Do you start to panic just hearing the words “Digital Transformation?” Does your pulse quicken and do beads of sweat form on your forehead? Do you want to scream and hide under your office desk? Good! These are all the signs that you are a healthy small business owner! I’ve identified the seven worst worries (out of many!) for SMB owners. But I won’t leave you there with this SCARY list, I’ll also give you solutions to guide you on your digital transformation.
First, experience has led me to outline seven worries that small-business owners have when implementing digital solutions.
Yet, these seven worries are interrelated. So, rather than listing them, I group them into two blocks both cumulating with the key worry of keeping up with the competition, like so:
Let’s consider the first block (boxes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7) to understand these threats to a successful digital transformation, as well as how to combat them with practical solutions.
Many owners of small and medium-sized businesses worry about the cost of new technology, as well as having the right people to integrate it. In other words: a lack of resources. The cost can be mitigated by using a cloud-based solution rather than custom-made software. Instead of a large upfront cost, these solutions entail a more affordable monthly fee. Be sure to pick the cloud-based service that fits your budget and needs. The cost can also be mitigated by configuring open-source technology which is either free or inexpensive. Since configuring such programs requires an expertise that most likely is not present in your business, outsourcing your digital transformation may be an excellent solution. This external resource can do more than just configure your tool, he or she can adapt your current processes and train your employees.
Do not neglect training your human resources on the specific usage of the tool that they will be using. This will reduce resistance to change and increase employee buy-in. Once you’ve installed a new program, be sure to leverage it to its maximum potential. Many companies only use 5% to 10% of the capabilities of their software. So, choose the right option (in-house, cloud, or open-source), configure it to fit your needs, train your employees to use it fully, and then automate. Don’t jump into automation too quickly, but once you are ready, automation can simplify your processes.
From a lack of resources flow three other worries: security concerns, resistance to change and adapting processes.
First, let’s address security concerns. Introducing technology can truly make a business vulnerable to data breaches. Several solutions come to mind for combatting this risk:
- Outsource your cybersecurity
- Use a cloud-based solution
- Train employees to avoid phishing attacks
Next, a lack of resources may lead to a resistance to change, especially from within the leadership team. As the owner or CIO, you most likely want to make changes quickly but remember that digital transformation is a journey that takes time. The digital roadmap must be well-understood by all stakeholders so that they will embark on the journey with you.
Last, you know that you will have to adapt current processes to incorporate new ones – a tangible worry. To alleviate this risk, you will have to truly understand your current processes. Map out key processes, such as the one from lead generation to purchase. Be sure to include each step in which an employee intervenes. If you are not apt to map out the core processes, hire a business analyst to do so.
By addressing a lack of resources by implementing these solutions, your digital transformation will be a success, leading to business acumen, a leg up over the competition.
A competitive edge can also be attained when finding solutions in the second block, stemming from the worry over the vast number of programs to know.
Considering that you, as a business owner, most likely do not have a background in software programs, the overwhelming number of technological solutions can be overwhelming. Choosing the right technology should therefore come from the six major departments: business development, research and development, marketing, operations, finance and customer service. A steering committee including a representative from each department will choose the best solution based on the needs of the entire business. Perhaps they will conclude that you already have the right technology and just need to leverage it to gain the needed functionalities. Or perhaps they will suggest a new program for its ease-of-use and ability to be integrated. Either way, the goal is not only to keep up with the competition, but to surpass it.
Your business’s digital transformation is practically assured, after all, if your digital strategy is aligned with your business goals. So, don’t be afraid of these seven worst worries. Instead, find solutions that fit your organization’s needs.