Businesses are becoming increasingly digital. In 2022, net global spending on digital transformation is expected to top $2 trillion.*  

Consumers are now more than ever asking for more from businesses when it comes to their digital experience. If you are behind on using newer technologies, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position where you are competing against those benefiting from the operational and cost efficiencies that new digital technologies can provide.

No matter your industry, embracing digital transformation by investing your money, time, and energy implementing technologies that will set your business up for future success is essential to remaining competitive and relevant.

Why invest in digital transformation?

There's something for everyone. Digital transformation is a popular term referring to a number of different technologies that function to streamline processes, integrate data, or leverage technology to do more. Many technologies can save you money or standardize your processes and operations while others help you market or communicate more effectively.

Companies investing in digital transformation might invest in technologies that have been around for a while, like mobile technologies, but they might do so in concert with cutting edge tech that mobile can integrate with, including apps, 5G networks, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, augmented reality, real-time data, and automation. Many digital technologies are focused on the move to managed services or automation, and their value to a small business is in their reduction in work time or capital costs, including things like cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, robotic process automation, intelligent automation, business process automation, predictive analytics, workflow management, customer self-service, customer automation, low code, and personalization.

Digital investments also include enterprise modernization technologies like cyber security, enterprise resource planning software (ERP), and enterprise risk management software (ERM).

This may seem like a lot to take in, but don’t be intimidated. The best place to start, is by understanding your needs, and anywhere that you are currently experiencing a pain point in your operations or interactions with customer, to then look for alternative solutions.

Integrating legacy systems allows for better collaboration

If you're like many small businesses, you have different systems in place for things like your finances, supply chain, operations, commerce, manufacturing, reporting, and human resources. Although this might allow you to monitor everyday business processes adequately, it can create data silos between departments and functions and makes it hard to visualize your business's future growth.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software brings legacy systems together in one place. This allows you to better understand your data, increase productivity, improve connectivity, facilitate better communication, and optimize your business processes to save money and prevent operational disruption. Whether you have five employees or 50, having integrated and complete data connected centrally will help you navigate the complexities of your business.

Customers expect an engaging digital experience

Last year, the pandemic caused many industries to update their customer experience software as they shifted their in-person services to online. Customers are now used to the virtual customer experiences of your competitors and capabilities of businesses in other industries as well. They want relevant and engaging resources and information anytime and on their favourite device, and they are willing to change who they purchase from to get what they want.

In the recent Digital Experiences: Where the Industry Stands report, 48% of respondents surveyed believe they must make significant advances in digital experience within 12 months, with 32% saying if they do not adapt within 1-2 years the business will be negatively affected. This includes data-driven marketing strategies, IT service management, customer service management, and other technology innovations that help leverage things like real-time data, automation, and AI to improve your customer journey and engagement.

Automating processes saves work hours

Digital transformation can allow you to work smarter, not harder. In any business, there are repetitive tasks that need to be done every day, week, or month. Technologies like business process automation, intelligent automation, and robotic process automation standardize processes and create rules-based automations to free you or your staff from having to do them manually. While there may be initial set up costs and training, streamlining operations  can reduce costs, allowing your team to focus on more valuable activities  for your business instead.

Leverage digital for the data

Smaller businesses haven't leveraged the power of data in the same way as larger companies. But with more digital data platforms being created for small businesses, now is the time to use the power of data analytics to take your business to the next level. Real-time customer information, logistics, manufacturing, and sales data can help you run your business more efficiently.

While you might currently collect a lot data, if you haven’t invested in this area, you likely aren't able to visualize and organize it properly to make forward-looking operational or customer service decisions. Real-time data analytics software allows you to respond more quickly to shifts in your business and see potential opportunities. For example, you might be able to better predict seasonal purchasing behavior or create more customized services and products as customers tastes and preferences change over time.

Digital advertising is the future

When it comes to advertising and marketing, information technology can provide a number of ways to help your business navigate your digital channels beyond your website and better integrate with automation tools, analytics platforms, and customer databases into one customer data platform. With customers spending more time in front of their screens, you can work to optimize your company's customer engagements by looking holistically at where they are spending the most amount of time, and then test ways to increase those engagements into sales and loyal customers.

Adopt emerging technologies early

There are exciting new opportunities ahead and being an early adopter can give your company a competitive advantage. For example, 5G networks will open up opportunities to leverage the power of the IoT. With IoTs and 5G, agricultural workers will be able to optimize workflows, like water and crop management.  Manufacturers will be able to monitor equipment to know when to perform proactive maintenance and to avoid potential breaks and costly down time. Learning about new technology innovations and seeing how they're relevant to your industry can be a powerful tool for your company's future growth.

What are the risks of using digital technology?

Investing in technology and digital can be expensive, especially initially. There are the four main risks associated with investing in digital technologies. These include making the wrong investments for your business, spending too much, not deploying the technology well, and moving too slowly.

The key? Start today. Investing in digitally transforming your business will pay dividends and the process doesn't have to happen all at once. Make a list of the types of technologies you're interested in exploring, construct a business model showing how they might benefit your business as well as the bottom line. Explore technology that fits your budget, prioritize the upgrades that will have the most impact for your staff and customers., Budget for the improvements over a period of one to five years, and then get help deploying them which can include training.

There are a number of ways your company can leverage the digital transformation to drive revenue, reduce expenses, and position your business better for the digital future. What’s right for your business will be unique to you, your industry and your vision of the future.

Ready to grow your business or just want to get started? Come in and have a conversation with our Scotia advisors to take your business to the next level