We sat helpless watching as the COVID-19 pandemic knocked at our doors. With millions suffering from the virus the economy took a stall. Small business businesses were the ones who suffered the most. 

To gauge the impact of the pandemic a survey was conducted which included 5800 small businesses between March 28 to April 4, 2020. This survey shed light on the following issues. 

  • Bulk layoffs and several small businesses closed during the first few weeks of the crisis. 
  • The risk of business closing down was associated with the length of the crisis. 
  • Many small businesses were financially fragile when the pandemic struck. Businesses with more than $10,000 in monthly expenses only had cash that would allow them to operate only for 2 weeks. 
  • Many small businesses look for help in the form of funding through Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, however, they face problems such as bureaucratic squabble and difficulties building eligibility. 

This begged the question, Is there no hope?

Digital Transformation

Hope came in the form of Digital Transformation. The pandemic forced a new era on us where remote working was the only way to maintain business continuity, concerning the stipulated government norms of social distancing. Businesses stood up to the challenge and set up at least some kind of a temporary solution to meet the new demands triggered by the pandemic. Many businesses started making investments in digital technology, transforming their businesses digitally as these transformations would be long lasting seeing how the behaviours of the customers have also changed. 

To maintain business continuity many small businesses understood the importance of new practices and business strategies to stay competitive in this new environment. Many businesses understood that using technology was not just for cost efficiencies but was a critical factor in business strategy. Many businesses used technological capabilities to fill their technology talent gaps, fuel innovation and accelerate their experimentation. Several digital transformation solutions were available for small businesses to help them transform their businesses digitally. 

Customers Adopting Digital Avenues

The norms of social distancing pushed customers to dramatically use online channels, which also forced the businesses to respond in return. In a survey conducted by McKinsey and Company, it was found that the rate of adoption of digital channels was years ahead of what it was the previous year. Developed countries in Asia displayed the highest rate of adoption and now at least 80% of the respondents who took part in this survey say that they are three times more inclined to do digital interactions.  

As a result of increased competition in the market, businesses focused more on digital transformation and the need to increase customer value. In a report by Watermark, it was demonstrated that businesses focused on CX (customer experience) yielded three times more stock performance return than any CX laggards. A report by Gartner puts digital transformation amongst the top three priorities for any business. 

Modern technology, cultural support and good vendors are the recipe for successful deployment of digital transformation. Enterprises have the liberty of huge budgets and easy access to technology vendors who can aid them with digital transformation, however, digital transformation is just not limited to these enterprises but to small businesses too. 

According to an SMB Group’s study nearly half of the SMCs (small and medium businesses) are currently planning to transform their business digitally. Around 75% of the companies surveyed said that their businesses will be affected largely by digital transformation. 

Challenges faced by Small Businesses

As the costumes expectations have changed so have the necessities for digital transformation. However, there are some dissimilarities in the rate of adoption of an enterprise and a small business. Below are some challenges that small businesses face: 

Time and Money

Several enterprises need complex solutions to transform their business processes, hence they require hefty budgets and have the time to do it right. However, the dynamics for a small business change. Small businesses have a lesser time to transform and are equipped with smaller budgets. This results in the simplification of digital transformation, focusing only on the areas which are important versus all fields of the business. It is advised to have a personalized playbook for digital transformation. 

Manpower 

Enterprises can spend money hiring experts and leaders who could bear the responsibility of digital transformation, injecting it into the enterprise’s culture. Many small businesses lack the funds and the manpower to do so. 

Consultant Support

Enterprise can invest and hire a digital transformation company to help them with digital transformation. This is where small businesses with inadequate budgets fall behind. 

How should small businesses approach digital transformation?

To counter the above challenges small businesses should have simplified digital transformation strategies focusing on specific areas of businesses and the right technology vendor or a digital transformation company to help them. 

Using vendors can be a key strategic move for small vendors for transformation. If you are a small business then look for vendors that can recognize and drive digital transformation and help you be customer-centric. Below mentioned are some specific things you consider while choosing a vendor:

Domain Knowledge

Look for vendors who have expertise and understanding of the industry vertical and needs specific to your business. This will assure that the approach towards digital transformation is tailored to drive success for your business. 

Customer-Centric

Find a vendor who could give you insights into your customers. Data-driven insights help businesses enhance their CX, and help in running successful workflow optimization, loyalty programs etc. 

New technologies and ML (Machine Learning)

Look for vendors who have expertise in AI software development and ML. These algorithms can convert customer insights into actionable points which can help you enhance customer experience. This will prepare you for the digital future. 

Robust Integration

The vendor that you are opting for should know about commonly used services and tools. This will help your business successfully migrate to serve the digital customer of today. 

Customer Care

The vendor that you are choosing should focus on customer care. Vendors who prioritize customer care will guide you through the digital transformation successfully.

Conclusion 

Digital transformation ensures that small businesses can deliver value to their customers while catering to their changing needs and behaviours. Digital transformation for small businesses starts with a transformation strategy and a clear path but success can be only achieved through the right vendor(s) who can partner with you through this transformation. 

Nora Winkens   –  

Author Bio– Nora is a copywriter and content writer for Daffodil Software. She specializes in ghost blogging, email marketing campaigns and content for sales pages. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increases your search engine visibility.