Companies’ resilience is being tested as never before. Those that have consciously created digital competencies to deal with uncertainty and unpredictability are more likely to succeed as the business world becomes increasingly challenging.

Digital transformation has been a buzzword for some time, and with the pandemic pressuring SMBs to speed up their digital initiatives, it has gone from a useful tool to an inseparable component of company strategy, practically overnight.

What we have learned
2020 demonstrated that companies which made technology investments at the beginning of the pandemic were better off in the long run. The past two years have confirmed that the organisations with the best odds of surviving and growing are those who have either digitalised a substantial portion of their operating model or can do so quickly.

The lessons learned from this is that business leaders must decide how and when to invest in technology, what to prioritise, and how to enhance their overall digital muscle in order to successfully implement a digital strategy that instils resilience throughout every aspect of their business.

Building resilience must be intentional
According to PwC, the pace of change and continued uncertainty in business is unrelenting. Companies need to be able to pivot fast and tackle change wisely: “It starts with a holistic view of digital, one that sits at the intersection of business, experience and technology…Operationalise it by investing and leading in a way that gives your organisation a mindset of continuous learning. That way, you can focus on the best ideas to drive business and can adapt in order to become more essential.”

SMB leaders also have to accept the fact that digital transformation does not have a start and an end point, nor can it happen on a project-by-project basis – it’s about equipping employees with the tools and skills they need to adapt, expand and create opportunities from ongoing uncertainty and change. To borrow from Simon Sinek, this is an infinite journey and should not be treated as a finite task.

Adopting a digital mindset
A digital mindset is vital for every type of organisation – from start-up to traditional SMB. For leaders, having a digital mindset means being constantly on the lookout for ways to introduce digital technology to their role, their people, and their organisation.

According to Harvard Business Publishing, a digital way of thinking does not have to be earth shattering; instead, small, incremental changes can make a real difference in the way people work, and add true value to the business: “for marketing, this could mean turning reams of data into actionable insights that make for better targeting of prospects. For HR, it might be coming up with a way to improve the onboarding process when so many employees are working from home. For customer support, having a digital mindset could translate into offering customers new ways to find help.”

Curiosity is key. An organisation-wide interest in big data, artificial intelligence (AI), total experience (TX), social media, extended reality (XR) and other emerging technologies is essential. A willingness to learn and an openness to what is happening in the broader world can help to shift an organisation and its people into the digital mindset.

This type of thinking naturally implies creativity, flexibility and adaptability, all of which contribute to the greater goal of resilience – ensuring that SMBs are confident and ready for any eventuality.