SME Digital Transformation: Do or Die – harsh or reality?

SME Digital Transformation – Do or Die – harsh or reality?

Digital transformation is something we hear about more and more, perhaps at meetings, business forums, events, in research papers, surveys and blogs. We’re told digital transformation is at the top of most businesses agendas and if it isn’t, those businesses must expect to die; harsh words! In 2018 instead of asking whether a business has a digital transformation strategy it appears that the question now is how fast are you deploying and updating the strategy.

There are a variety of definitions of Digital Transformation, many hard to grasp, and in truth it will be different for every organisation. A definition that I like is from The Enterprises Project that defines digital transformation as:

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure. 

The key word for me in this definition is ‘customers’. Competition in business is as great as it’s ever been and at the heart of this competition is the customer. Making efficiencies in any organisation ultimately impacts the customer, whether the customer is a patient, student or person seeking a product or service. So rather than asking how can we digitally transform our organisation, we should be asking what are our customers’ requirements and expectations in every aspect of their engagement with us, not just today but into the future. digital transformation: web conferencingIdentifying how we can meet these requirements and expectations will undoubtedly provide us with digital transformation. For example, people now have an expectation that they can obtain information almost instantly, they want fast efficient communication and to be able to make an informed decision with the least amount of time and effort. They also want a quality service and are very likely to want the option to engage with a human, not just a machine. An organisation wants these people to convert from prospects into customers and so to meet these requirements and expectations the best solution is digital technology and to have knowledgeable and skilled customer advisors. The advisors communication could be via website text or audio chat, text messaging, social media messaging, voice over internet, web conferencing or telephone.

Whereas many organisations large and small, both public and private, have been on a path of transformation for many years there are others that are either just starting or haven’t given much thought to it. But whatever the size of an organisation identifying digital transformation, strategically planning for transformation and implementing identified objectives are survival skills. Technology has changed organisations forever; those that have digitally transformed will never go back to how they did things before. Even those SMEs that would say that they aren’t digitally transforming their business are very likely to be doing so in small steps. There are very few business owners and managers who don’t have a smart phone and are receiving and sending messages and emails whether sitting at a desk, on a train or walking to a meeting. In fact SMEs are often among the most innovative and agile of all businesses; responding to foreseeable change ahead of their competition. However, a lack of knowledge and willingness hinders many SMEs to drive their digital transformation.  When you consider that over 80% of SMEs, in a survey of 300 businesses by IDC, said that the way they differentiate themselves from larger organisations is their ability to form excellent customer relations and their flexibility, you’d think that developing knowledge or sourcing digital transformation expertise makes business sense.

With over 50% of employment accounted for by SMEs it is imperative that both business owners and employees develop the digital knowledge and skills required to perform in a fast moving world.  A world which is growing smaller and doors are opening to international trade, thanks to technology. So instead of seeing technology as a necessary cost, the view of 45% of SMEs in the IDC survey, SMEs should view technology as a driver of competitive advantage, but only 20% saw technology this way.

Runner-up Best use of TechnologyLast month eLearning Marketplace was delighted to be awarded runner up in the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Best Use of Technology award 2018. An award achieved due to our continual drive to make efficiencies in the business, provide our customers with the best customer service possible and to bring innovations to the market, which not only benefit our business, but our customers as well. Cloud technology, cyber security solutions and a knowledgeable and skilled workforce have enabled us to utilise digital technology to continue the transformation of our business. It is down to digital transformation that we have achieved over 85% growth year on year for the last three years. Would I say that without digital transformation we wouldn’t be here today competing in a very competitive online learning market, well I think I would.


Author: Carolyn Lewis, Managing Director, eLearning Marketplace Ltd


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