5 Biggest Digital Transformation Challenges Small Businesses Face
Today’s entrepreneurs can’t neglect the role of digital transformation in the business world. Systems change nearly every year, and you might feel pressured to keep up.
However, not all businesses can – or should – jump on every trendy bandwagon in business tech.
It’s safe to conclude that digital transformation is more than enhancing business operations. It goes to the core of any business. That explains why companies that fail to adopt technological trends and harness the solutions they offer eventually wilt away.
Digital transformation trends have always been there. The introduction of the steam engine and the assembly line changed the production industry. These innovative solutions were not hyped the first time business owners learned about them.
Some even wrote them off. However, they stand out today as the foundation on which modern automotive production and rail transport rest on. Digital solutions in these industries wouldn’t be possible without such innovative solutions introduced decades ago.
You don’t have to be Elon Musk or Steve Jobs for your business to survive digital transformation challenges. Your best bet is how quickly you identify challenges your business faces. Only then will you be able to look for solutions to overcome them.
You’ll most likely encounter the following challenges:
1. Resistance to Change
The biggest enemy to your business is the “we have always done it this way” mindset. But just as technology and trends change, so do customer expectations. If you want your business to sustain, grow, and attract new customers, inevitably, you’ll have to change some aspects of your business, too.
One example is how businesses are contributing to customer satisfaction with regard to their inventory and shipping processes.
Ten years ago, running a retail business seemed as easy as ordering goods on wholesale and selling them at a profit. In hindsight, though, things look different. Everything was harder and more complicated back then for anyone used to the modern tech solutions in the industry today.
Today, customers have numerous ways of getting the same goods elsewhere if you can’t provide it immediately. In that regard, there are now modern inventory management systems, so you never have to show the “out of stock” message to your customers.
Also, customers want their goods as fast as possible, so offering same-day dispatch from the warehouse and fast shipping with the ability to track and trace their package is nearly indispensable today. And it can all be done with a few clicks on your smartphone.
All this has been made possible through technological advancements that didn’t exist ten years ago. If you resist implementing changes that are clearly benefiting how customers do business with you, in a few years, you might find yourself facing fewer and fewer customers.
2. Lack of Skills When Implementing New Tech
When you decide to implement a new piece of software or equipment that is undoubtedly going to boost your business, the next problem is – who will operate it?
It’s hard to stay updated in a world where a new tech trend comes out almost every month. The same can be said of your staff. So each time you go for a new tech solution in a bid to boost operations, figure out first if your employees are skilled enough to use the latest tech solution.
Many companies behind tech solutions in business offer training to their customers. Many offer the training free. All you have to do is ask. Then have your employees trained to competency levels.
Be sure to also make routine training a trend at your business place. That way, you get to know how well your employees are adapting to your new tech solutions. Over time, they’ll become more proficient and productive, and soon act as mentors to new employees as they adjust to systems they’re not familiar with.
3. Outdated Equipment and Legacy Systems
Outdated equipment may get your job done. How long will this take, though? What about quality issues? Is the machinery still safe to operate?
These are some of the challenges you may face for clinging on to outdated equipment and legacy systems.
Take an entrepreneur in the printing business, for instance. They can’t survive without 3D and digital printers. Analog printers can get the job done. But can the analog printer make it easy for the entrepreneur to print clear and crisp copies in bulk?
If the printer fails to meet customer demands or the services delivered are not up to par, there is really no other solution than to invest in better and faster equipment.
Running a business is all about breaking even to enjoy significant profit margins. This means even the digital transformation measures you take must help you profit from your investment.
In simple words, your digital transformation measures shouldn’t overhaul everything just for the sake of it. Haphazardly investing in trendy new equipment or software that you don’t have a significant profit from should not be your priority.
Instead, take time to figure out which areas of your business bring the highest ROI, and what is necessary to improve those areas. Then, look at what it is that’s hindering productivity.
Maybe you’ll find that the equipment is just fine, but it’s a lack of training or poor work management that results in the equipment not being used to its full potential, in which case a new purchase would make no sense.
5. Embracing New Technologies
Many tech trends seemed insignificant when they first came up. AI and IoT are examples of such trends. Now they are revolutionizing entire industries. It gets better with the fact that you only need smart devices to take advantage of these trends.
No one could predict this 20 years ago, and today, they’re becoming an integral part of all business spheres.
It doesn’t end at just AI and IoT. Other technologies that shape the production and other business processes include 5G networks, cognitive manufacturing, hybrid manufacturing, robotics, machine to machine communication, and more.
You can benefit from keeping an eye on these trends and then see how you can use them creatively to help advance your business.
You don’t even have to implement them on a large scale. Start small.
Many POS systems today can accurately capture customer data beyond their spending habits and trends. Using their internal algorithms, you can filter out demographics, average spend amount, preferred products or services, etc.
Take advantage of this and obtain contact details. This will make your online marketing campaigns easy, as you’ll spend less with more targeted results.
Trends come and go. The best you can do as a business person is to be observant. Embrace what can help your business grow and stay competitive and disregard the rest. Then while at it, note that there are trends you can never write off.
Tech solutions often come along with challenges that may make it difficult for you to adopt them. This isn’t the right approach for perceiving tech trends, though. Always look at the bigger picture. You’ll quickly realize that tech trends don’t just come up with solutions but also opportunities.
Adopt the trends and solutions in your niche, and just like that, you streamline operations, save time, and make profits.
Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.