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TECHNOLOGY

5 Things Digital Transformation Will Mean For Small Businesses in 2018

Here are five things digital transformation will mean for small businesses going into 2018.

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BY Melissa Thompson - 28 Feb 2018

5 Things Digital Transformation Will Mean For Small Businesses in 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

No small business can survive without adapting to the world around it. Whether that means adjusting for employees' modern tastes and comforts, or simply staying on top of the latest trends that help companies grow. I know that I constantly ask myself what I can do today that help me achieve the company I imagine running tomorrow.

And nowhere is change more imperative today than in digital transformation. Digital transformation can be generally defined "as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers," according to Entrerpriser.com. However, while the way digital transformation may differ between small businesses, the increase in efficiency, integration, and security will have some similar, positive aspects across owning and operating a small business.

1. High tech cultures.

Not every small business will be able to afford AI integration into their workflow. However, something that every small business can do is use the lessons of technology and the companies that make them to make their workspaces better, more information driven, and more efficient. Technology can be just as much about building a better "operating system" culture for the "hardware" of your company to run on as it can be about actual tech.

At my business, we began to emphasize and empower the role of "Chief Technological Officer" or CTO. By giving the person with the most information relevant to the most customers more say in our decisions, he was able to have the agency to pull our company in directions we otherwise might not have gone had we not utilized him. While elevating a younger person was strange at first, prioritizing the right information at the right time is key to surviving in a digital economy.

2. Thinking into the future.

One of the key components of digital transformation is researching how your industry might change and understanding what you will have to do to adapt. According to a Forrester Research Report, executives predict nearly half of their market will be digital in 2020. This means that they will have to rethink not only how they distribute resources, but also how their branding might have to change if more than half their customers find them online. Digital transformation means digital understanding.

For example, at my company, we decided that in order to devote more resources to our digital component, we would shift the majority of our advertising budget from physical to digital. As a result, we also decided we needed to rebrand slightly in order to be more effective online. While it was a small shift for the image of our company, we are optimistic that small changes today will pay dividends in a digital tomorrow.

3. Definitions of value may change.

In a digital economy, the very fundamentals of the value of a business may change. Companies like IBM proved that companies willing to identify and pursue modern definitions of value are the ones that will survive.

After losing billions at the beginning of the 1990's, they realized that in a changing economy, they needed to divest from lower-margin technologies like memory chips and computers that they had invented and developed. Instead of getting insulted or stubborn about their previous models of success, IBM enthusiastically identified and pursued how modern consumers interact with them. As a result IBM is back on top and better than ever.

4. Flexibility will be crucial.

In a digital economy, flexibility will be key to success. Tech companies have to move and adapt to markets that are created and catered to at the speed of the internet. The unwillingness to be flexible, or even worse, the inability to be flexible could have disastrous results.

Just look at how giants like Yahoo were unable to retain their dominance due to the inability to keep up with the latest and best sources of revenue, while Facebook and Google continue to thrive because of their quick acquisitions of trending companies and constant move to new and innovative cash flows. Stubbornness or inflexibility on the part of any small company (mine included) will result in prospective consumers turning elsewhere for what they want, and as quickly as they can change the webpage.

5. Technology will be unavoidable.

Perhaps the most obvious way digital transformation could change small business is that aspects of business previously unaffected by technology will be computerized, digitized, and put into clouds. Everybody at small businesses, from the highest management to the first-year employee may have to extend their comfort zones by allowing technology to take over parts of their work they're not used to.

Remember making these right changes now is vital for being the company you want to be tomorrow.

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