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Five Ways SMEs Can Turn Digital Disruption Into Competitive Advantage

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By Hayley James, Managing Director : Ampersand Executive, Search & Advisory

 

Today there are looming challenges that are moving in on how we do business. These changes apply to the many small and medium sized businesses and will affect those owners who are leading their companies through digital change against a backdrop of complexity, volatility and ambiguity. Alister Dias shows us five ways that can turn digital
disruption into competitive advantage – reference www.smartcompany.com.au.

In order to take advantage of a new business world driven by the mega trends of social, mobile, cloud and analytics there are five things to look to from Alister’s point of view.

* Security Comes First

High level risks occur when these mega trends open up opportunity. Leaders should be very much aware of this danger. An annual survey in 2015 of Chief Executives found that 93% of 161 CEO’s in Australia and New Zealand were concerned about the level of risk associated with the digital world. Two out of three expressed further concerns that risk management practices were being outpaced by digital developments.

* Software Defined Everything

Building a software defined data centre that extends to public and private cloud will be the quickest and cheapest way to provide and manage resources by automating processes. Previously it took 12 weeks to provision resources through traditional procurement models, which now can be completed in 12 minutes. A process that once had more than 30 steps can be collapsed into one or two.

These functions will have the effect of driving costs down. Once you have installed this system into your business, you have your own private cloud. If you can link to external servers, then you have a hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud should form part of all discussions because it will drive IT costs down, deliver greater value and provide opportunities for innovation, allowing smaller businesses to compete with larger organisations.

If you decide that building your own hybrid system is too difficult, then you can always employ a service provider. Today, there are many providers who specialise in hosting clouds for SMEs.

* Beyond Your Four Walls

We are shown that outside our business there is so much data available to help us manage our businesses. This has come about because of the information available through social media trends and mobile customer behaviour. We now exist in a world of competitive advantage and by collecting this data we are able to search for patterns using real time analytics.

As businesses become aware that they can tap into accessing information from public resources, then the cost of doing business in this field reduces. The public cloud becomes a quasi associated asset of the company in this regard and their private company becomes automated.

* Responsive Development

Rapid development of mobile applications that can be deployed into any cloud environment becomes critical. Already the majority of customers are talking about increasing speed into the market. This is a difficult move for many customers and this is why they are looking for key ways in which to design their IT requirements.

In this world businesses are disrupted by digital disruption, and so regardless of which business you operate in, or how big your business is, quickly developing and releasing applications to customers has become crucial to competing effectively. It’s how you win customers and build loyalty amongst those who already use your services and products. Those who do a good job will prosper, those who don’t will struggle to remain relevant.

* Embracing the mobile workforce

Productivity will be boosted when you enable your people to work from anywhere and on whatever device they choose, particularly when you have a smaller workforce who can’t be everywhere at once.

A global survey of workforce trends revealed that two out of three reported using their personal devices for business. Alister says, “This is how the latest generation of employees expects to work.” In order to attract the talent, business must be prepared to meet those expectations. This means managing a broad band of devices, provisioning, securing and managing them even if they’re not part of your standard operating environment.

There is no doubt that the way we do business now has changed forever. Just think for a moment. Telegrams have disappeared, filing cabinets are a rare sight, letters and the way we pay our accounts have been replaced by the Internet, even facsimile machines raise a smile on our faces when we reflect back on this now outdated invention. We should all direct our thinking towards improving our own performance, the performance of our business and service to our customers through adopting the digital approach.

Changes are expected by all in the modern working environment and to ignore the call to arms or should I say the use of digital devices in our businesses will only guarantee underperformance. As a business owner it is my responsibility to encourage change and provide the necessary support to enable the changes to occur and be ongoing.

There are challenges of course. We must do our homework, research, find the best ways to embrace digital change in applying it to how our business operates. Importantly, it¹s about our customers. What they want, expect of us and how how we can fulfil their needs. Avoid at all cost the temptation to see these developments as disruptive tasks to our daily responsibilities. Proper risk management practices should never be compromised as the speed of change continues to increase. Again it is management’s responsibility to oversee that our risk management works hand in glove with our new digital world.

Once our digital platform is connected then our costs of doing business will reduce. Our software will be connected to either a private or public cloud which will support the reduced cost margins. Our digital world will provide us with a platform to enable us to confidently plan ahead.

Speed in delivering to the market will be assured and our teams will have the hardware and software to support them in these exciting, progressive endeavours.

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