisational perspective, this can require experts from multiple disciplines to work together to peel back multiple layers of data and insight. This would require the breaking down silos between teams and departments, and creating a structure where they can communicate with each other to bring data together.
4. Communicate With Your Customers To Provide Best User Experience
Customers today are used to instant gratification, and they will leave you for your competitors if your business can’t meet them. Therefore, a fast and smooth user experience is imperative to succeed in the market.
It’s your job to make it as easy and painless as possible for your customers to get the answers they need before buying the product or service.
To do that, you should have a plan in place for providing service across a variety of channels where your customers typically reach out to you. In addition to getting a product or service that works for them, they want to buy from companies that make it easy to get help when they need it.
While digitalisation and new technologies allow your business to make the value chain shorter and offer more value to your customers, you need to think about your customers’ needs and everyday problems and try to find new creative solutions for them. You don’t have to be a big multinational company to offer the best experience; you just have to think outside the box by regularly asking customers for feedback. By incorporating the process of getting customers’ feedback in your digital transformation plans, you can identify potential problems before they cause your customers to churn. However, the process of soliciting feedback must be done without inundating them with communications that could lead to survey fatigue.
Word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. Great word of mouth is a priceless asset for any small business, and word of mouth marketing is hands-down the most effective and reliable type of marketing.
Digitalising your business processes may look overwhelming for small businesses. However, the key is to identify the top priorities, start small, and take incremental steps toward transforming your business processes. There is absolutely no reason to be confused, concerned or afraid when it comes to digital transformation. Correctly done, it will make your business operations more efficient and productive. This, in turn, makes you a more formidable competitor and allows you to grab a bigger share of your given market.
We at Adstar Digital work hard with each of our clients to develop trusted, long term relationships that are founded on innovation that drive results, so that you know every dollar spent with us is an investment back into your company.