Digital transformation is a challenge many small and medium-sized business owners and entrepreneurs must tackle. An online presence is becoming a crucial part of business models, bringing better organizational and cultural opportunities. Here’s what digitalization is and how you can transform your business online.
Throughout history, the way of doing business has undergone many transformations. In Ancient civilization, business relied on bartering. Then coin and paper money was invented, followed by cheques, bank cards and other means of payment.
Nowadays, digital banking has become essential to financial transactions. Businesses manage payments and collections electronically, with contactless-enabled phones, watches and other devices, not to mention virtual cards and management or accounting apps.
Digital transformation has allowed small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) to reap higher returns in terms of productivity, sales and savings on operating costs. Digitalization is the first step for SMEs and entrepreneurs who want to get the most out of technology.
What is digitalization?
In business, digitalization (or “digitization”) is the process of making analogue-based operations digital. It’s what enables a company to make accounting entries on a computer instead of on the pages of an old-fashioned ledger. Digitalization makes information ready for review online, no matter the time or place.
Creating a website is often the first thing that comes to mind when digitalizing a business; but that's just the beginning. A digitalized company must do whatever it can to transform its business model, chain of production, management, costs and payments. Even though this requires planning and money, it will boost savings and productivity, while attracting the right customer profiles.
How to digitalize your business
Not all businesses are the same — and some may not be able to go fully digital. Digital transformation isn’t one-size-fits-all, either. It ultimately depends on the business model and the type of product or service. Here are some basic recommendations to succeed in the digital era.
Check your business's priorities
In general, businesses aspire to be profitable in accordance with their social and environmental purpose. Therefore, the first step is understanding your business’s finances and what processes you can make digital in order to optimize resources. If you need to increase sales, you might want to create a website so your service or product can reach more potential customers.
If you want your business to be more productive and reduce operating costs, you can find digital solutions that automate manual or repetitive tasks. For instance, you could automate advertising on special digital platforms to engage your target customer on social media.
Create a digital community
Just as regular businesses have a physical location to receive customers, businesses undergoing digital transformation should also provide a similar location on the Internet. In addition to having a website, your business should be active on social media to grow its points of sale as well as its visibility. This will also improve your business’s customer communications and awareness of issues that matter to its success.
Keep your business and customers safe
Data has no doubt become a major asset to have online. Because of phishing, ransomware and malware and other malicious means of making off with the financial information of your business and customers, you should make moves to guarantee the cyber security of your website, social media, payment methods and whatever online resources you use. Some ways you can do this are choosing the right server, adding security procedures and using stronger authentication methods.
Measure your results and make adjustments
In the digital world, (almost) everything can be measured in data. You need to be able to measure the impact of digital transformation on your business. This will help you understand how effective your decision-making is in achieving your business goals. For instance, the number of visits to your website could tell you if you're reaching your target customer or if you’re managing your social media communities properly.
Digitalizing your business isn’t just about scanning invoices or having an online catalogue. It's about managing more tasks more efficiently with technology. As the world evolves, so will the way of doing business. Digitalization could be a good idea so that your business won’t get left behind.