"Digital transformation" is a phrase we've all heard before, but there's often an assumption that it's only for industry giants and global enterprises.
This isn't the case at all. Digital transformation has become more important than ever - even for small businesses - in a fast-paced, highly changeable world. Dell Technologies' recent Institute for the Future research found that by 2030, every organisation will be a technology organisation.
Small businesses can no longer afford to take a back seat with their technology, particularly as competition increases and becomes more advanced.
Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, making up 97.4 per cent of total businesses in the region, so it's essential that they thrive. Without small businesses, we'd all suffer.
Charting the digital future
Going digital won't just help your business remain competitive, it will also improve your customer offerings, and attract and retain a new audience. But that's not all - going digital has a range of benefits for you and your customers.
It means that you can connect to your business at any time, provide a stronger customer service experience through insights from data, and can change the way your customers talk to you and about you online, and on social media.
It can even help you better forecast your future earnings and profitability.
If you're not thinking about your digital future, you run the risk of being left behind.
The good news is that emerging technology like cloud-based services, IoT and AI are becoming more affordable, intuitive and portable, making going digital a much simpler prospect than ever before. And they can be implemented without a team of IT experts and large budgets.
The technology of today is for everyone - and support for those looking to implement tech solutions is easily accessible.
With managed service providers opening the door to small businesses wanting to experiment with new tech, they now have ability to focus on both digital transformation and business growth.
One in three small businesses in Australia are trailing behind the digital business curve defined in Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index. But it's not too late to change, and there are plenty of opportunities for small businesses to start their digital transformation.
So, what does being a digital business mean?
Despite the impressive catchphrase, digital transformation is simpler than it sounds. The process is all about putting digital at the heart of everything you do. Here's how your business can achieve this goal.
1. Plan for the future
You need robust tools in place that will let you communicate with your customers quickly, efficiently and securely. Setting these up as a priority will make sure you have a direct line to your customers when you need it, and that you're not left behind. With 30 per cent of Australian business leaders believing they'll struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years, it's important to start planning for the future now.
2. Streamline the admin
There are many apps, programs and services already available to you that can help with managing payroll, invoicing and other routine tasks. They might be relatively simple tasks, but they take up time - and even saving yourself the pain of constantly switching between spreadsheets can mean more time and money for what really matters in your business.
3. Get on board the AI train
Artificial Intelligence has come a long way in the last decade and is now more accessible and more affordable than ever - even for small businesses. Increasingly, we're seeing small businesses using AI on a smaller scale to improve customer service and make better informed business decisions. AI-powered chat bots have the ability to provide a personal touch to your online customer service and help your audience find exactly what they need. Meanwhile, AI data analytics can reveal powerful insights about your audience allowing you to make better business decisions. Investing in this technology will help grow your business potential.
4. Remember that your audience is on the move
Your customers expect great service no matter what device they're on - but the ways that they use those devices are changing. Increasingly, customers are using their mobiles to make purchases, with the preference for mobile purchases growing by 58 per cent in 2017, and continuing to grow year-on-year. If your audience isn't already buying on a smartphone or tablet, they soon will be, so making sure your website and content is optimised for a mobile audience is essential. It's a simple step that can lead to new visitors and higher sales conversion.
5. Attract the best and brightest of the next generation
Dell Technologies' recent study of Gen Z and their interests revealed that 73 per cent of young people aged 16-23 want to work with cutting-edge technology in their future careers. In fact, a further 83 per cent said that the technology offered by an employer would be a key factor in choosing their next job. The candidates for the jobs of the future are ambitious, tech-savvy and agile - your business needs to keep up to attract the best candidates.
6. Reach for the remote
Remote work is on the rise in Australia, and your staff will expect flexibility. Integrating technologies like cloud solutions opens up your business potential, with easy access enabling work from any location. With recent McCrindle research finding that half of Australian employees would accept a lower salary if they could work from home, it's important that your business listens and adapts to the needs of your workers.
Embracing the digital future is essential to overcoming the future challenges your business will face, from increased competition to attracting new audiences. With the technology currently available, all small businesses have the opportunity to adopt a digital-first approach and strengthen their offering, creating better service, experiences and excitement for their customers.
Call your Dell Small Business Technology Advisor today on 1800 812 392.
- Ben Jackson is General Manager, Consumer and Small Business, with Dell Australia and New Zealand. Dell is a commercial partner of the Future Focus project.