What is digital transformation and how it can help your SME

Experts of digital transformation, solutions for digitizing your data and production processes, you name it. The world of digital development it is varied, full of nooks and crannies where it is easy to get lost and, above all, it is one of the market segments that has never feared a crisis. At least for now. Even after going through not one, but two pandemic waves from the Covid-19 health emergency, people continue to talk about digital transformation.

As people have fewer opportunities to see each other in the real world, the need to turn their business cards and products into materials that can be spent online becomes ever more crucial. Let's take the marketing of a restaurant, but also the automation of a warehouse for an eCommerce. But also more important aspects of our lives, such as DAD - distance learning - or the digitization of medical prescriptions. Now you no longer need to go to the general practitioner to get the prescription issued: you can limit yourself to a phone call, where you will be issued a code to spend at the pharmacy to get your medicines. Not bad, huh? These, and many other aspects, are part of digitization.

We are talking about digital transformations that change the way we conceive the development, production and use of every aspect of the world around us.

If we look at the Wikipedia definition, we find the following words: a set of technological, cultural, organisational, social, creative and managerial changes associated with the applications of digital technology, in all aspects of human society.

Our world, but increased

We are going through a period of transformation in all aspects of our life. This article does not refer only to business realities, but to all those aspects of our lives that are affected by technology. We arrive home where our home automation system awaits us, we play video games or regularly consult social networks, which feed on our information that we spontaneously insert into their database.

During the Covid-19 emergency period, think about it, the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte made agreements with Chiara Ferragni to disseminate, through her very powerful social channels, correct information regarding the use of the mask. In short, we can think what we want about the power of influencers, but these events cannot be overlooked by people who, like you and me, experience the web on a daily basis.

The simplification of all processes?

The word digital transformation it is often associated with “simplification”. Those who sell digital transformation in specific sectors promise the reduction of human errors, dead times, small defects produced by manual processing and that it will be possible to formulate strategies fed by complete information – from the big picture of things. Without paperwork: everything in one screen, already related. In short, when we talk about digitization we think of better efficiency, better operations, more important diffusion and, last but not least, a reduction in costs.

Seen like this, it seems the only possible solution to an uncertain future. Yet, many companies are still afraid of change. The digital transformation uses different technological combinations that change by sector, area of ​​interest, elements of influence and many other details: from automation to computerization, up to virtualization, the Cloud, the internet of things… Names that scare . Especially to those who have always lived the company the old-fashioned way. Or to those who have lived an analog life.

Digital disruption?

Implementing digitization in an SME is a process that is never unique, never the same, never boring, and it doesn't simply involve installing a couple of extra terminals in the office, a barcode scanner in the warehouse and two or three tablets to give to salespeople. Digitization changes the product, the service, and revolutionizes the way of developing and producing. Not only. Digital transformation changes the company's way of dealing with customers and suppliers, providing a new point of view on the market and the economy.

La digital transformation it does not only concern manufacturing, but it closely affects, as we said before, all aspects of human society, from government institutions to basic citizen services, complete with information systems, scientific research and the private life of the individual.

Disruption, therefore, concerns breaking with the past in order to move forward, projecting towards the future - which is strictly digital.

The digital transformation nowadays

Sooner or later the digital transformation will come knocking on all those who want to keep up with the times. Let's think about companies. How does the small medium enterprise behave in the face of such an all-encompassing process? Not very well, actually. According to data, about two out of three companies have started a digital transformation process, of which only 50% (i.e. 1 out of 3) has decided to actually undertake structural and profound changes, which concern all aspects of the production process. Someone has made changes, of course, but only to reduce costs.

As expected, the numbers of digital transformation in Italy do not even come close to those of countries such as the UK, the United States, China and France, which are not afraid to invest in development - perhaps even on the strength of incentives and a more favorable economic ecosystem. For the most part, Italy aligns with the data of other states in the manufacturing sector and in the financial or insurance sector. But the others?

Working in this sector, one often finds oneself having to educate clients on the concept of digitization. Sometimes, he simply does not realize the potential that this process can have on his production and distribution system.

What changes after the digital transformation?

Digital transformation revolutionizes your PMI in many ways and offers you the possibility not only to manage data and reduce paperwork: it allows you to save money and make your work process more efficient. That's how:

  • Through the working ecosystem. In other words, hiring qualified staff to handle online systems will help you not only make profound and effective changes to your organizational chart, but also initiate the change in the minds of your employees.
  • Through business management. The world is constantly evolving and we cannot stay behind. Historic companies tend to maintain an old school matrix, where change struggles to take root. The basic organization of a digital company is very different and is based on technological tools that concern operational fields, administrations and services.
  • Business processes: the production and distribution processes are optimised, computerized and, where possible, automated. In addition, it also changes the way you talk to the customer, monitor his behavior to obtain valuable data to improve the service even further. There is so much to do.
  • What does the user see in the end? The user experience is the tip of the iceberg of a successful digital transformation. Thanks to the use of new tools, interactions between users and companies are simplified. This way the customer is more satisfied and you are more relaxed in dealing with him. Without delays.

How does a digital transformation start?

Contact a digital transformation expert and be prepared to introduce new operational figures within the company organization chart. Elements such as a CIO, or a Chief Information Officer and a CDO, a Chief Digital Officer. The former is a figure specialized in the integration of systems and services, while the latter is a professional with a business-oriented mentality and strong technological skills. Maybe a digital native who knows what technology can do for a strong and effective business.

The main terms on which to base a digital transformation process are the flexibility and collaboration. Digitization is a way to help the company transform itself, and it is only a tool that must change the thinking spread within the company, involving every single member of the organization.

From data analytics to deep internal transformation

A digital transformation process cannot be taken into consideration without knowing perfectly the sector to which it will have to be applied. Each reality is unique in its kind and will need unique and unambiguous elements to really implement the technologies that can make the difference.

The first question to ask yourself when you think you want to change the air in the company, therefore, is the following: what can technology do for me? But also: how can it help me optimize processes and reduce costs?

And last but not least: how can digital transformation change the way I approach business?