Road To Digital Competitiveness Transformation for SMBs

Entrepreneurs must consider the most cost-effective ways to proceed on the path to digital competitiveness transformation. This will assist them in staying on top of their digital ambition and mitigating the risks associated with a lack of digital literacy.

This year’s budget has “Digital India” as a pillar towards a robust economy for India @100, with immediate focus on financial sector that covers India across demographic differences. The Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) will thus find themselves in an even higher digital tide which was already underway due to the pandemic. Many more citizens of the country along with regulatory processes will become digitally aligned and digitally mature creating a huge market opportunity or market risk depending on the organisational readiness. Thus, Digital Competitiveness Transformation needs to become the number 1 agenda for organisations across sectors.

Digital transformation to be competitive perforce involves a journey that goes beyond initial website ecommerce enablement and siloed business applications. Especially when it seeks to deliver competition beating advantages such as a) Enabling broader market access, b) reduce costs of production, c) enhancing customer experience & brand loyalty, d) Improving business insight & decision making for business growth, e) de-risking from data loss, and f) improving personnel productivity, amongst many other benefits.

Such a transformation however is beyond the skills of most entrepreneurs. Creating a roadmap that is customised to the business at the lowest investment outlay, with immediate and strategic milestones keeping in mind the evolving technologies, become paramount. This is best managed with one of the four options 1) taking on Tech Co-founder as a Service, 2) installing a tech consultant, 3) partnering with a digital transformation vendor with consulting capabilities, and d) taking incremental steps till the organisation is ready to exercise one of the first three options. The business competitiveness possible to be derived reduces as we go down the options and each entrepreneur needs to balance as per their context.

Take the case of EnsembleNaturals, a D2C venture focused on natural herbal and essential oils based wellness products. It was started during the lockdown as a bootstrapped organisation. The Founder quickly realised that going increasingly digital was the only way forward with increasing sales volumes. The ecommerce enabled website and ecommerce market places had to be managed along with physical retail distribution and robust social media outreach. Given the complexities involved and efficiencies desired she is taking the help of digital transformation partner to chart out the future roadmap.

Regardless of the option being exercised, all entrepreneurs must keep in mind the most frugal ways to proceed on the road to digital competitiveness transformation. This will help them stay on top of their digital destiny and mitigate risks of digital literacy deficiency.

Today having a website with basic ecommerce capabilities is one of the simplest implementations for enabling Direct2Consumer capabilities. Listing the products and services in 2-3 popular ecommerce marketplaces is also something that most SMBs have already initiated. According to RedSeer Indian ecommerce market is expected to see its biggest growth of 45% with the sector reaching almost $55 billion in sales. However, as the sales and number of D2C channels increase the entrepreneur should look at professional help for omnichannel management.

Upgrading the capabilities of existing accountancy software with the help of latest modules being offered by that vendor is another milestone in the digital journey. This will help add advance capabilities with limited need for training / hiring additional staff.

Further on the digital competitiveness transformation road, global technological trends need to be considered and solutions adopted that best suit the need. The ubiquitous SaaS model enables organisations to begin small till they are ready to fully commit. Some of the global trends include Conversational Commerce, AI-as-a-Service, End to end Supply Chain management, Big Data, Advanced Analytics & Decision Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, Smart Document Transformation, and Customer Loyalty / Relationship Management.

Like EnsembleNaturals there are thousands of SMBs that are in various stages of business and need to actively consider digital competitiveness transformation to realise the future that they have envisioned for their venture and their lives. The way forward is to keep moving on the road rather than wait for the right time / optimum funds availability or else it may be too late.

The views expressed above are those of Arun Meena, Founder & CEO, RHA Technologies.

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