Part 7 of “The Road to Live Business” series
Every business is a work in progress. But in today’s increasingly digital world, “work in progress” is an understatement; it’s more like a matter of total disruption and reimagination. Customers are raising the bar on their online and in-store expectations – demanding interactions that are relevant, in-the-moment, and available across a variety of channels.
Fortunately, as a smaller and growing company, you are most likely more nimble, agile, and faster than your larger competitors – digital technology just amplifies it. And for this reason, your firm has the best chance to become the Live Business your customers demand. It’s part of your DNA.
How small and midsize businesses can embrace their Live Business nature
Traditionally, companies are categorized into two major groups: business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). However, in the digital age, it’s the customer who is in the driver seat in establishing a company’s brand. In turn, those two classic segments are merging into a single consumer-to-business (C2B) model.
To grow the business, every aspect of the brand should be more customer-driven and customer-centric, which is the “live” part of running a Live Business. Because customer values and demands are an ever-moving target, the right tools, data, and systems must be in place to identify, respond, and address those changes at the very moment they occur – not minutes, hours, or days later.
Yet, there’s the reality of growing a small or midsize business that gets in the way of operating in the moment. As your workforce, supplier network, or customer base grows, so does complexity. Your processes are slower. Your operations are not as responsive. More important, your customers may not feel the same level of responsiveness they once did when you first opened your doors.
Direction and willingness are the first steps, then followed by digital technology adoption
To become an authentic Live Business, you must establish the direction and secure your leadership’s and employees’ commitment to overcoming the challenges of growth and expansion. Only from this perspective can you determine operational strengths, market opportunities, and innovations that attract new and existing customers.
The technology, talent, and knowledge that support the vision of a Live Business are more affordable and pervasive than ever before. And thanks to these innovations below, your small or midsize business has a unique opportunity to not just compete against brands of all sizes, but also guide your way to seizing market leadership.
- Cloud: In the past, small and midsize businesses did not have the capital, time, or resources to invest in the same technology as much larger enterprises. However, cloud technology is removing this limitation by enabling instantaneous access and consumption of the technology needed to play in this digital revolution.
- Digital core and predictive analytics: Generating daily reports is not sufficient for a Live Business. With a digital core, you can instantaneously process real-time information about back-office activities and front-office performance, and analyze it to get an in-the-moment view of the company, and take decisive action accordingly.
- Social collaboration: When it comes to the buying experience, how you treat your employees and suppliers weighs as much as how you serve your customers. You want the fastest, most qualified talent available to please your customers. Plus, you need a cost-effective supplier network that can help deliver on your promise of high quality and value. By attaching technologies such as employee management, social collaboration, and business supplier networks to your digital core, you gain access to a 360-degree view and governance of your Live Business.
The great news about these technologies is their ability to evolve along with your company. As your firm matures and expands, your technology infrastructure can scale to fit your company and your customers’ needs. And although technology is also advancing at lightning speed, your business is better equipped to take advantage of the latest innovations because the digital architecture is already in place to consume them.
Gone are the excuses for not becoming a Live Business. You need the determination, fortitude, and vision to see it through. Digital technology can help guide you along the journey.
To learn how your business can become a Live Business, check out Forbes Insights’ recent report “Doing Business In-the-Moment: How SMBs Run Live in the Digital Economy.” For additional insights about this research, check our entire series “The Road to Live Business.”