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Digitalization in SMEs: not if, but how and when

[oc_spacer height=”15″]Through digital transformation, an exciting and promising age starts for organisations. However, according to a survey by consultancy firm McKinsey, only every second medium sized business considers digitalization an opportunity. Read here how smaller businesses, in particular, benefit from digitalization and what steps are required along the way.

Suddenly an outsider shows up and wants to turn our business upside down. Can we, as a small business, even afford digitalization? Many companies can hardly envisage what digitalization would mean for their operation and in the ears of many people involved, digital solutions still sounds futuristic and aloof – do we really need all this? The answer is no; not every company needs to go through the complete range of digital solutions and strategies.

Assistance allowed

However, a good approach is to analyse preconditions and objectives individually. When making the often very big step of digitalization, the development strategy does not have to be done alone. Seek external help, and even exchange experience with other businesses, not only from across all sectors, but also with potential competitors. Such an exchange is insofar meaningful as many mechanisms of digitalization apply to almost every organisation. Therefore, SMEs can gain valuable inspiration by contacting an organisation, which is in a similar starting position as their own (relating to staff numbers, location, infrastructure, financial means etc.) and which has already successfully mastered partial steps on the way to becoming a digitalized business. Many benefits can be achieved when undergoing the processes of digitalization, as many successful positive examples demonstrate.

The apparently most trivial benefit of a successful digitalization strategy is the survival of the organisation in view of changing customer requirements and extensive internationalisation. Four out of ten business have already experienced disruptive movements by new entrants in their market segment according to Michael Reuther, executive board member at Commerzbank. It is therefore important to reassess business processes and ideas to be able to react more flexibly to changing customer requirements and market conditions. “The question is not, if digitalization will take place, but how and when“, points out Dirk Backofen, head of marketing Business Customers of Telekom Germany GmbH.

Digitalization – three Success Stories from Medium Sized Businesses

Digitalization enables businesses to reach more customers, communicate easier and faster with them and subsequently increase their turnover. Even regional small businesses can develop completely unexpected markets for their product through digital opening. For example, a Franconian butcher sells goods via an online shop around the world and were able to increase their turnover by 50% – the website of the family owned business is now also available in Chinese.

Even smaller staff numbers or limited resources do not have to get in the way of digitalization: A logistics business based in Bremen has completely transformed its operation through Open Innovation. In-house developments are continuously driven forward with limited resources. Technology is the omnipresent link between development objectives and staff ideas. Everybody, including external partners, can contribute their knowledge and expertise via digital communication platforms, and consequently take the company further. Today the logistics company is represented on five continents.

A Bremen based personnel office is a classic example for streamlining business processes through digitalization. All data was moved to the cloud, filing cabinets and stacks of paper are no longer to be found in the office. There’s almost no need for emails, calls and meetings as all documents required for day-to-day work are always available in the cloud for all staff, partners and customers, irrespective of their location. “We probably save around half of our working time through using the cloud“, estimates the founder of the business. This is valuable time, which the company now invests in looking after its clients.

Defying Skill Shortage

In the age of qualified staff shortage, IT infrastructures can also be simplified by using cloud services. Many SMEs can even do without an in-house IT department. They draw on the services available from a provider, to the exact extent that meets their own specific requirements, while support as well as maintenance is taken over by the provider for them. This saves both money and time, something particularly valuable in smaller businesses with lower staff resources.

Many medium sized businesses in rural areas have difficulties in attracting qualified employees, as these are more expected to be based in hip larger cities. But highly trained innovators are essential for progress within an organisation. SMEs increase their appeal to talents enormously by offering flexible working time models and by enabling the use of various (private) mobile devices in and outside the company premises. This all sounds like a lot of effort – however, thanks to modern corporate culture and digital workspaces in the cloud, it’s actually quite simple.

Utilise your Employees‘ Potential

Considering the number of opportunities, SMEs should throw caution to the wind and face the transformation Digitalization head on. Apart from partners and external consultants, also listen to your staff. In almost every organisation, they are already perfectly digitalised privately, for example by using various online services. It is imperative to utilise this potential, also to find out how work for the team can be designed in a more comfortable way as employees know their daily tasks best. Keep in mind: qualified, committed and satisfied employees are the greatest asset of any business.

With its platform for the provision as well as distribution of software applications and data, oneclick™ offers a comprehensive solution for the many challenges of digitalization. Get more information about our cloud solutions and set up a personal appointment, in which we will be able to find out how we can support you on your journey to digitalization.