SMEs must embrace digital transformation

Leveraging existing and emerging technologies can help boost business outcomes, to stay competitive and achieve sustainable growth
SMEs must embrace digital transformation
SME Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has been the buzz word for many years, especially for big business. However, SMEs stand to gain as much from digital transformation. It can prove beneficial not just in improving business processes, but also in enhancing customer experiences and, eventually, in contributing to better bottom lines.

In the UAE, start-ups and small business owners know emerging digital technologies can be a boon for business. A survey conducted by YouGov among decision-makers in small- and medium-sized enterprises showed that digital transformation efforts could boost operational efficiencies and leverage technologies to better customer experience.

Meanwhile, a Mastercard study on SMEs in the Middle East and Africa region reported that digitalization will be key to unlocking growth for small businesses and it is essential to staying competitive in a transformed business and economic environment.

Keeping it simple


Digital transformation can be a complex process, but it does not have to be complicated. The best way for SMEs to start is to take small steps and begin with simple problems that can be digitized or automated. Identifying pain points within the organization that can be resolved by technology or looking at processes that can be simplified through an online platform can be a good starting point. This is digital transformation in action, however simple.

For many, starting with a digital strategy is the best way. Some SMEs may not require such a high-level strategy in the beginning, just a simple initiative that can kick-start their digital transformation journey. That said, it’s always good to have a strategy in place from the get-go, which should include what technologies the organization wants to integrate into their businesses, and the resources that will be needed to implement the digitalization process.

Seek and select


Budgets are definitely a major consideration for small businesses. But the investment will be totally worth it. Digital transformation initiatives have been shown to increase agility in organisations and improve turnover, among other benefits.

Spend some time doing some research on what is currently available in the market. Check out a number of suppliers within a specific budget range, but do not hesitate to look at anything beyond the set budget just to see what features and functionalities are being offered that might be interesting to consider in the foreseeable future.

Remember, this is a process, and it doesn’t end with one investment. Technologies change, and they do so at faster speeds these days. Once a technology solution or product is chosen, prepare to adopt and onboard.

It takes a village


There is a famous African adage that says it takes a village to raise a child. In the case of technology adoption, it takes the whole company or organization to make digital transformation a success. A transformation initiative in one department will have repercussions across the entire business, both in terms of disruptions and beneficial outcomes. It is important to get everyone on the same page about the process and to be supportive of the entire journey. This will also eventually help build a strong digital culture within the organization.

Establish  metrics


To ensure the success of any initiative, KPIs must be set. This will help measure the effectiveness of the technology that has been chosen to address particular problem, and also evaluate its impact on the organization as a whole, not just terms of business process and customer experiences, but also its bottom lines.

Setting up metrics also allows business owners to track the progress of their digital transformation journey – to use it as a reference for future plans and initiatives or to share with others to inspire other entrepreneurs and SMEs to get them started on their own digital transformation initiatives.