Businesses yet to tap into full potential of digital transformation

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Less than 7 percent of small and midsized businesses (SMB) have gone beyond integration to derive real-time insights that resulted in business results, says a new IDC study commissioned by SAP on the state of digital transformation.

Many SMBs do see value in digital transformation however, though many are investing for more immediate gains.

Digital transformation and marketers

The IDC study was intended to reveal the state of digital transformation among SMBs and its potential benefits. Among others, this can include increased sales, decreased costs, ease of information access and improved customer service and productivity, many of which SMBs have yet to fully realize.

The report was derived from an online survey completed in November 2016, which saw responses from 3,904 small and midsize business decision makers in 13 countries around the world – including Singapore.

Though digital transformation isn’t typically within the purview of the CMO, senior marketers are often running against organizational and process limitations as they attempt to pivot and implement the requisite changes to support new marketing initiatives. This is hence of interest to them.

The findings

The survey found that SMBs are taking a “practical and tactical” approach to digital transformation. Indeed, almost 44 percent are investing in technology to make an immediate difference in supporting current processes. Those who embraced and invested in technology reaped benefits that helped them to compete globally. 

Use of collaborative software, customer relationship management (CRM) and e-commerce applications is widespread among SMBs. The applications often serve as the first points of entry to digital transformation. One in three smaller firms polled said that they preferred that these applications be delivered through the cloud.

For sure, the use of the cloud for implementation has made digital transformation simpler for smaller companies, with two in five stating that the rollout of their first solution was either easier than expected, or took no extra effort.

It was found that more than one-third (34%) of respondents have dedicated additional budget, staff and resources to digital transformation, ensuring that SMBs will be able to flourish as the digital economy grows.

Recognizing the benefits

SMBs around the glove are increasingly recognizing the benefits of digital transformation and continue to add advanced technology resources, noted Ray Boggs, vice president of small and medium business research at IDC. He observed though, that the challenge lies in connecting different technology areas for maximum impact.

“SMBs in Asia Pacific and Japan are at an inflection point with the need to digitally transform their businesses in order to stay competitive and maintain, if not increase market share in the digital economy,” said Boggs.

“Going digital and implementing new enterprise-grade solutions can help SMBs build and reinvent themselves for improved efficiency and long term growth in today’s fact paced and changing business landscape,” he said.

Further reading:

Digital transformation starts with a digital mindset

The marketer and successful digital transformation

How CMOs can make the transition to digital