5 top challenges for small businesses undergoing digital transformation

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Written by Michael Dehoyos, Web developer at PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits

Companies that go through a digital transformation usually will gain increased customer engagement, higher market share, better employee morale and higher revenue. There are some challenges associated with digitisation of a small business, which partially depends on the level of digitisation, the size of the company, and more. With this in mind, we compiled a list of the 5 most common challenges that came up time and again in discussions with businesses that have gone through the process and solutions to face them. These challenges, as you’ll see, are mostly due to internal factors as opposed to the technology or tools available.

1. Mitigate Employee Pushback

It’s natural for people to like routine and fear or mistrust change. This can be especially true for digitisation since employees can often feel uncomfortable and even threatened when technology is introduced, as they might be worried their jobs will be replaced by automation. What has to be made clear though, is that change is necessary for your business to keep up with the competition, and digitisation is crucial for your company. It may be hard to dispel all the doubt your employees have but there’s a lot you can do to ease their worries. Start by being transparent and clear about the process. Keep everyone informed and engaged from start to finish, and include them in the process. Offer education and training sessions so they don’t feel overwhelmed by the new changes.

2. Develop a Strategy

The last thing you want to do is make these changes without planning in advance or having a goal in mind. A suggestion from Rita Greer, a tech writer at Australia2Write and Next Coursework, is that “before you begin, write down a clear vision for what digitisation will look like, what you hope to accomplish with it, and set goals and milestones. This will give everyone a purpose and understanding of the process and will engage all parts of your organisation as opposed to one person or division.”

3. Consult Experts

The digital transformation process requires a talented workforce and technology working together. As Robert Kruger, a data manager at Brit Student and 1Day2Write explains, “your team needs to be able to understand the technology and be able to innovate themselves. This is where training can pay off so that all parts of your organisation can help with digitisation. If you’re not yet at this point, consider reaching out beyond your business to experts in the field that can come on board to help manage the process.”

4. Revise your Organisational Structure

Your digital transformation initiative may need to go hand in hand with an overhaul of your organisational structure. You may have to change roles, merge or separate departments, or change the structure completely so that it makes more sense with your digital plans. Your structure should be fluid and able to change so that your technological advances, business data, and customer experience can benefit from a flexible organisation. Even though one person or department has managed a certain aspect of the organisation thus far is not a sufficient reason to have it continue this way. It’s not too late to make changes that will energise your team and their roles and expand the vision or scope of the company.

5. Keep Tabs on Your Budget  

You may not be able to have the complete digital transformation that you want for your organisation due to financial constraints. Be aware of this from the start, and of the fact that through the process your budget may have to be modified. When you’re developing your digitisation strategy, develop your budget in hand to see how much you’re able to put into digital transformation. Don’t try to do everything at once, especially if you have meaningful changes to make.

Separate your financial plan into multiple phases that can take place over a few years if needed and avoid spending money you don’t have thinking you need to transform everything immediately.

These five challenges are the most common experienced by big and small businesses alike, although there are many more out there. The important thing is to build the foundations first before starting digitisation: the strategy, the budget, and the vision.

Michael Dehoyos, a web developer at PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits, help companies develop digital and social marketing strategies and is at the forefront of the digital transformation conversation. He has also written many articles on the subject of digitization and technology developments for the academic service Case Study Help.

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