IT and digital technology are ever more important in running a business. With so much variety and so many things to know, it can easily be daunting.
One thing that many business leaders struggle with is the perceived cost of digital transformation. You may see the variety of options and worry about how much it’ll cost. However, you’ve already got so many untapped opportunities.
Digital transformation for businesses
Pretty much every business will involve some IT. Maybe it’s just a computer and emails you use for admin, but you can still grow your business with digital transformation.
Digital transformation focuses on three key areas of change that can be made:
- Operational efficiency
- Customer experience
Look at how you can implement tech across your entire business. The main goal is just like any change to a business: improve growth by reducing costs and increasing income.
Cut down on waste
One option for improving your business’s growth is making it more cost effective. Finding out where you’re spending money that you don’t need to means you have more available for something actually useful.
Business’s IT systems tend to grow organically, meaning that it’s a source of waste for many businesses. An important first step of any digital transformation is to create a list of everything your business uses, how you use it, and what functions it has that you aren’t using.
Compare the contents of the lists, and you may find that there’s an overlap between two solutions where one has some function that covers the other. If you’re paying for an unnecessary licence, that’s money that could be better used.
Sometimes, a solution works well for your business at the start, but you outgrow it. It can be hard to let go of a software you’re familiar with, but it may just not function anymore. An update can help speed up your workflow and become more efficient.
Removing redundant and legacy systems will free up your budget and make your business more efficient. However, it’s worth remembering, that if you aren’t the one using the software, get feedback from the people who do before making any decisions.
For example, it could seem wasteful to use one design software when you’re already paying for something else that could do it. However, your designers may tell you that the one they don’t use is avoided for a reason.
Improve how you communicate
Many customers want to get hold of businesses quickly. Few want to spend time left on hold, waiting for a customer support operator. Likewise, no one likes being inundated with marketing emails for a product they’ve already bought.
It’s worth considering if your marketing process could be better. If you were using a solution that linked sales to marketing, you could use it to build a dynamic marketing campaign that adapts to an individual’s purchases.
Marketing has massive potential for automation. Social media can be linked and automated to create a uniform brand message, while mailing lists can send massed communication that seems individualised.
One way that you could improve your website, you could add a chat function or even a chat-bot. This would speed up the customer service and could even filter our lower level tickets without involving any actual people.
It’s common for a business to only use emails to communicate internally. More recently, many have started using one remote video call service as well. However, there are more options available that can make communication much more seamless.
It may be that the solutions you already use could already ease your business’s communications. This could be as simple as changing the format that data is communicated so that it’s the same across all systems. This can save time on data reentry so that it works in a different software.
Some solutions have a function that automatically sends notifications on the completion of a task, freeing up supervisors or improving cross-department communications. For example, an automated system could send sales data across to marketing so they can see in real-time how their lead generation is working.
3. Use your data for growth
Businesses always build up data over time. Your unused data could provide you with opportunities to grow your business. Combining your customer data could be used to make accurate consumer profiles or could be used in making statistical models.
Strategic planning involves trying to make decisions based on your best guess. It’s impossible to know what the future will bring, no matter your experience. Still, a Board has to make a choice.
Using your existing data, you could make a model that predicts trends and patterns with a higher degree of reliability than people can manage. The analysis of your model’s output can be useful when planning to reduce risk or highlight opportunities.
You could start modelling how your market evolves as your customers get older to see what they need to keep them engaged. Statistical modelling could identify useful overlaps or gaps in your market for diversification purposes. It could also be used to test how your customers may react to the changes involved in a strategy.
If your business doesn’t gather much data, consider what more information you could keep. If nothing else, it can help you to understand your business’s customers. Markets will keep evolving over time, and it’s possible that you no longer know who it is you’re selling to.
Growing your business digitally
Growing your business needs you to do two things: spend more efficiently and make more money. The digital technology in your business offers you opportunities for both of these.
Digital transformation doesn’t mean buying lots of new toys. It really can be as simple as having a digital review. There are probably many ways you could be using your current tech and data better.
If you want to be more digital, without splashing out needlessly, there are plenty of ways to cut down waste and make use of your data. All you need to do is understand where you stand and where you want to go. You may benefit from the support of a part-time IT Director to figure this out with a flexible contract that suits your business.
About The Author
This Article written by John Courtney. He is Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.
John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.
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