Growing Businesses Prepare For Act 2 Of Their Digital Evolution

Meaghan Sullivan

Competing against a slate of long-established brands and disruptive startups is a stressful and exhaustive reality for many small and midsize businesses. They are not only up against rivals with extensive resources, capital, and brand recognition, but also first-mover visionaries fueled by nonstop creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and an “everything to gain, nothing to lose” spirit.

This environment may appear as the death knell for small and midsize businesses, but according to Oxford Economics’ 2017 “The Transformation Imperative for Small and Midsize Companies,” sponsored by SAP, digital transformation initiatives are helping them stay competitive. The survey of 3,000 executives across 17 countries reveals that over half of growing companies view digital transformation as a core survival objective that will increase in urgency by as much as 32% over the next five years.

Source:The Transformation Imperative for Small and Midsize Companies,” Oxford Economics, sponsored by SAP, 2017.

What’s compelling most small and midsize businesses to pay attention and invest in digital transformation? It seems that the answer to this question points to the buzzworthy wave of next-generation technology that’s emerging as a viable – sometimes, necessary – enabler of capabilities required to operate competitively.

Sweeping, technology-driven changes advance the importance of digital transformation

For small and midsize businesses, the road to digital transformation has been hard-won. This level of technology-driven change was once considered an option reserved for large enterprises that could afford it. However, the growth and improvement they are experiencing now from their digital initiatives closely resemble those realized by their much larger rivals. According to the Oxford Economics report, businesses with annual revenues between US$100 million and $499.9 million are using digital transformation to attract and retain the right talent and increase profitability– nearly as much as companies generating millions and billions more.

Source:The Transformation Imperative for Small and Midsize Companies,” Oxford Economics, sponsored by SAP, 2017.

While this is all excellent news, small and midsize businesses are far from done with digital transformation. Emerging technologies such as self-service analytics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain are finding their way into conversations among business leaders, analysts, and trusted solution providers.

For any growing company that is already evolving their practices with analytics, cloud solutions, mobile applications, or digital commerce platforms, the capabilities enabled by these new digital investments are highly accessible. For example, the Internet of Things is enabling anything from high-precision hyperlocal advertising and online search to the tracking of shipments and customers. Companies can now take their seemingly random collection of data to pull insights product performance, customer behavior, and brand sentiment. And with information like this, decision makers can have a better sense of how they can increase revenue while avoiding oncoming risks and preventable costs.

Taking advantage of these next-generation technologies doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to actually implement them. It is highly likely that you are using – or will use – software or services that tap into these advanced technologies. Machine learning is turning data analytics is a simpler, more-decisive tool. Cybersecurity solutions are leveraging blockchain to validate authentication and secure data governance. Artificial intelligence is being embedded in business applications to guide users through processes, workflows, and information search.

So here’s my bet for 2018: Every company will touch technology more than ever before – whether through active adoption or passive use. Small and midsize businesses that know how to take advantage of these opportunities will reap tremendous rewards. But as their digital transformation matures, companies will be able to pick out the digital winners that will make their employees’ lives easier, add value to the customer experience, and build a stronger brand name.

Help ensure that your small or midsize business is ready to take on digital transformation to continually improve operations, processes, and products, and services. Check out Oxford Economics’ study, “The Transformation Imperative for Small and Midsize Companies,” sponsored by SAP.

 


Meaghan Sullivan

About Meaghan Sullivan

Meaghan Sullivan is the vice president of Global Channel Marketing at SAP. In this role, she is tasked with accelerating global indirect revenue through channel marketing practices with a focus on VARs and Distributors. Sullivan focuses on Partner-Lead Demand Generation activities to provide SAP partners with innovative programs, campaigns and resources that enable them to more efficiently market their SAP solutions and services.