Delivering digital business transformations for SMEs

18 November 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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With the importance of digital technology having become even more important since the pandemic, small and mid-sized enterprises need to consider how to update their own operations to keep pace with competitors. According to Marieta Bencheva, Co-founder of Consulthon, choosing the right approach is key to a successful transformation.

According to a various studies, businesses have surprised themselves with the speed and success of their digital initiatives in response to Covid-19. On average, one white paper found that digital offerings have bypassed seven years of progress in a matter of months. It is clear in that context that digitalisation is no longer a question of if, but how fast?

At the same time, mounting evidence shows that digital transformations are easier said than done, with more than half of all UK projects estimated to fail at realising their desired goals. On top of this, accelerating digital transformations has been easier for some firms, than for others. With their deeper pockets and larger talent pools, big companies have been able to push ahead with transformations more quickly than small and mid-sized enterprises – something that can make starting a digital journey a daunting prospect for SMEs.

Delivering digital business transformations for SMEs

According to Consulthon Co-Founder Marieta Bencheva, however, such organisations needn’t fear digitalisation. The key is to be thorough when planning such a transformation in the first place.  

Bencheva explained, “You need to ask the following question: Where do I see my company when all this is finalised? This means you need to define the problem before starting on the approach.”

Setting the strategy

Having determined the goals of a transformation, it is then the right time to move on to building a strategy. This needs to be built around the analysis of the business environment an SME is functioning in – considering what competitors are offering, and what clients and customers expect. At the same time, the digital transformation strategy cannot neglect the human side of a business.

Contrary to popular belief, it is people and talent which make the most difference when it comes to digital transformation. Without the right people, technology won’t be used to its full potential. A business’ ability to adapt to a digital future depends on developing the next generation of skills, meeting the talent supply and demand, and protecting its potential from future changes. Meanwhile, being inclusive of a company’s existing talent will help get the most out of them during a transformation.

Bencheva explained, “Set up a working group and get them into a brainstorming session. Decide on the exact steps to take and, if necessary, on whether to hire an external consultant or not. The external people are usually used for bigger companies and/or more serious digital transformation processes.”

Methodologies

When drawing up a plan, it is worth looking into methodological tools which can help SMEs manage their digitalisations. Bencheva pointed out that there are tools for “almost everything” to help reduce the time spent on a task while increasing its the efficiency.

Noting four in particular, first, she highlighted ‘Fix this next.’ The methodology can help evaluate basic needs of an organisation, the goals relevant to them, and the benefits from achieving them. Meanwhile, ‘CX approach’ centres on customer experience, helping to decide on whether to invest in digital transformation and how much. Third, SchellingPoint is software which allows not only active collaboration, but also helps SMEs reach decisions and develop strategies. They have a digital strategy template which can also assist. Finally, ‘N2D Method’ is an algorithmic model that helps SMEs spot opportunities and devise plans for different circumstances, while recommending the technology a company needs the most.