A simple and collaborative approach to digital transformation

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Digital transformation, disruption, innovation. Business and modern technology concept.

While the past twelve months has accelerated the adoption of eCommerce and technology, Australian businesses still have a long way to go in their digital transformation journey.

CPA Australia surveyed 4000 businesses across 11 markets and found that Aussie SMEs were the least likely to invest in technology and as a result the least likely to profit from the efficiency gains brought about by digital transformation. The research also found that businesses turning to tech solutions are doing so as a short-term fix for an immediate issue.

That band aid approach could be because Australian small businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to B2B technology. While countless industries struggled in 2020, Australia’s technology industry thrived: adding over 30,000 jobs, growing to over 800,000; a number forecast to surpass 1.1 million by 2026 according to Deloitte’s Australia Digital Pulse report.

In a sea of choice, what should small businesses be looking for when it comes to selecting the right tools to help in their digital transformation journey?

Simplify your tech choices

Choice and competition are positive, but it’s easy for small businesses to assume that more is better. I’d argue the opposite. Rather than a different vendor for every business function, the most streamlined, effective system is an open ecosystem where every business application – from customer marketing and point of sale, to inventory management and accounting – seamlessly works together.

Technology is at its most empowering when it simplifies the processes of the businesses relying on it.
This ability to streamline information from across a business, from one app and integration to the next, is the hallmark of a savvy operation.

If a small business deploys different solutions that don’t integrate, silos form. Business silos inhibit the flow of information and are unconducive to the sophisticated yet simple operations small businesses need today. We saw many small businesses start selling online for the first time during COVID — if these online stores are supplementary to physical stores, small-business owners should ensure the two are unified and can work together.

Building a system made up of multiple vendors that aren’t talking to one another will increase costs, reduce data quality, hinder efficiency, and could hurt the customer experience.

Choose collaboration over competition

While Square has built an ecosystem of tools to help sellers run every side of their business, we will partner with the best of breed third party tech tools for efficiency and optimisation. And while integrations sound like something that is in the realm of only the most tech-savvy, the reality is that they are often plug and play meaning that most businesses can make the most of integrated tech tools.

When competition is replaced with collaboration, and B2B technology vendors partner with other best-in-breed solutions, it gives small businesses a stronger foundation, enhanced capabilities, and access to greater expertise.

For example, Square’s integration with Xero, combines both payments and accounting to provide small businesses with a stronger, more streamlined operation. We recognised that together we could provide an enhanced offering for the small businesses we both seek to support.

Outside of payments: if a leading cybersecurity software company partners with a CRM platform to provide its users with greater safeguards over their customer’s data, the user benefits from the expertise and support of two vendors and their collective powers. Collaboration like this can be empowering for small businesses.

Whether a small business is starting or refining its digital transformation strategy, the case for an integrated approach is overwhelming. To maintain Australia’s remarkable economic recovery, we need a digitally advanced small-business sector, leveraging technology that unleashes, not impedes, them. That starts with integration.