Digitalisation schemes are high on the agenda for organisations of all sizes thanks to the range of benefits it unlocks – including efficiencies, improved customer experiences and greater business insights. For SMEs, with less available budget than their enterprise counterparts, navigating Digital Transformation can be more challenging. Here, industry experts offer their advice on how this can best be achieved in 2022.
Whether it’s cybersecurity programmes to protect your increasingly hybrid workforce, customer experience tools to better understand and satisfy your end users or obtaining better insights into your data, Digital Transformation is a strategic objective for most businesses today.
To better understand how organisations can achieve their goals for the year ahead, Intelligent SME.tech spoke to four industry experts who offered their insights…
Rajesh Ganesan, Vice President at ManageEngine
A lot of organisations with failed Digital Transformation initiatives think the problem lies in the technology they used, but it’s important for leadership to recognise that the key to successful Digital Transformation is in the business model, not the technology. Those who understand how to leverage technology to aid in this transformation carry a huge advantage over those who don’t. While factors like size, geography and culture dictate how organisations will carry out Digital Transformation, simply choosing not to undergo it isn’t an option. That’s the mindset organisations, especially SMEs, should adopt.
With emerging competitive spaces and drastic changes in the market landscape, it is inevitable that organisations, along with their Digital Transformation initiatives, will evolve with them over time. Leadership should carefully approach these changes one step at a time, ensuring that their technology strategies align with their business objectives. The first step for companies to best achieve their Digital Transformation goals should be to identify areas of operations that can be successfully transformed with technology.
For instance, introducing text or voice bots, digital signatures and online payment methods to customer support is a great place to start. These technologies should then be assessed based on various KPIs to determine their success rate. Once proven successful, the same model, implementation of digital tools and upgrading the processes, can then be extended to other potential areas.
With this approach, SMEs can leverage new technologies and achieve their Digital Transformation goals. Choosing the right technology vendor who is at the forefront of market demands and can offer innovative solutions that will help overcome the challenges and constraints encountered during Digital Transformation is key to avoiding failure.
Manish Mishra, Head, Middle East & Africa, Freshworks
Competitiveness today requires a digital agility that you cannot get outside a cloud-based environment. This is especially relevant for SMEs. Because of the cloud’s architecture, you have this innate ability to pilot use cases easily and affordably. That allows smaller businesses to take innovative leaps with less risk, and to subsequently scale rapidly and capitalise on new market opportunities.
Today, decision makers across all industries are aware of the need to optimise digital experiences for customers and employees, which can only be done through rapid rollout cycles. Hence the need for cloud-based solutions.
At the same time, the rise of the cloud has fundamentally changed how businesses use the software, with most organisations rushing to embrace a slew of SaaS solutions that cater to specific processes within the company. This could easily create silos and CIOs and IT leaders will face the uphill job of consolidating tech and making sure the CX and EX software is intuitive and integrates well with each other. These pitfalls with cloud are fundamentally no different than those of legacy technology investments.
The key trap to avoid through 2022 is the assumption that moving to the cloud will, on its own, be a solution for all problems. Predictable as its pricing models may be, CIOs should still consider the Digital Transformation journey based on cloud solutions as a five-year venture and calculate the long-term TCO – say, three to five years – accordingly.
Also consider your business goals and map your procurement plan against a strict roadmap. And watch out for regional nuances in things like language, regulatory compliance or business-support hours before selecting a service or vendor.
2022 will witness companies continuing to deploy AI, cloud-based solutions and IoT infrastructure without owning a single server or proprietary piece of cognitive code. Modern no-code interfaces will become more popular as a lack of programming knowledge will cease to become a barrier to smaller organisations – allowing them to offer world-class customer and employee experiences through cloud technology.
Soham Shah, Founder and CEO of Selfdrive.ae
Small and medium enterprises are often known to cater to customer needs given the flexibility and quick decision making that they have compared to large enterprise companies. Their understanding on markets makes it easy for them to transform their way of working with the changing times. Digitisation can help any SME scale to new heights and provide a better experience to clients who have already accustomed themselves to digital platforms given that digital is the way forward.
One way for SMEs to digitise is to ascertain if the modules required are available via acquiring the needed technologies which are known as ‘Plug and Play’ systems. This will accelerate the Go-To-Market strategies of the SMEs helping them bring the product to the market without massive indulgence in budgets. In all fairness, this is a great way to begin digitisation. This is efficient system given the investment costs are well managed when outsourced to a third party.
If SMEs have a clear vision regarding the digital requirements for their customers, they can also hire a team of skilled professionals recruited through proper channels and establish their own setup, the hierarchy of which would flow from the Chief Technological Officer (CTO) to a channel of communication between the tech and core-operations team. Through this team of core and tech individuals, the company can deliver the Minimum Viable Products (MVP) on a deadline with precise customisations. This sort of arrangement will allow a company to test the waters on the production of the MVP without dependency and massive cost incurring on third parties along with acquiring cloud computing, generative AI like technologies for the longer run.
Another approach for SMEs to digitise is a hybrid model allowing them to work in clusters by sourcing interface from a third party alongside the company’s integrating team, given they know the needs of the company and the product inside out. This not only renders cost-effectiveness but also knowledge to their own integrating team on how the process took place so they can handle the same in the long run building customised solutions.
A hybrid module shall benefit the SMEs in a long run. However, if the need of a company is limited to displaying products on a third-party website or limited software integration, the ‘Plug and Play’ approach works just fine.
Despite multiple modules available at the SME’s discretion to digitise themselves in 2022, the main aim at the end of every process must be an exceptional employee and customer experience through collating customer feedbacks and simplifying the workflow.Click below to share this article