Digital Disruption: How SMEs can Adapt to Change

We have been hearing all over the news in recent years of ‘digital disruption’. But what does this actually mean and what are the implications for SMEs?

Business models have transformed in a short span of time, and traditional approaches especially in internal functions of marketing and operations, no longer work as well in attempts to cater towards an ever changing generation of employees and consumers.

Over the years, there has been an emergence of a start-up culture by the new generation who understand the desires of their peers.These are new businesses that have been born and bred with technology flowing through their veins, where digitization comes as part of their DNA. Traditional businesses must come to terms with the inevitable outcome of digital change, and perhaps it is now the right time to consider adopting measures to adapt in this new business environment.

Businesses are constantly changing because of digital technologies. SMEs can adapt to digital disruption by applying three tips – Identify, Promote, and Time.

First step: Identifying your current standpoint & business needs

The approach towards digitising your business does not necessarily refer to taking all aspects of our business online. This is a huge misconception. The use of digital technology is to optimise your operations, improve products and services and ultimately create a better experience for your customers. Depending on your business needs, it will not be wise to limit your investments solely to general perceptions of what the incorporation of digital change entails.

Key questions are:
1. What does my business need to keep up with my competitors?
2. How far away is my business from the new successful business models today?

Second step: Promote culture of change amongst employees and management

Employees are the heart of any business. It is only with a strong workforce, who are equally devoted to the business and believe in the company’s direction, will the strategies for change be driven towards success.

Management must also be supportive of change and innovation. Without ownership of leaders within the company, not only will there be a lack of commitment to ensure success of digital strategies, but the misalignment of culture may cause a setback despite having the right measures of adapting change for the business.

Last step: Time your business change

Another huge misconception is that digital disruption hits industries all at once. Whilst true that the world is changing fast, being quick to jump on the bandwagon may prove too much for your business to bear and may wind up faltering.

Sometimes it is necessary to deal with the changes by simply allowing it to unfold as time goes by. It is often difficult to be certain of where the markets are moving towards, and quite often the changes you read in the media are simply just a fad. With foresight and a development strategy ready on hand, you will be equipped to make better informed implementations in your business that have the flexibility of adjusting according to the real direction of digital change.

In conclusion, although the business landscape is constantly changing due to new and emerging digital technologies, successful companies can certainly adapt to digital disruptions with the simple, three-step strategy summarised below:
1. Identify your current standpoint and business needs
2. Promote a culture of change amongst employees and management
3. Time the change of your business