BUSINESS BYTES

How SMBs should embrace the digital transformation to stay competitive

  • Posted 2 years ago
  • 4 min read

The UK’s local business community is made up of entrepreneurs who have the difficult task of balancing the multiple roles and business requirements that fall under their remit. In many micro businesses, HR, finance, sales and IT are all looked after by the business owner. So how much specialist knowledge can that one person be expected to have? This article will look at how small businesses can work out the best systems and solutions to suit their business, allowing them to grow and expand. 

Understanding the skills gap 

Technology is one area of expertise that has become increasingly crucial for smaller firms. The digital transformation has affected most aspects of modern life, especially from a business perspective. From daily admin processes and workflows to optimising content, small businesses need to make optimal use of the technologies available to remain competitive in their markets. 

For many SMB and SoHo owners, the reasons for delaying technology upgrades can be extremely varied. Whether it’s cost, need, lack of technical resources or lack of knowledge about a new product or technology, all of these issues mean that technology purchasing decisions are delayed and become deprioritised. However time spent planning is seldom wasted and it’s important for SMB and SoHos to prioritise time for finding the right technology solutions to remain competitive and efficient in the future. 

More than a third (33 per cent) of SMB / SoHo owners in the UK said they lacked skills with IT software when they first started their businesses, according to research from Canon. The same amount said they needed more knowledge in IT hardware. 

It might be unsurprising that technical awareness is low amongst entrepreneurial business owners, but the skills gap could lead to long-term problems. Modern businesses, whatever their size or sector, run on technology – and that reliance on IT is only likely to increase. 

However, 24 per cent of UK small business owners believe they already spend too much time on IT-related tasks. Thankfully, the challenge of IT management is not intractable. Rather than seeing technology-led change as a barrier, smart small business owners will view the digital transformation as a way to reduce the amount of time spent on technology and a means to improve productivity. 

Overcoming the transformation challenge 

Some SMB and SoHo owners might be concerned that, unlike larger businesses, they do not have access to a large amount of dedicated technology infrastructure. Ten years ago, a lack of in-house resources might have been an issue that prevented a smaller firm from scaling up and meeting new demand quickly. Now, however, the digital transformation has enabled a change in resourcing. Just like larger businesses, SMBs and SoHos can call upon cloud services to expand their IT resources as business demands change; the bonus for small firms comes in the form of a lack of pre-existing IT investment. 

Unlike larger businesses that will be encumbered by legacy IT systems, smaller firms will often have the opportunity to build their technology strategy from the ground up. Rather than having to worry about managing an in-house storage system and a set of business applications, SMB owners can go to the cloud and procure the services they need on-demand. 

In light of these challenges, small businesses must consider the follow five key areas when selecting the right solutions for their business: 

1. Clarity – Services should be precise, clearly answering the need you have 

2. Simplicity – The solution you choose should allow you to spend less time on IT management, not more 

3. Security – Services should maintain a top level of security, keeping information safe 

4. Reliability – External service providers that you choose should be able to guarantee a specific level of service, which should be outlined in your agreement 

5. Sustainability – Make sure you that if circumstances change you can easily and safely remove data 

Small business owners who can cover these five areas will be in a great position to transform their business operations for the better, reducing the amount of time spent on technology and improving productivity. Rather than worrying about any shortages with in-house IT skills, small firms will be able to transform their business operations for the better. 

This article originally appeared on Bdaily

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