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Digital transformation of SMEs: an easier path to travel than you think

Digital SMEs grow revenue and profits up to twice as fast as their offline counterparts.

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Depositphotos.com

Paying for a coffee through an app on your cell phone or buying a product through a tablet in department stores is already common in big cities. However, most small and medium-sized businesses , which are the engine and backbone of the local economy, still have a way to go to migrate to being fully online.

Many small and medium-sized businesses ( SMEs ) have the impression that digital transformation is out of their budget, but they are likely going through some method of digital transformation without even realizing it. This comes in a wide variety of actions and forms, from adding chat buttons to your website, to perfecting digital content management strategies.

According to a study by Google and KPMG, digital SMEs grow revenue and profits up to twice as fast as their offline counterparts. Induction of digital platforms enables them to discover new market opportunities, driving overall growth. This is not only reflected in the profits of the business, but they also employ up to five times more people compared to those who are offline.

However, SMEs are going through a level of technological maturity in different stages and speeds, from family stores with products without barcodes, to those more tech-savvy companies that use data to optimize their logistics or inventory. And we also find those businesses that have adopted basic technology in the cloud, but still do not take advantage of the data it provides, which would help them increase their profits. That said, today, no matter what the size of the company, its location or its line of business, technology is an ally for the success of all companies . Here are some recommendations to cross the digital divide that will allow SMEs to have a global reach.

First, it is key to consider the business need. Each digital transformation strategy looks different, because each company experiences unique needs and pursues its own goals. Therefore, the foundation of any solid transformation is the complete documentation of the company's needs. Modeling the business process up front allows you to prioritize specific concerns and question which tasks are slowing down delivery times. For example, defining what activities are time-consuming and can be automated, or what data should be accessible to improve customer experiences.

SMEs are going through a level of technological maturity in different stages and speeds / Image: Depositphotos.com

On the other hand, having a digital presence is a non-negotiable to be competitive. A website is not enough, it must be optimized to meet the needs of both business and consumers. This must take into account the end customers to be able to introduce them into the sales funnel in an efficient way. They also need to make sure their website is mobile-friendly as there are over 3 billion users with smart mobile devices.

Another important recommendation for SMEs is that they take advantage of data to anticipate their business strategies. The digital age is based on data that all types of companies can analyze, regardless of their size. This allows them to study user behavior and make better decisions. The user's previous interactions is information that can be analyzed to know how a user would react in a particular situation, so that the company can anticipate these behaviors.

Finally, digitization is something that must be seen at the integral level of the business. Users are not platform specific, rather they are looking for an integrated experience when interacting with the business either online or physically. This requires companies to have an omnichannel presence to promote their products and services and reach their audience. Having a strategy that digitizes all areas of the business will also facilitate operations.

I would like to close by minimizing the fear of the word "transformation" in small and medium-sized businesses. Thinking about a change can generate concern, but this transformation does not have to happen suddenly. It is possible to start small, but the important thing is to be constant in order to reach the goal with force, prioritizing business needs and dividing the strategy into phases. For this, it is possible to rely on tools that already exist and are free, such as Google for SMEs , which offer a guide to integrate tools at a recommended rate.

Digital transformation is a path that all SMEs must begin to follow in order to keep up with their consumers, so it is better to start earlier, even with a small step.