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Survey reveals the top three priorities for digital transformation for SMEs

A poll by enterprise business solutions provider Konica Minolta comprising 242 small businesses from a variety of industries found that most small firms are still in the process of implementing digital transformations. 

The study examined the digital transformation path and small business priorities on digital transformation. Every industry’s landscape has already been affected by digital disruption. 

Mark Brown, the general manager – marketing and innovation at Konica Minolta Australia, said, “Small businesses that are in the early stages of digital transformation should focus on leveraging technology to evolve their current processes. 

“They should also be concerned with identifying new revenue streams and working with an agile mindset to create an environment that is conducive to experimentation. 

“Those that are post-transformation should be concerned with improving customer relationships and increasing customer lifetime value through an exceptional experience across all channels,” he said.

Poll findings 

The survey revealed that, regardless of where these businesses sat in the transformation journey, the top three priorities are: 

Productivity and office applications (45 per cent) 

Maintaining productivity and doing more with less has always been strong business drivers for small businesses. Automation can help deliver the productivity improvements small businesses are looking for. 

While previously considered to be the domain of large enterprises with deep pockets, automation and machine learning-based tools are affordable for small businesses and can dramatically reduce the amount of time wasted on manual, repetitive, error-prone tasks. 

Storage (37 per cent) 

Paper-based documents take up valuable real estate in shrinking offices. Managing documents across their lifecycle means understanding when to retain this paperwork and when (and how) to destroy it. 

Enterprise content management (ECM) systems can help small businesses store current and archived documents digitally so they never go missing, can always be found when needed, and don’t take up any physical space. 

Security (34 per cent) 

Small businesses are not immune from the phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks that are plaguing organisations. Many organisations overlook their print and scan infrastructure when it comes to security; however, this can be a significant weak point. 

It’s essential for small businesses to consult their technology provider to understand how to secure their data regardless of where it resides and whether it’s at rest or in transit. 

Mark Brown said, “Every small business can benefit exponentially from digitally transforming, even if they’re still in the early experimental stages. Now is the time for small businesses to consider how they unlock the possibilities of digitisation to innovate, engage with their customers, and prepare for the future.” 

Other key findings

The survey also found that:

  • 27 per cent of businesses characterised their digital transformation status as “experimenting with pockets of experimentation with digital as an add-on to current services”
  • 27 per cent characterised it as “escalating with a digital strategy in place with a foundation for data-driven performance” 
  •  26 per cent said it was “business as usual with unconnected systems and data silos” 
  • 12 per cent said they were “accelerating with enterprise-wide momentum in productivity, innovation and performance from digital initiatives”
  • 7 per cent considered themselves “digital natives with a scalable, agile business and with business goals and KPIs aligned to digital-first principles”.

The game-changer

Lockdowns and social distancing prompted a radical rethinking of business models, with businesses relocating operations online or implementing smart working solutions on short notice to stay in business and overcome supply chain disruptions. 

According to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report, early evidence from company surveys from around the world indicated that up to 70% of SMEs have increased their usage of digital technologies as a result of COVID-19.

Potential risks

One important risk is that hackers would have more opportunities to attack SMEs’ lack of readiness. Coronavirus-related scams and phishing campaigns have been on the rise, and there has been a fourfold increase in cybersecurity complaints since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The costs of a breach to SMEs can be significant, frequently exceeding the average SMEs available cash reserves.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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