Businesses that don’t embrace digital technology stand to lose more than they will ever gain by remaining analogue. Here’s a few reasons why you need to become digitally-fit.
“Think back to how business was done a few decades ago,” says Amanda Kooser at Small Business Chronical. “There was no email, Internet, mobile marketing, tele-commuting or smartphones. Now communications are instantaneous, huge amounts of information move through email and the Internet, and powerful tools are in the hands of owners, employees and customers.”
Innovations in technology have improved operations at companies of all sizes, and ongoing tech advancement can turn small local businesses into global powerhouses.
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“Effective technology management can help businesses gain and sustain competitive advantages, ranging from incremental improvements in product quality or cost, to major breakthroughs that create new market opportunities. Management of technology must, however, be purposeful rather than hopeful and must always be connected with your company’s overall business strategy.” – MIT Sloan Management Review
The latest developments in digital technology makes it easier to do business than ever before, and it also enables companies to offer their customers easier ways to interact and transact.
Let’s unpack the importance of leveraging digital in you company:
1. Digital acuity is a necessity
It can be argued that (big) data has become the lifeblood of businesses. Those that harness the power of information unlock competitive advantages, and are able to innovate earlier than their competitors. But, introducing technologies (particularly high-tech tools) can cause tension within a business as the ‘old way’ and the new modern approach to leveraging business intelligence collide.
The reality is, you need to bring tech into the business and gain buy-in across the company. Buy-in ensures all employees are using your tech investments to move forward every day. Regardless of whether you’re a local coffee shop opting to use an integrated point-of-sale system to process drinks orders, or an e-commerce clothing boutique that offers shoppers the functionality to track their orders in real time, tech can help you do more of what customers want from companies.
Make it easy for customers to transact
While it might take time to make big strategic decisions on how to use technology to run a better business on the back end, you can act fast and already use technology to make interacting with customers a lot more convenient.
Standard Bank offers a range of convenient and mobile smart payment solutions designed to make doing business a great deal easier. SnapScan, Tap to Pay and BluMobi can simplify payments for your customers while you enjoy fast and secure cashless transactions. Simple internet-enabled IT systems and payment systems are making small businesses faster, smarter, and better organised.
2. Analytics and mobility deliver real-time (digital) insights
“Every industry, no matter how traditional — agriculture, automotive, aviation, energy — is being upended by the addition of sensors, internet connectivity, and software,” says Ron Adner, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business.
In The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See that Others Miss, Adner discusses a new approach to business ecosystem strategy. He believes that business success in today’s environment will hinge on more than just creating digitally-enabled products. “It will depend on building ecosystem-level business strategies that encompass the many moving digital pieces that come together to create the new value proposition,” he says.
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The Kodak case file
Adner says that Kodak is the poster child for innovation incompetence: “After inventing the world’s first digital camera in 1975, the conventional story goes that senior managers allowed inertia to drive it off a cliff. Kodak’s executives stubbornly rooted themselves to high-margin, analogue-photography and allowed the ‘Sonys’ and ‘HPs’ of the world pass them by.”
This Kodak case serves as a glaring example of a large company failing to adapt to disruptive technological change. “‘How could they not have seen it coming, we ask’. ‘That’ll never be my company’, we say, confident of our own willingness to adapt,” he adds.
Although Kodak got off to a slow digital fitness transformation, the company managed a successful digital transformation after a series of senior management changes. New managers came in, fresh and eager to digitally innovate, and by 2005, Kodak placed number 1 in US digital-camera sales and number 3 globally thanks to opening new retail locations and strategic leveraging of technology.
3. Connect your growing digital workforce
The workplace is no longer just a physical space that’s occupied by staff during office hours. In the digital age, the workplace is an always-on, connected world that provide instantaneous access to everything your employees need to do their jobs.
- Business experts say that the line between the physical office and the place where ‘work actually happens’ is becoming blurred. As a workplace becomes more digitally-driven, your staff and even senior managers will be able to communicate and collaborate in many new and effective ways.
- If you intelligently combine the digital technologies that many businesses are already using, your digital workplace can break down communication barriers and transform the employee and customer experience to promote efficiency, growth and innovation.
- The key to success hinges on your implementation of a digital workplace strategy. For example, when you’re assessing the digital landscape for accounting software, you need to look out for easy-to-use packages that support cloud functionality. You must also accommodate any future needs for agility, like scaling up when taking on more accountants.
Some accounting packages are available with licence agreements that cover online support and ongoing training to ensure uptime. If you pick one that integrates with online banking, it can help you manage payments, collections and cash flow better.
Related: A digital advertising bible for retailers
4. Digital solutions you can use today
As you look to move your business into the digital age to meet evolving customer and employee expectations, you need to consider the following cost-effective tools:
Do you want to accept online and mobile payments?
E-commerce/ M-commerce from Standard Bank is the ideal solution for businesses that want or need to accept card payments through Internet or mobi sites.
MasterPass enables you to accept payment directly from a MasterCard MasterPass digital wallet issued anywhere in the world.
SnapScan allows your customers to pay for products using their smartphone and is ideally suited to businesses that operate in a single till environment and process low volume transactions with low ticket values.
Do you want to offer customers more ways to pay with cards?
Autolink accepts debit and credit card payments with desktop and/or portable point-of-sale. The Autolink device can also be used as a simple solution and work independently of your till system.
BluMobi is an on-the-go mobile payments solution, offering you the convenience of processing PIN-based MasterCard and / or Visa debit and credit card payments.
Do you want to provide faster ways to pay?
Tap to Pay is a quick and easy way for your customers to pay for purchases under R200. All Standard Bank face-to-face AutoLink devices have this functionality and it is particularly useful in eliminating queues.
If you’re looking to open up a business bank account, Standard Bank provides a Business Current Account that is simple to manage and allows you to transact in the way that works best for you.
Unlock rich customer insights
Did you know that you can glean a deeper understanding of your business and what makes it tick through a simple and easy to use digital platform? CustomerView is a reporting solution that will help you better understand your Standard Bank cardholder customer base in terms of spend, age group, income bands, location of customer, gender, returning customer, first-time customer and basket analysis.
Managing a business in a highly-competitive digital landscape requires new thinking. You can’t stick to paper-based systems and processes because more and more employees and customers are preferring to engage with digitally-savvy companies. If you have a business current account, you can leverage a variety of digital solutions that make running a company less cumbersome.