In our 2012 Deloitte report, Digital Disruption: Short Fuse, Big Bang? [i] we found that one third of the Australian economy faces a dramatic change in revenue sources within the next three years. The report emphasised that businesses need to elevate their digital strategies to avoid becoming digital ‘road kill’.
In the 18 months since that report, there is little sign that the four key forces driving the change have abated. Indeed, there is every sign the pace of change is accelerating. These four forces are collectively driving new opportunities and posing new risks.
- Digital Consumerisation: which promises greater productivity by integrating personally-paid-for technology with work technology and creating opportunities for increased usability, availability and reliability
- Cloud Technology: providing SMBs instant access to world-class IT capabilities without having to spend time and money acquiring, developing and maintaining their own IT systems and applications.
- Mobile: explosion of new technology and virtual currencies is changing where, when and how people and business exchange value
- Data visualisation: has the potential to reach beyond the classical goals of finding data patterns and help users make better-informed decisions by communicating useful knowledge
While it is very easy to get lost in the headlines and the excitement about the technology, it is important that SMB businesses remember that this is not about technology it’s about business.
Although it is effecting their business, there may be a temptation for many SMBs to procrastinate or believe that this is not in the ‘here and now’ and if they do we believe profit erosion is the likely outcome. Those that grasp the opportunity can benefit from the disruption.
One of the key ways we see that benefit playing out is the democratisation of scale. SMBs have a natural relative advantage of speed and agility, and by embracing digital, SMBs can get access to a range of functionality previously only available to large organisations and do so in a way that maintains agility and provides scalability and without undue commercial risk. Embracing digital can enable smaller companies be more flexible and responsive with customers that might otherwise have seemed out of reach.
And the numbers speak for themselves. In a recent report Deloitte Access Economics found that, small businesses with high digital engagement enjoy better business outcomes, with an average increase of 20% in annual income. They are two times more likely to be growing revenue and four times more likely to be hiring [ii].
Those are compelling outcomes in anyone’s language.
[i] Digital disruption – Short fuse, big bang?, Deloitte
[ii] Connected Small Business, Deloitte Access Economics