Digitising my business, where do I start?

We all strive to be more efficient and few would argue that for a business to achieve this, the move to digitisation is required. Our customers’ expectations have increased over the years as they get used to instantaneous communication and service in other areas of their lives.

We all want to be able to service our customers better yet many of us are not communicating with our customers in their preferred medium.

We want to reap the benefits of having a remote workforce or offer flexible working but have yet to move to the cloud. Many small businesses have still to embrace advances in digital technology, owing to lack of time or skills and the perceived cost of doing so.

Being unable to keep up-to-date with today’s fast paced technological changes can lead to apprehension about tackling the issue. But like anything, ignoring it won’t make it go away.

Examine your business model

Before you embark on this overhaul, take time out to review your business plan and maybe even take advice. After all, these changes have taken place gradually over many years and you can’t be expected to have all the necessary skills in-house to bring about this change. Just because you might be more familiar with social media and mobile applications, doesn’t mean that your focus should be on your marketing processes only. Instead, look at how advances in technology can change not just the customer engagement part of your business process but also the production, marketing, sales and fulfilment of your product or service. Go back to the beginning and ask yourself those old questions: Who is our customer? Who is our competition? How often are they buying our product?  What do they think of our customer service? Only then can you start your businesses journey to digitisation.

Be aware of the costs

Of course the long term plan is to operate your business with the least effort and expense. In the short-term though, this may involve some expenditure. New technology or training for your team on new systems and processes or perhaps even the need to recruit can be costly. A simple cost-benefit analysis will help you to see if the costs outweigh the long-term benefits. This in turn will help you to prioritise which changes to introduce first.

Gain buy-in

Implementing changes is always best when you communicate to those around you why you are introducing new systems. Telling employees that the reason the business is moving to cloud based computing is to allow for flexible working and greater collaboration will help to allay the fear of change. Getting across the message that digitisation brings a host of new opportunities will help ease your workforce into the change process.

Addressing the process of digitisation in your business with a holistic approach is the only way to ensure that you move at a pace which is right for both you and your customers.

Written by Liza Armstrong, Business Advisor at Mi Ventures.