Werner Herbst, General manager, enterprise compute, Tarsus Distribution
The COVID-19 crisis is accelerating digital transformation because digitised processes deliver opportunities for value creation that go way beyond cost savings.
Although some SMB CEOs may still view digital transformation as the preserve of large companies, today’s digital platforms and infrastructure are accessible, affordable, and provide critical opportunities for innovation for medium businesses operating in a challenging economy.
Already pressed for technology resources and capital, many business leaders see digital transformation as an exercise in buying a lot of expensive technology. The reality is that in an increasingly competitive market, moving to the digital world can be an enormous advantage that need not cost the earth. More importantly, it is about survival.
SMBs that are stepping up their digital transformation efforts are doing so because of the current crisis. They are witnessing how digitisation of processes enables cost reduction, improved customer intimacy and higher productivity levels. The need to be more cost-efficient is probably the single most compelling reason for SMBs to embrace digital transformation. Other key benefits they can expect are increased operational excellence, and enhanced business growth as a result of improved efficiencies.
Future-proofing the SMB
In a policy document by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ‘The digital transformation of SMEs’, the authors cautioned that the gap between SMEs and larger firms is more pronounced than ever in the adoption of more advanced technologies. This is despite the many advantages they offer: Digitalisation reduces transaction costs by providing better and quicker access to information, and communication between staff, suppliers and networks…It also supports innovation, and greater access to innovation assets, as well as the potential for firms to generate data and analyse their own operations in new ways, to drive improved performance.”
Understanding that affordability is relative, it is advisable for SMBs to undertake the process of comparing their current state to their desired future state, and then identify how they will bridge the gap. As difficult as it may be to embrace the attractiveness of future value when it comes to technology, that gap analysis may be the first step in understanding how imperative it is becoming for SMBs to make the move to digital in the interests of future-proofing their business.
The security issue
It’s also important to note that the move to remote working necessitated by the pandemic has left many SMBs vulnerable to the increasing number of cyber-attacks that are taking advantage of weaknesses in older systems. Choosing the right digital systems, upgrading digital skills and embracing the potential of new technologies are key to empowering SMB to protect their data from hackers. The cost of a breach can be devastating to many of them.
While accelerating the adoption of digital transformation may seem overwhelming, the transition can be eased by obtaining the right advice, support and guidance from reliable partners and trusted advisors who can help to smooth the journey.