The practical side of digital for business

Digital is no longer a high priority topic, but rather an everyday imperative for all businesses. Most businesses now understand that digital is central to the future success of their business. However they are still working with outdated systems and have limited ability to embrace advances in their industry enabled by digital. So why is change not happening across all parts of the economy?

For many business leaders, the practicalities of execution of a digital strategy remains a constant frustration. Most have aspirations that outstrip the capabilities of their business and their teams. The ability to introduce new systems that will effectively work with existing systems is challenging. Sometimes the dollars required to build or implement IT is prohibitive and hard to justify based on traditional ROI models.

There are a number of important steps that businesses can take in order to tackle the many challenges that come with developing, and implementing a robust yet practical and applicable digital strategy.

  • Have the right people manage critical IT infrastructure and support. Many entrepreneurs and small and medium businesses (SMBs) find the opportunities and systems available overwhelming. Most don’t have a dedicated IT Manager and rely on the business leaders to make decisions when they are occupied with other pressing business issues. Unbiased advice on the systems that will best work for their business is hard to come by. Most software resellers are incentivised to sell the software they are receiving commissions to sell. By having experienced and knowledgeable IT staff, many businesses will be able to navigate the complex landscape of new systems, platforms and opportunities.
  • Foster an open and transparent environment based on collaboration and communication. Once systems have been selected or a plan to build a solution has been arrived at, communicating this effectively can be tricky. Entrepreneurs and business owners need to adopt a design-led approach where the end user is central to every step of the creation and implementation journey. Strong communication of this approach is critical to future success.
  • Adopt a strategic and considered approach to change management. The introduction of any new system or digital strategy will, most likely, have a profound impact on the way that people work and interact with their colleagues and clients. Many SMBs are not equipped to manage the pace of change required to effectively digitalise their business. Entrepreneurs and business owners should see digital as an ongoing journey comprising many small and incremental changes, and they must communicate frequently with internal and external stakeholders. This will mean that any change is managed in a considered and methodical way, and that all staff are aware of how their roles and responsibilities may be impacted by the change.
  • Understand your customers and their specific needs and requirements. By using data analytics, businesses can extract valuable data to help them increase the value of their product or service. However, many SMBs are overwhelmed by the idea of ‘big data analytics’ so start the journey with ‘small data analytics’. Ensuring a client or customer database is carefully managed and personalised or targeted marketing techniques are employed will mean that a business receives the best outcomes possible from their data.

The benefits of embracing digital for all businesses is well documented. The good news is that many digital solutions are becoming more accessible and cost effective. The key for any business is to accept change and encourage their team to embrace the opportunities and get started while keeping their customers’ needs central to any change. Business leaders need to have an overall vision around creating a digitally advanced business, while empowering their teams to implement incremental change every day to achieve this overall goal.

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