It’s time SMEs put digital transformation into action

Digital transformation is not just about replacing the old with the new. It is about harnessing technology to create a culture that will enhance every aspect of an organisation. It involves reshaping and redefining businesses from the ground up and pulling together all parts of the business towards a single goal.  This year, SMEs must take bold steps to put their digital transformation plans into concrete action that will ensure their business survive and thrive against disruptions in the era of digital. According to Capgemini Consulting, companies that become digital enterprises can look forward to a 26 percent increase in profitability, a 12 percent increase in valuation, and a 9 percent increase in revenue to asset ratio. The Singapore government has created the new Government Technology Agency to help drive digital transformation in the public sector, underscoring the importance of technology innovation in both public and private sector. How can local SMEs embrace this notion and incorporate what may seem as a far-reaching idea into their business processes?

Align for agile delivery  

In order to react quickly to market changes and exploit opportunities, SMEs need to remain agile. This includes adopting continuous development cycles that inspire incremental improvements, balancing between speed and quality of innovation. SMEs must roll out digital platforms and put processes in place that will allow them to continually refine existing products and seamlessly rollout new initiatives without impacting core operations or customer experiences.  This helps create the conditions for companies to lead with entries into the marketplace, delivering customer value faster. Titansoft[1], an SME in Singapore, having observed the need to improve employee retention and reduce product downtime, saw an opportunity for change. It changed its organisation structure and realigned employees on how it defined ownership for individuals and teams so that they are able to deliver software faster for their customers[2].

Delivering the best customer experience

In the digital age, information and close collaboration are keys to delivering superior customer experience.  Employees must not only have access to information quickly and easily but also be able to tap into shared knowledge in the organisation. Technology has made this much easier to achieve today. The right workplace culture will also play a role in attracting and retaining the best talents. Successful businesses today empower their workforce by ensuring that every employee has access to the information and resources required to perform their tasks from day one, as well as the feedback and training required to continually grow and learn. To achieve this, SMEs should adopt dynamic technology solutions that make professional development, transparency and relationship-building integral aspects of the workplace culture. Contemporary fashion brand Esprit uses an enterprise image sharing platform called Foko to help employees collaborate more efficiently with respect to implementing visual merchandising strategies at each retail location. This allows merchandisers to efficiently disseminate and deploy updated visual merchandising guidelines to regional store employees, a task that had previously been both time-consuming and resource intensive. Making use of effective sharing solutions can increase the collective knowledge of an organisation and after which, help employees feel that they are key stakeholders in the overall success of the organisation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, digital transformation is no longer the realm of large enterprises but also SMEs looking to thrive and grow in the new business landscape. Organisations across all industries need to know how to harness the power of digital technologies to create new and disruptive business models. According to IDC, by 2020, 50 percent of the G2000 companies will see the majority of their business depend on their ability to create digitally-enhanced products, services, and experiences[3]. Becoming a digital enterprise is not a plan for the future; it is a transformation that SMEs need to be making now. Organisations that are not digitally empowered will soon be unable to compete. Only those businesses who embrace a new mind-set to protect and preserve their existing infrastructure while investing in new digital technologies will reshape markets, deliver apps and services at hyper scale and become the leaders of the new digital industry. 

Sidebar Tips

  • Promote common DevOps tool chains across all project and application teams to minimise “tool clutter”.
  • Consider updating operational technologies and processes to handle high-velocity application release.
  • Remember to incorporate traditional data sources and KPIs together with new sources such as social media and machine-generated data to gain a complete, well-rounded view of your organisation’s performance.
  • Ensure business users and nontechnical folks can easily determine the lineage of the data so they have a high level of trust in the information.
  • Focus on how you enable productivity at “minute one” on the new employee’s start day.

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