More and more, digital transformation is becoming necessary for companies of all sizes to stay relevant. That used to only be true for small startups looking to keep nimble. Then it became true for large enterprises that didn’t want to buckle under their own organizational weight. Now it is true for SMBs too.
However, small and medium businesses tend to shy away from digital transformations more often than they should. They might see the value in a digital transformation but feel intimidated by the size or cost of the undertaking. Or they may just not be sure which approach is best to take.
So what does an SMB digital transformation look like? Why are they essential for companies planning for the future? What digital transformation challenges can SMBs expect to encounter, and what solutions are available for overcoming them?
Why SMBs are Wary of Digital Transformation Obstacles
Most large enterprises are full steam ahead on their digital transformations. For them, transformations are all upsides. For small and medium businesses, the stakes can be very different.
- Their technology budgets might be stretched thin already.
- They might not have a steady enough cash flow to see a major project through to completion.
- Customer service complaints resulting from issues in transition can have a significant impact on revenue.
- They may worry about staff buying into new processes.
And yet, digital transformations are still essential for SMBs.
Digital transformations don’t have to be all-consuming projects, and they definitely shouldn’t be something SMBs fear. A transformation carried out well can deliver a great deal of value to any small business. For example:
- Digital Transformations Integrate Business Systems: One of the core functions of a digital transformation is to introduce integrated IT tools into every essential business operation. Then, connect those integrated systems to streamline workflows between operational units and provide deeper insight into how well those activities are completed. When you connect business services, like inventory management, accounting, and customer service, you break down administrative silos that build up over time in any organization. For example, you can centralize your inventory database, so your accounting and warehouse teams always look at the same data. No more cross-system errors or human entry mistakes.
- They Encourage Collaboration: Breaking down silos through digital transformation also better connects the people within your organization. Digital transformations are more likely to succeed if you encourage collaboration from the outset. Bring together stakeholders throughout your organization when you’re still in the planning stage. Any business team that might benefit from your transformation should have a voice. Collect their requirements and concerns, and make sure you account for them in your transformation plan.
- They Simplify Work: Many SMBs shy away from a digital transformation because they assume it means introducing new, complex IT into the workplace. Not so. A well-run digital transformation should streamline the technology you use. It will consolidate many redundant systems into a single, unified platform. You will be able to train operational staff on fewer tools. Your support staff will also have fewer to maintain. As a result, workflows will be simplified, which can significantly impact small business operations.
- They Connect Every Layer of Your Organization: A digital transformation doesn’t just provide tools for operational staff. It will also benefit supervisors, directors and executives in their day-to-day lives, especially if you consolidate systems using service management software. Supervisors will gain access to informative daily reports. Directors will get powerful performance analytics tools. Executives will gain a better 30,000-foot view from all of this valuable, new business intelligence. Each layer of your organization will benefit and be able to work together more closely.
Top 3 Obstacles to Successful Digital Transformations—and How to Overcome Them
The benefits of a digital transformation are clear, yet many SMBs fail to see theirs to completion. These are the three digital transformation obstacles that we’ve seen SMBs struggle with the most. Fortunately, there are reliable solutions to each.
1. Lack of a strategic plan: Many digital transformations fall apart because the new systems the company tries to implement don’t align with how they operate or with their business objectives. Remember: a good digital transformation shouldn’t force you to change the way you work. Instead, it should make the way you work even better.
Solution: Get those stakeholders involved early and often. If you don’t already have a strategic plan for your SMB when they get together, then step one of your digital transformation should be making that plan.
Once you have a plan in place, get those stakeholders back together and figure out what you need to transform in your current operations to meet your new goals. Once those things are determined, you should look at transformational technologies, like IT Service Management (ITSM) software. With your goals set first, you’re more likely to find the one that fits your SMB’s particular needs.
2. Employee pushback: People don’t like change. That is a fact of life. Your employees may push back against a digital transformation simply because it represents a change in their routines.
Solution: Seek employee buy-in starting in the planning stage of your digital transformation. Get input from representatives of all operational business units that will need to use your new systems.
Then also include plenty of training opportunities along the way. For example, when operational staff see how easy ITSM software makes requesting new services, they’ll be much more likely to make use of it. Likewise, supervisors and managers will be much more likely to stick to new processes when they see the insights they can gain on company performance using ITSM reporting tools.
3. Tight budgets: SMBs frequently struggle with having the funds necessary for significant capital projects, like digital transformations. Budgets are tight. Revenue streams can be volatile.
Solution: Find a solution built for the needs and budgets of SMBs. Consider using ITSM software as a service that allows you to distribute costs over time. You’ll only pay for the amount you use each month. Scale up or down as your budget permits.
Support your Digital Transformation with ITSM
IT service management software can help you overcome many digital transformation obstacles. For example, you can give your team robust service desk tools like automated asset management, comprehensive service catalogs and powerful change management workflows. Want to learn more? Reach out to C2!