How SMEs can unlock the benefits of digital transformation

Embrace digital transformation to turn your business into a high-performing solutions provider.

Digital transformation. It’s the big buzzword of 2016. Everyone’s talking about it. Big businesses are investing in it. And consultancy firms have dedicated services to it. But what does it actually mean for SMEs?

Since the ubiquity of digital technology – beginning with the internet and accelerating with mobile technology – the behaviour of consumers has radically transformed. Research companies, such as Forrester, dub this era as “the age of the consumer.”

Let’s consider the purchase of a car. About 10 or 15 years ago, a consumer may have searched physical directories and newspapers before visiting several dealerships and finally making their purchase. Their journey was heavily influenced by advertising from the manufacturer and the sales tactics of the dealer.

But now, the tools of research and influence are in the hands of the consumer. They are influenced by their friends on social media. They are informed by the reviews of car research websites. And they’re comparing prices and options using online comparison services.

In this age, by the time the consumer reaches the dealership, they’re highly informed and knowledgeable on what they want – and why they want it. Along the way, they’ve been less influenced by advertising, and have become immune to the tactics of the salesman.

So how can SMEs take advantage of the changing landscape and deliver more value to their customers? Here are three simple ways SMEs can kickstart their digital transformation:

  • Address pain points in the customer experience. Consider the process of getting a smash repair quote. It can be a stressful, time-consuming process. That’s why Melbourne panel beaters Sheen Group developed their “Upload Your Smash” feature, which allows customers to receive a remote assessment on their car damage and an expected turnaround time for the job, all within the hour. This is just one example but the cumulative effect across the customer journey is transformative. By improving the customer experience through an investment in digital, Sheen has doubled the number of leads since 2015.
  • Use data to make decisions (no more guesswork). Most SME owners and managers understand that they should be making decisions based on analytics data. But many find this a confusing or uneasy prospect. Thankfully, the barriers to entry for data and analytics are reducing. There are now many user-friendly applications available to SMEs – such as Xero – that make collecting and understanding data more seamless.
  • Be open to learning and testing. There are plenty of simple experiments that any business owner and manager can try, such as testing variations of email marketing subject lines or website copy. Analyse the data, learn what works, then repeat. The faster your business can optimise digital assets and channels, the greater your chance of outpacing and outperforming your competitors.

It’s not a simple task but many SMEs are beginning to understand that the limit to growth is no longer a market’s size or a factory’s capacity – it’s the vision and foresight of the leadership team to embrace new ways of doing business and add more value for their customers.

Adam Laurie, Managing Director, Digital360

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