This is the second blog in a series on growth.
To survive and thrive, any organization needs to grow, as we mentioned in our last post. Today, one of the most powerful ways to grow is by embracing technology to transform the business. Here at Concur, we know small and medium-sized businesses can get big traction by harnessing technology. We have seen our customers get bankable savings by automating travel, expense, and vendor invoice processing online. But this is part of an even wider trend.
Stronger, faster, better
Information Age summarized beautifully a study IDC did for our parent company, SAP, saying SMBs that have embraced digital technology show faster growth than companies that have not. Digging further into the IDC InfoBrief entitled Thriving in the digital economy is riveting – in the beginning, it notes that almost all small and mid-sized businesses have some digital transformation resources in place, but notes that “effective deployment and integration are needed to bring your firm to the next level…” And who doesn’t want to do that?
Further along the journey
The IDC InfoBrief draws a direct link between digital transformation and growth, pointing out that “faster-growing companies are further along on the digital transformation journey.” Specifically, 38% of high-growth companies (annual revenue growth of 10% and more) say they’re well underway in applying technology – nearly double the figure for organizations that are seeing “flat or declining growth.” The IDC study noted that many companies, especially smaller ones, underestimate their digital transformation progress. They apparently don’t realize that collaboration software, e-commerce, and other resources are already setting their feet on that road.
Play with the big kids
The IDC InfoBrief says it flat out: “New technology related to digital transformation improves the ability of small and midsize companies to compete with larger firms.” To many this is central: 62% of high-growth companies told researchers: “Our active participation in the digital economy will be essential to our company’s survival in the next 3-5 years. Even more of the high performers ̶ 64% ̶ told IDC that “new processes and advanced digital technology have helped free up resources and allow us to grow our business.”
New data, Big Data
Besides making business more efficient, digital technology generates data – a lot of data. And the data becomes an engine for growth. Of the high-growth survey respondents, 54% told IDC they use new business intelligence and analytics to streamline business practices, and 46% of those high performers said such information is changing the way they do business.54% of high-growth organizations mentioned support for data-driven decision making.
And a significant portion indicated having those facts at their fingertips gives them new insights on operations – 47% cited internal operations, 41% external, including customers and supply chain.
The SAP-sponsored IDC InfoBrief details three critical points to remember about embracing the technology transformation:
- Digital transformation is continual – it’s not “one and done.” It’s more about coordinating a growing portfolio of digital assets. And remember, your staff is making this trip with you – do what you can to make sure they’re on board.
- The benefits are clear and enhance many sides of your business – embracing technology lets you both generate insights and sharpen business processes.
- It’s about information flow, and not just your internal metrics. Those are important, but you need to keep listening – to your own knowledgeable staff, customers, and technology sources. This doesn’t just happen – you need to consciously put the machinery in place.
It might sound complex, but taking small steps in this direction can have big advantages. It’s certainly exciting, and if you do it right, embracing business technology – which nowadays means automating key processes in the cloud – can help keep you in the elite ranks of those high-growth companies.
One of the best places to start embracing technology is in the area of expense management. Stepping away from old-fashioned spreadsheets and paper invoices to online, automated expense reports and bill pay processes saves time, money, and resources, and makes your people more efficient and satisfied. See how Concur can help you grow.
For more insight on the journey to digital transformation, see Which Comes First For Small And Midsize Enterprises: Digital Transformation Or High-Revenue Growth?