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How SMEs Can Overcome Digitalisation Pitfalls To Combat COVID-19

COVID-19 has, unsurprisingly, impacted the world and business as you know it. It has completely changed the landscape where many SMEs operate and it’s important for businesses to adapt to these changes and implement new strategies. 

One of these strategies is digitalisation, which is now essential and no longer a nice to have. During COVID-19, and for some time to come, businesses will have to move to digital solutions to increase their productivity and improve their processes. In today's competitive market, digitalisation may mean the difference between success and failure. 

The problem is that many SMEs try to implement digitalisation strategies without proper planning. Failing to plan, in turn, blinds them to the potential pitfalls that come with the territory. 

But what are these pitfalls? What can you do to avoid them? Let's have a look at the pitfalls and some simple strategies you can use to overcome them.

Pitfalls Of Digitalisation

Many SMEs attempt digitalisation only to find that they don’t get the results they expected. Reasons for this can range from the wrong expectations to a misunderstanding of the technologies.  

Although these are two of the most common pitfalls, others can include:

  • Adopting digitalisation without understanding its purpose. Businesses may have a wrong idea of digitalisation, its usage, and its benefits.

  • A lack of experience in its usage. Business may implement digital services without much experience, leading to bad results. 

  • Lack of top-down leadership. Digitalisation strategies fail where business leaders don’t embrace the strategies themselves. This leads to resistance and lower adoption by employees. 

  • Seeing digitalisation as a quick fix. Like most things, digitalisation strategies take time before they show true results.

  • Security concerns. Going digital brings with it security risks. Businesses need to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them.

In order to avoid these pitfalls, businesses need guidance and education about the right ways to implement digitalisation. Here are some strategies you can use to ensure successful digitalisation!

Start From The Inside

For any successful digitalisation strategy, you need to know where digitalisation can make your business processes more efficient and cost effective. In other words, look where technology can supplement your business and keep it productive. 

This involves taking a holistic view of your business, looking at your challenges, your goals, where you can improve and how technology can help.  Knowing where to implement technology can assist you with determining what you need to implement to stay relevant. 

Work From The Top

Digitalisation should be a strategic initiative across the entire enterprise and be interconnected between different departments. For this, you need strong leadership and a cohesive approach. 

A major stumbling block to implementing any new business strategy is employee resistance. It's not that employees don't want to implement new processes, but rather that they lack the confidence to do so. Strong leadership that implements changes from the top can overcome this. 

Allow employees to provide feedback. Let them tell you what they think what works and what doesn’t. See it as making them part of the journey instead of passengers that are along for the ride. Training can go a long way in ensuring employee readiness. Invest in your employees, enabling them to upskill and think strategically for the business. 

Remember, It’s an Investment

With the economic slowdown, many businesses don’t want to incur any further spending. In fact, most businesses are looking for ways to reduce spending. So, digitalisation is not at the top of everyone’s priority list.

For many who are implementing digitalisation, they are viewing it as a short-term solution or a quick fix that they can abandon when things improve. They’re willing to spend a little now in the hopes that it will beat the current slump.

This is, by far, the wrong way to think about it. Instead, digitalisation should be utilised as a long-term investment that can help with recovery and ensure further and future success. With it, you can surge out of COVID-19 and weather future storms. 

Keep It Safe

Implementing digital and technology solutions in your business comes with inherent security risks. This is because these solutions use employee data, customer data, and business data. This means that, if these solutions are not implemented correctly, your and your customers’ data can be at risk.

Make sure you prioritise the necessary steps to ensure that this data is protected and safe. Do this by promoting cybersecurity among employees and having the necessary safeguards in place.

A Final Word

Digitalisation is now imperative for businesses wanting to survive and thrive in tough times. It can be your business's ticket out of COVID-19 and your pathway to future success. 

Implementing digitalisation in your business can be daunting but remember, you don't have to go at it alone. For more information about how digitalisation can help your business or how to implement it, talk to the experts at FinXL.