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How can a digital transformation really revolutionise your small business?

When we talk about digital transformations what we really mean is reviewing how you bring together people, data as well as processes to allow you to provide better value for your customers and remain competitive in a digital-led environment. 

When you talk to small businesses, most believe that a comprehensive digital transformation is unattainable and something that is not applicable to them. Furthermore, it is often widely believed that only large corporations with significant IT resources need only apply for digital transformations. 

However, believe it or not, the above is no longer the case. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that every business big or small has had to evolve to meet the demands of the modern digital working environment. Therefore, it is the perfect time for small businesses to find out all about digital transformations and how it can be achieved in their own time and within their allocated budget. 

So, why should my small business go down the path of a full digital transformation? 

The answer is simple, the statistics around digital transformations are there for all to see with 90% of consumers choosing to stop doing business with those that use legacy systems as well as 47% of SMEs believing that technology is vital in helping to secure their long-term futures. 

Think of a digital transformation as more of a long-term fix rather than a short term one. Don’t fall into the crowd of the 53% of SMEs that feel that technology isn’t important for their business. This is usually the case for businesses that lose their competitive advantage as a result of not doing so, meaning that they lose customers. 

There are no doubts that innovation is the key to helping to build customer loyalty. Let’s face it, it’s not always easy being a small business as you always feel like you are fighting a losing battle. However, it doesn’t have to be like this if you don’t want it to be, a digital transformation enables your business to remain relevant and stay competitive. 

Also, you do not need to complete a digital transformation in one go or over complicate the process of doing so. The best approach to take is to start with small steps to discover exactly what a digital transformation could be like for your business. We’ve collated some ideas below based on our experience of working with and supporting small businesses for over 20 years through the use of Microsoft technology. 

Moving to the Cloud doesn’t constitute a digital transformation 

Taking the necessary steps to move to the cloud is part of the process but gearing up your business for a digital-led world is so much more than just changing tools or technology. You will find that daily routines, structures, reporting, sharing information, customer engagements and much more are also undergoing a transformation. This is helping to pave the way towards a full change in the way that businesses sell to and service their customers. 

This isn’t only the case with the large corporations. Small businesses must digitalise to avoid being left behind by the competition. 

Back in the early days of the digital world, concepts such as customer interactions and operation optimisaton were seen as individual elements of a developing business. However, nowadays they should be seen as a part of the process in working towards a business-wide digital transformation which will enable your business to do the following: 

  • Build tailored, connected and modern consumer interaction experiences. 
  • Give employees the power to evolve and construct better relationships. 
  • Transform operations to create engaging business models. 

Ok, great this sounds good but what do I need to do to get started with this? You will find that most changes start inside your business. To allow digital transformation to occur, businesses require leading business applications in place. 

Stage 1: Build tailored, connected and modern consumer interaction experiences 

The main purpose of this stage is to gain a more rounded understanding of your customer base to allow you to build a better and more tailored experience and to eliminate any headaches caused in the past by manual processes. This can be achieved through the following: 

  • A CRM tool 
  • A billing and resourcing platform 
  • A better HR experience 

Stage 2: Give employees the power to evolve and construct better relationships. 

This conversation begins and ends by discussing this with your employees. Learn all about their approach to work and discover more about their daily routines and processes. The perception you have of this could be markedly different from what it actually is. At this point, you will need to reset the mindset change that needs to occur, to make better use of existing tools across your business through some of the following examples: 

Stage 3: Transform operations to create engaging business models. 

The main purpose of this stage is to identify which tools are the best for your business to use repetitively which can be achieved through some of the following elements: 

  • Automated processes 
  • Role specific dashboards 

All the above sounds great, but what tools do I need to get started with my digital transformation? 

You should begin the process by identifying which tools are currently available and accessible to your business. One of the more important parts of functionality that you need to look for as a small business are native integrations with other systems, so you don’t have to build them. You will find that this is where Microsoft excels through its selection of cloud-based products such as Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365). 

In the vast majority of cases, businesses already use Microsoft 365 which means you already have a whole host of useful tools at your disposal. With a little bit of Office 365 training and encouragement, you can unlock these and add real value to your business. 

After you have the basic principles in place, you can then expand the reach further by looking to update other tools in your business such as accounting and CRMs. The secret recipe to overall success is to identify ones that easily integrate with other apps and that have a similar look and feel to things you already use across your business, for example Dynamics 365. This can make the adoption process much easier and reduce any barriers to change from your employees. 

Why is all of the above so important for your business? 

Having better processes in place can help your business to improve overall satisfaction. 

  • Better and more updated contact with accounting and better accuracy when sending information. 
  • Better insights into your overall business 
  • Employees can access all customer information which can enable them to create much more personalised experiences. 

Next Steps? 

If you are a small business and have read the above and are keen to start your journey towards a full digital transformation with Advantage then please talk to our team of business transformation experts now to get started. 

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