In the age of disruption, it is essential for SMEs to keep up-to-date with the latest technology trends and prepare the right strategy to surpass any digital transformation that is bound to happen. This is especially true in these uncertain times were your stakeholders may be full of questions at every turn.
When you read about businesses embracing the Internet of Things, you can gather two key conclusions at the same time. First, it tells you that technology focused on protecting and maintaining the health of your enterprise is of paramount importance. Secondly, it helps paint a picture of what "digital transformation" actually means in a modern context. If you’re not currently ready for what the IoT will bring to the table, you’d better start.
This is just one example of a trend that helps to shed light on what the future of digital transformation for SMEs will be. If you really want to make the most of this process when the time comes, there are a few essential things to keep in mind.
1. Analytics Are About to Become Critically Important
As previously mentioned, the Internet of Things is going to play a huge role in SME digital transformation moving forward and this is not something that is up for debate. The implications are even more important to think about — particularly when you consider the massive volumes of data that IoT devices are already creating.
In order to truly understand what this data is trying to tell you and unlock the key insights hidden beneath those numbers, analytical tools play a critical role and are about to become the functional foundation of your digital transformation efforts in the near future. The data alone doesn’t matter as much as how you use that data to fuel your strategy and that will mean the difference between success and failure.
To get a better idea of how important analytics is, consider the example of one company that was able to reduce the cost of managing its fleet of more than 180,000 trucks from 15 cents per mile to just 3 cents per mile.
2. You’re About to Become Even More Mobile Than You Already Are
Another major part of SME digital transformation will involve the IoT forcing a massive push to the "edge" of cloud computing — meaning your enterprise is about to become even more mobile than it already is.
In the next year alone, we’ve seen significant jumps in terms of mobile speeds with Gigabit LTE. We’re truly not far off from an era where the physical building that your business operates in will become totally irrelevant to its ongoing success — and this is something that we need to start getting ready for today. Mobility is the key to digital transformation in the future, but how you lay the groundwork for it will determine whether you maintain competitive advantage in your marketplace, or find yourself left behind.
3. AI Is More Accessible Than Ever
Another major part of the future of digital transformation for SMEs will take the form of artificial intelligence — just not the way you might think. AI has become more accessible, and even small businesses are already putting it to good use in a number of innovative ways.
Imagine a scenario where one of your customers has a problem with their account. They open a chat window on their computer screen. They discuss the problem with a live agent, who provides them with all of the relevant information and helps solve the problem. Only that agent isn’t "live" at all — it’s an AI-powered chat bot that just solved the customer’s issue in a personal, satisfying way.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the implications that artificial intelligence has in store for us all.
4. Everything Is Now About Being Proactive
Another one of the most important trends in terms of digital transformation involves a major, permanent shift in your perspective. We’re quickly entering into an era where NOTHING about your business can be reactionary. It’s not enough to hedge your bets on any element of running your organisation. "Waiting to see what happens" will just not cut it anymore. Not in terms of your products and services, not in terms of how you interact with your customers, not in terms of the digital resources that you embrace, and especially not in terms of cybersecurity.
To that last point, remember that a new law in Australia will now fine businesses roughly $1.8 million for failing to disclose a data breach to the public in a timely manner — and this is on top of the actual cost that the data breach may figure in the first place.
When you consider that experts agree that this law will likely make businesses a more attractive target to hackers than they already are, it’s easy to see why it’s no longer acceptable to wait to get attacked and then try to mitigate the damage.
Instead, you need to take a proactive approach and forecast the risk instead. This same, forward-thinking mentality is something that you must adopt in every area of your business moving forward.
5. Digital Transformation as a Self Fulfilling Prophecy
Finally, and most importantly, we arrive at the concept of digital transformation itself. From a certain perspective, the key to success for digital transformation in SMEs lies in the willingness to take the leap necessary to get things moving.
Let’s face facts: disruption is already happening in the modern business market and will continue to do so over the next few years. Every industry will be affected. There is no business model that is strong enough to resist that change. There is no audience loyal enough to justify your unwillingness to continue to push your organisation forward.
Digital transformation is not something that you can just do once and then forget about. It is a continuous process that will likely never end. If you’re not already talking with your MSP about how to support ongoing (and permanent) digital transformation efforts, you absolutely should — and fast.
Powernet: Making the Most of Your Digital Transformation
At Powernet, we understand how naturally difficult the digital transformation process can be — even when things are going as well as they possibly can. Change is something that brings with it a certain amount of anxiety, but when you’ve taken the appropriate steps necessary to make sure that your technology is aligned with your long-term business objectives, it can and should bring with it a great deal of excitement at the exact same time.
If you’d like to find out more about the key considerations that you’ll need to make in terms of your future digital transformation efforts, or if you’d just like to learn more about how a managed service provider can help guide your SME through this time, contact Powernet today.