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What does Digital Transformation really mean for a small business?

By April 7, 2023No Comments
What digital transformation really means for a small business

Digital transformation is about reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world according to Microsoft.  

Many small businesses think that Digital Transformation is out of reach for them or doesn’t apply. It can seem that this is a phrase reserved for enterprise-sized businesses with an entire IT department available to them.  

This is no longer the reality. Global events over the past couple of years mean that every business has had to innovate and take a digital step forward. There has never been a better time for small businesses to learn what it means to have their own personal digital transformation, at their own pace and budget. 

Why is it important that small businesses follow the digital transformation trend?

Numbers don’t lie. Here are just a couple of statistics: 

90% of consumers said they would stop doing business with a company using outdated technology

(Source: Microsoft Commissioned Survey)

47% of Small and Medium Businesses said technology is critical to their company’s future

(Source: The Boston Consulting Group) 

This is your opportunity to stand out. Don’t be part of the 53% of small businesses who don’t think technology is critical to their company’s future. These are the companies most likely to watch their competitors pass them by, and most likely to lose customers to the online start-up who just disrupted their market. 

A business must continuously innovate so that its customers remain loyal. Let’s say it loud and proud – it is hard to be a small business. To find your niche and to stand out from the crowd. Digital transformation ensures you stay relevant and competitive. 

It doesn’t have to be done at once, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with simple steps to find out what digital transformation could look like for your business. Below are some suggestions based on Bam Boom Cloud’s 25+ years of experience supporting small businesses with Microsoft Technology.  

Digital transformation is not just moving your information and applications to the cloud

Moving to the cloud is a step in the right direction, but digitization is more than just a change of tools or technological devices. Daily practices, workplace structures, reporting relationships, information sharing, customer interactions, and even competition are also being transformed. This disruption is changing the way businesses sell to and service their customers. 

And it isn’t just affecting large firms. Small businesses must transform to avoid being left behind. 

There was a time when we saw concepts like ‘engaging customers’ and ‘optimizing operations’ as individual elements of an evolving business. Instead, these elements should be addressed holistically as part of a company-wide digital transformation strategy, helping to:  

  • Create unique, connected, and modern consumer engagement experiences.  
  • Optimize operations to build seamless business models. 
  • Empower employees to innovate and build new, stronger relationships. 

So, how do you get started? Change starts from within. To enable digital transformation strategies, companies first need intelligent business applications. 

STEP 1: Create unique, connected modern consumer engagement experiences

The goal here is to have a better understanding of your customers to help create a more personalized experience and to reduce any frustrations previously caused by manual processes. This can be done through:

  • A Billing and provisioning platform. 
  • A customer relationship management tool. 
  • Improved HR experience (boosting your team’s work environment and increasing employee retention).  

STEP 2: Optimize operations to build seamless business models

The goal here is to find the right tools to make your business as repeatable as possible, and this can be done using:

  • Role based dashboards. 
  • Template deployment. 
  • Master data management.
  • Process automation. 

STEP 3: Empower employees to innovate and build new, stronger relationships

This can and should start with talking to your employees. Find out how they work and understand how they go about their day-to-day processes. What you think they do might be very different to the reality! There is a mindset change that needs to happen, to optimize the use of tools you may already have in your business, for example through:

  • Microsoft Teams training.  
  • Find out what happens on spreadsheets or scraps of paper and replace those with a Microsoft PowerApp.
  • Discover where manual approval is being obtained with wet ink signatures, and use Microsoft Power Automate instead. 

What are the tools you need to start your transformation?

You should start by looking at what tools are available are accessible to your business. An important feature for small businesses to look for is native integrations with other systems so that you don’t have to build them yourself. That’s where Microsoft stands out with its cloud products such as Azure, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365.

If you already use Microsoft 365 within your organization, then there are plenty of tools already at your fingertips. All you need is training and encouragement to optimize them. 

Once you have the basics in place, you can look at updating other tools such as accounting and customer relationship management systems. The secret here is to find ones that integrate with other applications, and that have the same look and feel as your existing tools, e.g. Microsoft Dynamics 365. This helps with user adoption and reduces any resistance to change. 

Why is this important for your organization?

Improved processes lead to improved customer satisfaction

  • More relevant contact with accounting, and fewer errors when sending information. 
  • ‘Always and everywhere’ insight into a company’s status. 
  • Employees can access everything about a client, offering a more personalized experience. 

Focus 100% on your business

As hard or scary as digital transformation might seem, you just need to start small. A lot of changes are quick to make and can be done by someone with minimal technical skills. Microsoft cloud tools are simple, and you know your business. Bring both together to help your employees work smarter and it’s a win-win for everyone.

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