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Why Small Businesses Must go Digital to Compete

7/11/18 11:32 AM

In the digital age, small businesses are changing the way they do business. With the majority of consumers having proficiency with smartphones, high-speed wifi, and access to practically anything at their fingertips; the expectation for companies to go digital is higher now than ever before. Technology has quickly changed the way we work by automating tasks that were once performed by humans. Going digital also changes the way that we do business, by effortlessly connecting us with other businesses and consumers on opposite sides of the world from where our business is based. For small businesses to be able to compete with larger businesses the question is not “will we go digital?” The question is “When will we go digital?”

The Singapore government has put great stock in small and medium-sized businesses going digital. In his 2017 budget speech, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the government’s commitment to helping small and medium-sized businesses and enterprises (SMEs) go digital. The government injected $80 Million into grants to help Singaporean businesses with fewer than 200 employees embrace tech. The government reiterated its commitment to the cause in this year's budget by pledging more money and updating its digital business support initiatives. You don’t need a substantial budget in order to digitize your business, however, you do need employees that are open to being challenged and are enthusiastic about technology.

Everything and everyone is going digital, which means that your business needs to cater to this new digital age or you are going to fall behind your competitors, which could be detrimental to your business. Here are five reasons why your company needs to consider digitalization:

1. Automation

By implementing automation into your company’s infrastructure you are allowing your employees to focus their time and energy on smaller, more skilled tasks. An example of a program that you can bring in to make automation easier is Julie Desk, a digital personal assistant who schedules meetings by email. By freeing up your employees' time spent doing tasks, such as scheduling, and other tasks that can be automated, you are allowing your employees time on projects more specific to their skill sets.


2. Data Analytics 

Having a platform in place to analyze the data that your business produces is one less task that your employees will have to use their time to figure out. Platforms such as Hubspot take in any interactions others have with material that your company puts out and provide graphs and charts of the data for your company. Louis Columbus, a tech contributor for Forbes says, “Machine learning is proving to be efficient at handling predictive tasks including defining which behaviors have the highest propensity to drive desired sales and marketing outcomes.” 

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3. Going Paperless

Use data-sharing technology, such as Google Drive to work on group tasks and reduce your paper waste. Small businesses can become more efficient, avoiding mislaid paperwork or mistakes that can arise from illegible handwriting, by relying on a digital platform to house all of their documents. Not only will housing your documents on a digital platform improves communication, but it will also increase opportunities for collaboration.


4. Virtual Office 

Tying into going paperless, the digital platform allows you to virtually collaborate with your employees and peers, creating a virtual office. Being able to collaborate online allows the ability to perform at peak proficiency without wasting time. The concept of a typical 9 to 5 workday goes out the window with a digital, cloud-based platform. Many employees will have the ability to work at different times and in the comfort of their own homes. And with the ability to access information from anywhere, at any time, companies are virtually able to operate 24 hours a day. 


5. Meeting Customer Expectations 

According to Microsoft Business, customers are expecting faster services from businesses, and are often expecting to interact with businesses digitally. Every business has an app nowadays, allowing consumers to have very little human interaction. You can do everything from paying bills, depositing checks, and ordering food from the comfort of your home from your phone. This is the expectation from customers is that your business provides this ability and that it is fast. 

However, small businesses should not rush digitalization for the sake of providing a business model that consumers are yearning for, this could lead to inefficiencies. Before adoption, Canon suggests that you look at these five key areas to make sure which digital solutions are right for your company:

  • Clarity: Be clear on what you need digital implementation for. Whatever you implement should answer a specific need within your company.
  • Simplicity: The solution should make less work for IT, not more. It should also be simple for consumers to use.
  • Security: When opening your company up to the digital world, you need to make sure that whatever programs you are using are secure and maintain a top level of security.
  • Sustainability: Will this program last? If the digital platform you implement becomes obsolete, the data must be adaptable to whatever new technology comes along.

Adopting digital technology into your business is a great way to open your company up to newer and better opportunities. Not only will going digital make operations run smoother, but it will also free up your employees to focus on tasks that will increase productivity.

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