Because the term digital transformation has been used so widely and for so long, you might have written it off as just another corporate buzzword or a phrase that doesn’t apply to small businesses.
But once you get past the hype and jargon, digital transformation simply means digitizing processes. When an entrepreneur moves from using a shoebox to store handwritten receipts to entering sales into a cloud-based accounting system or a grocery store digitizes its inventory process, the business undergoes digital transformation.
Small businesses come in many sizes and shapes. You might be a manufacturing company with 150 employees who assembles circuit boards, but rarely needs its staff to touch a traditional computer, tablet, or mobile device. Or you may have ten employees that manage a complex cloud-based infrastructure. Or you might be a remote-first company that depends heavily on collaboration technologies and mobile applications so employees across the globe can work together easily.
Whether you’re looking to automate existing processes, or you want to embrace digital technology for a new initiative, you should keep a few important concepts in mind.
No matter what your situation may be, the same rule applies: automating a bad process doesn’t magically turn it into a good process. You need to look at your business operations holistically. Sometimes digital transformation can involve making difficult choices, embracing a new business model, or even completely rethinking how you do business.
Changing your operations affects the people connected to your organization. Depending on what you’re doing, you may need your employees, your customers, your vendors, or all of them to get on board with the new ideas and processes. Change is hard, and odds are good that some people won’t like it, particularly at first. Be prepared to experiment and pivot when you run into budgetary, personnel, or other hurdles.
When it comes to digital transformation, small businesses often have a huge advantage: agility. The smart use of technology can help small businesses remain competitive, but first you need to stop and consider what’s possible.
Examine your business operations. How could you take advantage of new technology in various areas of your business? A good first step is to start with your customers. What do they need? How could you make it faster or easier for them to work with you? Could new tools and technology help?
For small business, digital transformation is more than just a buzzword. It offers new ways for you to serve your customers and work smarter, faster, and better.
Learn more about the technology choices and services that can help you jumpstart your efforts to begin the journey to digitization, process by process at Cisco.com/go/smallbusiness.