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Overcoming Challenges On The Road To Digital Transformation Digital transformation is no longer an option for businesses, but a necessity. For most startups, it is a matter of survival in the evolving business landscape.

By Amin Al Zarouni Edited by Aby Thomas

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Advanced technologies have transformed the way people communicate, collaborate, and interact with business. The impact has been so great that digital transformation is no longer an option for businesses, but a necessity. For most startups, it is a matter of survival in the evolving business landscape.

Digital transformation has become an implementation strategy for businesses that are striving to maximize revenue, productivity, and customer experiences. Startup founders fighting to stay ahead of their competition are looking to implement digital technologies to improve and transform the way we live and work. Thus, it is vital to set clear benchmarks and understand the issues at hand to enable a successful digital transformation.

1. People drive technology We all tend to forget that it is not the software that runs the company; it is the people. At the heart of any successful digital transformation process is the human experience, and the most successful companies have a people-first approach that drives innovation and creates strong, emotional connections through shared value creation.

When employees fully understand the goal behind the adoption of a new technology system, the path for a seamless experience is paved– increasing receptiveness to the new software system, providing them actionable insights, enabling self-service support, and ensuring positive returns on investment.

Building on the above, entrepreneurs must realize that digital transformation is more than just software adoption. Embodying a digital-first mindset calls for an understanding of the potential of digital tools, and then applying them in a proper manner to transform the way we work and live. Developing a culture of employee engagement and total accountability will inspire an environment of rapid learning and application, bringing about transformative and positive changes across the board.

2. Investment concerns This is by far one of the biggest challenges for startups, as investing in digital transformation often means investing in the unknown. Many entrepreneurs would rather spend their capital on marketing and manpower, putting off technology investment to a later stage. Lack of knowledge about available technologies and the inability to predict future digital trends, often make entrepreneurs delay such significant upfront investments.

Entrepreneurs can allocate their budget in a 40-30-30 scheme to begin with– 40% on people and talents, 30% on marketing and business development activities, and 30% on tools and technologies. This is not a set rule, but it will ensure a fair allocation of capital across the three core pillars needed for growth.

Related: Rethinking Leadership For The Digital Era

3. Processes must be digitized Often, startups based on a digital product –such as an application to order/deliver F&B, or an e-commerce platform– function under the assumption that they are already digital, missing the vital point that their internal processes need to be automated and digitized too. However, since technology is a valuable business enabler, such enterprises too require regular updating of internal systems to improve processes, expand production and continue to remain competitive, efficient, and flexible.

4. Your business is a digital business Think digital right from the beginning. Understand how digital drives the business, and align your decisions accordingly. Explore digital offerings that will generate value. Digital is not just an IT project; adopting a digital first approach can lead to the creation of new business models, revenue streams, and creates a unique customer experience. It can also trigger diversification, much like Uber or Careem –two companies that have neither assets nor people- that went from platforms that manage people transportation, to food, and now even goods.

Use the technologies in hand and improve your digital use of technology as you grow. Do not fear the scattered systems, fear the loss of data that will entail if you do not utilize a system, and the overheads that will accumulate unnoticed.

At my enterprise, Sahab Smart Solutions, as the key facilitator of Sharjah's digital transformation agenda, we believe in working through a strong ecosystem of partners and customers to help startups in the Emirate scale their operations in a more agile way, and reimagine their businesses to drive meaningful impact.

Through our association with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), Sahab will continue to support startups in their digitization journeys. We believe that the market can be led by specialized startups in different domains, and seek to involve them in our projects to build products that are beneficial to our clients.

Related: Engagement Drivers: Five Digital Trends Businesses Should Tap Into In 2021

Amin Al Zarouni

CEO, Sahab Smart Solutions

Amin Al Zarouni is the CEO of Sahab Smart Solutions. Sahab was established in 2018 as part of Sharjah Asset Management’s portfolio. With an aim is to contribute to the digital revolution, the business specializes in digital solutions, business applications, and IT services that will enable its clients to digitally transform their way of living. 


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