Digitising my business, where do I start?
We all strive to be more efficient and few would argue against the use of digital channels, tools, and platforms in order for a business to achieve this. Our customers’ expectations have expanded over the years as they grow increasingly used to the instantaneous communication and service they receive in other areas of their lives.
We all want to be able to service our customers better, yet many of us are not communicating with our customers in their preferred medium. We want to reap the benefits of having a remote workforce or offer flexible working but have yet to move to 'the cloud'. Many small businesses are still to embrace the advances in digital technology owing to lack of time or skills and the perceived cost of doing so.
Being unable to keep up-to-date with today’s fast-paced technological changes can lead to apprehension about tackling the issue. But like anything, ignoring it won’t make it go away.
Examine your business model
Before you embark on this overhaul, take time out to review your business plan and maybe even take advice. After all, these changes have taken place gradually over many years and you can’t be expected to have all the necessary skills in-house to bring about this change. Just because you might be more familiar with social media and mobile applications doesn't mean that your focus should be on your marketing processes only. Instead look at how advances in technology can change not just the customer engagement part of your business process but also the production, marketing, sales and fulfillment of your product or service. Go back to the beginning and ask yourself those old questions: Who is our customer? Who is our competition? How often are they buying our product? What do they think of our customer service? Only then can you start your businesses journey to digitisation.
Be aware of the costs
Of course, the long-term plan is to operate your business with the least of effort or expense. In the short-term though this may involve some expenditure. New technology or training for your team on new systems and processes or perhaps even the need to recruit can be costly. A simple cost-benefit analysis will help you to see if the costs outweigh the long-term benefits. This, in turn, will help you to prioritise which changes to introduce first.
Implementing changes is always best when you communicate them to those around you, let them know why you are introducing new systems. For example; If you are planning to move the business to cloud-based computing, then you should tell your employees the reason for it. I.e. The reason is to allow for flexible working and greater collaboration, this will help to allay the fear of change. Getting across the message that digitisation brings a host of new opportunities will help ease your workforce into the change process.
Addressing the process of digitisation in your business with a holistic approach is the only way to ensure that you move at a pace which is right for both you and your customers.