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How to step into the digital economy for SMEs

The digital economy has been a hot topic in recent years. Where it was once seen as a “nice-to-have” for businesses, it is increasingly becoming an essential part of operating a business. But what makes up the digital economy and how can SMEs step into this new fourth industrial revolution?

What is the digital economy?

According to Deloitte, the digital economy can be defined as “economic activity that results from billions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, devices, data, and processes.” This translates to an economy which uses digital technology for the production and consumption of services and goods. This technology is also used in marketing, trading, and paying for these offerings.

With digital technology starting to affect every part of a business how do you step into it?

STEP 1: Be a permanent student of your industry

Yes, technology and the advances being made in artificial intelligence can look scary but then again, the first car must have been hair-raising to see for those who preferred the horse-and-cart or even walking. Change has been opposed since Plato. Therefore to successfully enter a digital economy you need to have an open mind about what technology can do for your business or industry. Read articles about breakthrough technologies and what technologies are being developed in your industry. This will help you to review technologies and see which ones will truly benefit your business.

STEP 2: Upskill your staff

With the adoption of more technology in your business to improve growth and efficiency, it will be critical to upskill your staff so they can operate in this digital-first environment. You will need to look at digital skills as well as management and soft skills. This will help to improve your employees’ experience at your business.

STEP 3: Improve customer service

Customers are getting more and more used to convenience and getting things when they ask for them. Your customer service must be impeccable. Make sure that you give a smooth buyer’s journey from their first interaction with your product until after-sales service. If you are getting recurring complaints in a certain section of your business, then it might be time to review your business process and see what you can implement to make the processes easier for your client.

STEP 4: Review your offering

First, it is critical to have a clear understanding of who your core client is. You can also get a better understanding of your clients by reviewing your website’s data and any industry data to see what habits or interests they have. Then you can use this data to inform how you can change your offering or how you can market your product, so it speaks directly to the pain point you are solving. Remember, as a business you are selling a solution to your ideal client’s problem.

STEP 5: Transform in stages

Digital transformation can happen in stages. When you are choosing technologies ensure they will be able to grow with your business or are easy to transfer to different pieces of technology. Start with the areas in your business which are stumbling blocks and see how technology can help to automate and simplify the business process to make it more efficient for everyone in your business.

By following these five steps, you will be able to transform your business to participate in the digital economy and grow from strength to strength.

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