Business leaders understand the benefits of digitization. Nevertheless, innovative digital solutions are much more often implemented by large businesses, while for small and medium-sized companies it remains an aspiration or even a dream. The reasons for this are various: from limited financial possibilities to the fear of investing – especially when there is uncertainty about the future prospects or, as now – waiting for the predicted recession. But digitization doesn’t have to cost a lot to bear tangible fruit, the key is to know where to start.
“Depending on the market and the nature of the company’s activities, digital solutions can facilitate and speed up processes, reduce costs, increase reliability, work efficiency, provide more convenience to partners and customers, and ultimately, this leads to higher revenues.” However, smaller companies often refrain from innovative projects. According to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, innovative technological solutions are used by as many as 45 percent. large companies and only 28 percent. businesses employing up to a thousand people”, notes IT and digitization solution companies “Baltic Amadeus” technology director Vitalis Kavaliauskas.
Company managers often treat digitization as a long-term project requiring large financial and human resources. However, V. Kavaliauskas emphasizes that digital transformation is not a one-time project, but a process that consists of many steps and it is not necessary to take them all at once. Even more: after properly assessing the current situation, setting goals and means to achieve them, even small actions can create significant added value.
First: Have a digitization leader
Depending on the size, nature and needs of the organisation, this could be an existing employee of yours, a newly hired specialist or the role could be outsourced to a third party such as IT consulting for the company.
“It is important to understand that digitization includes not only technologies, tools, but, above all, people. Therefore, the main task of the digitization leader will be to become a connecting link between the company’s technology, employees and decision makers. In other words, he will have to make sure that the management agrees to the changes, and that the employees know how to use the implemented solutions”, says V. Kavaliauskas.
Second: Develop a strategy and action plan
Depending on the needs of the company, the digitization strategy can cover the next three, five or even ten years. Setting goals and prioritizing them will make it easier to decide when and where to invest first.
It is equally important to take into account how much time and investment the individual stages will require, implementation of innovations. It is possible that after clearing these questions, it will also become clear which “low-hanging fruits” can be written first, and the additional income or savings obtained from them can be invested in further actions.
“There is no single, universal recipe here. Even seemingly similar manufacturing or service companies may have drastically different needs, and bottlenecks may lie in different places. The reasons for this are very diverse: the used channels, technologies, tools and their integrations differ, the way data is collected and analyzed, and finally, the digital marketing and sales solutions applied. Simply put, everything depends on the level of digital maturity of the company”, says V. Kavaliauskas.
Third: Look for tools and evaluate their benefits
Testing or implementing innovations usually associated with large initial investments that do not necessarily guarantee success. However, this is not true for all digital solutions.
IT the expert gives an example: global public cloud solutions leaders such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure offer a trial of various technical features without a large initial investment. So you can test data analytics, archiving, artificial intelligence, text or voice recognition and other features even without an initial budget by ordering free plans for these services.
“The possibility to experiment and evaluate the possible potential of solutions is extremely relevant for smaller companies. They can also take advantage of flexible service plans, such as a consumption-based billing model. It makes it easier to test technological solutions, while avoiding financial risks – it is enough to pay the monthly service fee, and if the tool does not work, the contract can be terminated at any time”, notes V. Kavaliauskas.
He adds that in general cloud solutions helps realize the desired solutions faster, simpler and cheaper, so companies can more easily digitize business processes, create digital products more quickly or ensure better customer service.
Fourth: digitization is not a sprint, but a marathon
Digitization will not happen in a month, six months or even a year. That’s how long its individual stages, implementation of innovations may last, but the process itself has no definite end, it must take place continuously. “Baltic Amadeus“, the expert also points out that after the introduction of innovations – new tools, systems and other technologies – it is worth spending enough time and attention to introduce them.
“It is important that the people who use these new tools – whether they are your employees, partners or customers – have enough time to familiarize themselves with the innovations, get used to them, understand their management and learn how to use them. Therefore, before taking a new step, it is useful to make sure that what has been done up to that point is working. Otherwise, dissatisfaction and confusion may arise, and all this will only hinder moving forward”, advises V. Kavaliauskas.
Implementation of innovations enables companies not only to introduce new services and products, but also to create a better customer experience. This pays off in the long run, as happy customers tend to pay more and recommend products or services to others, which inevitably increases revenue.
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