30 May 2019, 16:51 — 11 min read
Digitisation offers small businesses with unprecedented opportunities to tap new markets, improve their offerings and better serve their customers. The undeniable question is, ‘How can SMEs succeed in a digital world?’
The 3 key elements of this question are
SMEs as the term describes are small and medium enterprises. But to me SME are all about ‘large’ dreams, commitment, agility, a never say die attitude, and a lot of passion. Now what does success mean? While it may mean different things to different people, it is safe to define it minimally as growing faster than your industry or even faster than anybody else in your industry; and a second element is future proofing this growth by anticipating changes in your business and industry and constantly evolving your business model.
This brings us finally to the digital world. This is easy to understand as we all are practically living in one.
If you look around you, you can feel the widespread adoption of digital tools like smartphones and tablets around you. This goes on to show that the internet has penetrated deep inside every aspect of our lives. From a business owner or leader’s perspective, we can certainly feel that but as consumers as well, our experiences have transformed.
Do you remember the last time you stood in line at the box office to buy a movie ticket? Most likely not. Let us look at this simple infographic to understand better:
We perform most of these services online, and are not shy of changing service providers, for example, to change our bank if our bank doesn’t provide us some of these conveniences. As consumers, I believe we should have the right to choose who to forge a business relationship with at a time and manner convenient to us.
Now if you flip this coin, on the other side we are the business and are providing our customers and clients services and they too may have certain expectations from us. It is ideal to prepare ourselves earlier than at a time when there is no choice.
To use today’s technology you don’t need to be a technocrat. To go to an unknown destination we use the map feature on our phones and a creative problem solver used the same basic capability to very cleverly create a business called Uber. The crux of this example is, if we can imagine a dream solution in our business, we will definitely be able to find a digital way of delivering better to our customers.
This brings us to the question we all are looking an answer for. What is the success mantra for businesses to grow and succeed in a digital world? Before I explain further, I want you to ask yourself the following questions:
Are you wondering how to connect with your consumers from a transactional to a value addition point of view?
Are you wondering how your organisation can keep pace with the digital world and thrive?
Are you wondering how you can leverage technology to optimize functions from sales to marketing?
If yes, then I would like you to consider three things while thinking of success for your business and its growth in today’s world:
1. Customer view
Become your own client: Think of your business as your customers and clients think of it. See their pain points and how you may be able to assist them do more business with you.
2. Execution and approach
Move quickly: Timing is key. Technology has eliminated entry barriers for new entrants to disrupt industries that are relatively new for these players. This makes it critical for established or even new businesses to move quickly, and we will cover how to achieve this.
3. Embrace technology
Remember, the complexity lies behind the curtain: To use today’s technology you don’t need to be a technocrat. To go to an unknown destination we use the map feature on our phones and a creative problem solver used the same basic capability to very cleverly create a business called Uber. The crux of this example is, if we can imagine a dream solution in our business, we will definitely be able to find a digital way of delivering better to our customers.
Let’s delve deeper into each of these points.
Digital advancements have empowered customers more than ever before and this has made them more demanding. Hence it is critical for every business to not only understand customer expectations and meet them, but also connect with customers and become a part of their life.
If you listen carefully, this is what your customers are saying:
But how can you achieve this?
1. Ask your audience for insights
The true value of social media comes not when you talk at your customers but when you talk with your customers. Create polls, reply to questions, and ask for feedback about your products and services.
2. Be curious
Get genuinely interested in your customers and cultivate an ‘investigative mentality.’ Seek out your customers online and find out who they follow besides your company. Learn what their interests are, what they do in their spare time, what they believe, and how they engage with friends. Do you notice any patterns? Sometimes, good old fashioned curiosity can often fill in the gaps.
3. Collaborate with your users
Customer collaboration is one of the most powerful ways to ensure that your product excites your users. Your customers will gladly tell you what they want and if you’re smart, you’ll listen to them.
4. Delight your customers
The number one reason customers or clients switch brands or companies have nothing to do with the quality of the product/service or the price. The reason people leave companies is that they feel like they are not valued. The good news is it doesn’t take much to delight your customers. Providing good customer service or ensuring that they have effective means of communicating with you often mitigates problems before they begin.
Execution and Approach
Digitisation has lowered entry barriers, causing long-established boundaries between sectors to tumble. Competitors are emerging form unexpected places. Web-based service providers in telecommunications or insurance, for example, can now tap markets without having to build distribution networks of offices and local agents. Effectively mining data on risks, incomes and preferences of customers can open a world of opportunities for them.
Rakuten, the Amazon of Japan, is using its network to offer financial services. Powerhouses like Google and Twitter are testing waters way beyond their current business model by venturing into Google Wallet and Twitter’s retail offering.
On the other hand, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after being the synonymous with photography. It did pivot its business model but certainly not in the way it had for over 13 decades. Yet, organisations faced with similar circumstances have been able to make the transition and even thrive. They have embraced the only constant – change. And have done so rather swiftly and quickly and in an ‘agile’ manner.
What is agile? You may ask or isn’t agile for software developers? The answer is, not any more.
The key principles of an agile approach are:
As consumers, we are using technology for increased convenience more than ever. Paying for coffee at Starbucks through a smart phone app or checking in via a tablet kiosk at a hotel are interactions that have simplified chores, saving us time and effort.
Beauty of digital solutions is that the complexity is behind the curtains for the consumer. For you as a business, there are several added advantages of leveraging technology:
Even for you as business owners, there are several digital technology tools and web solutions in the market that can help increase efficiency, reduce time to market, and find more customers and suppliers. GlobalLinker is also one such solution you should embrace to find more customers or suppliers.
Check out the complete webinar presented by me on 28 May 2019:
Let us know if you liked the webinar and please share any questions you have, in the comments section below.
Posted bySummi Gambhir
Delivering digital innovation, in partnership with progressive global corporations, through digital platforms & user centered solutions
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