Catch The Wave: The Digital Revolution Arrives For SMBs

Luciano Ravenna

What’s the difference between a small business and a large enterprise? There are distinct differences, yet some fundamental similarities.

Companies small and large operate the same processes. They have the same need for service excellence, to deliver on time, to be laser-focused on the customer, and to be cash flush. And today, they face the same reality brought on by the digital age: they live in a fishbowl.

With the advent of social media, online surveys, and countless avenues for the business to be visible in the marketplace, they cannot hide. For SMBs and large enterprises alike, this always-on digital world has pushed the customer to the forefront; meeting customer expectations is the number-one driving force of every business today. From wholesale to retail, from B2B to B2C, from Austin to Zurich, customer service rules.

Deriving insights from a sea of data

One major distinction is access to data. SMBs, unlike the bigger fish, typically do not have the ability to access the oceans of data at their disposal in real time to support conscious decisions. Without it, their decision-making tends to be reactive rather than proactive. Opening a new route to market. Launching a product line. Taking an uncharted course to access customers. These are the types of opportunities companies can jump on quickly when they have access to business intelligence in real time.

How can that happen? Let me paint you a picture. Before 2007, as an individual, you probably used a lot of different devices to go about your life. You had a watch to tell time, a Walkman to listen to music, a VCR to record TV shows, a PDA for your electronic calendar, and of course, a phone. Now, a single smartphone does all that for you. You not only have access to everything you need in one device; it’s even integrated. You can use your contacts to email a calendar invitation and attach a photo or a video or a document, in seconds, so easily … just as one example.

Responding quickly and predicting intelligently

Business technology reflects the same paradigm. Most SMBs are like we all were 10 years ago, running multiple applications: one for customer relationship management, another for product fulfillment; one for ERP, another for payroll; and so on, separate and unintegrated. Their larger counterparts, on the other hand, have the equivalent of a smartphone. They have moved to a decision-support system that connects everything. By integrating their data in one environment and applying sophisticated analytics, they can gain the instant insights that let them respond quickly – whether to changing market conditions, new opportunities, or customer demands. They can predict, simulate, and plan future business outcomes.

The fact is that technology has induced us to change, and we have no choice but to move with the technology. That holds true for a 10-person startup just as it does for a brand-name multinational. If you want your business to grow, you need to ride the wave … or it may wash right over you.

Fortunately, you can climb right on board. The technology available to your larger competitors is also well within reach of SMBs today – and there are advisors that stand ready to help you begin your evolution toward digital transformation.

For more information, please visit the SAP S/4HANA Partner Packages site here.

Luciano Ravenna

About Luciano Ravenna

Luciano Ravenna has over 20 years of experience with SAP, ranging from implementations, solution sales management, integration management, consulting, project management, business development, and channel management. He is currently is the regional director of the Partner Solution Center, North America. He studied accounting and corporate governance and holds an ACIS qualification and an LDP from the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Pretoria, South Africa.