There was a time when going digital meant having a website.
Then came a time when going digital meant adopting new-age technologies like the cloud or going mobile.
We are talking about a period less than a decade ago. In the last two or three years, digitalisation has become more expansive. Today, digitalisation is all about leveraging technology to become more accessible to customers, make business processes efficient and create innovative solutions that can drive business value.
That’s because today’s consumers are all in for digital experiences. In fact, digital touch points have become their primary experience.
From having to wait for a few days to retrieve a charger they left at a friend’s place across town, to getting it back in a matter of minutes through a personal concierge app, from travelling hundreds of kilometres for a site tour of a manufacturing hub in another city, to getting a 3D virtual tour of the facility, life has transformed for the most average customer, both at an individual and business level.
In essence, this means that unless a business can offer a digital experience, they may soon become irrelevant.
Having caught or driven the digital bandwagon, large enterprises continue to stay in sync and adopt new technology trends, becoming the early adopters. With technology as the foundation stone for home-grown solutions and products, today’s new-age startups are quite the disrupters. SMEs and mid-market companies are stuck somewhere between the two. Some have gone digital, reinvented their business model, reaping more business value, some are in the process of digitalising their business, but a whole lot of them are yet to make a start.
The reasons for not having gone digital range from uncertainty whether technology is imperative to their business (for instance, a manufacturer who supplies soles to large shoe-making companies), the assumption that new-age technology is expensive and unaffordable and that technology is too complex to understand and manage (for instance, the owner of a garment manufacturing hub which employs semi-skilled women). Or simply because they are caught in the hustle of running their day-to-day operations and haven’t been able to focus on the changing market dynamics.
Anecdotes about businesses which have gone digital often focus on the advantages of going online, often leading to assumptions that digitalisation is about having an online business model in place. This is especially more prevalent in a scenario where businesses are setting up online stores and choosing to set up physical stores only when the business has grown exponentially or only when the business warrants an offline presence. But the fact is, going digital is not limited to taking the e-commerce route. It’s about leveraging new technologies to build and innovate fresh and disruptive business models.
But that said, adoption of new–age technologies – be it high-speed internet connectivity, AI, or Mobility-Analytics-Cloud & Social (M-A-C-S) technologies – is not what digitalisation is all about.
Digitalisation, in whole, means adopting new-age technologies backed by a strong strategy.
Interestingly, the talk about digitalisation often revolves around business models and technologies, but ignores the human factor. That brings us to an additional aspect to be included in the definition of going digital, which is boosting the digital capabilities of the people who manage the day-to-day aspect of the business. Because until they are not part of the digital drive, the journey remains incomplete.
Once you realise the future is digital, you need to set the wheels in motion.
One key step is to collaborate with a technology leader, who has worked and helped other SMEs. Because the digitalisation process is different for different businesses, you need to map your needs, goals, budget, and define business metrics to strategise about which technology can best work for your requirement. This means that you will need the support of an experienced technology partner who, in addition to guiding you, can help you with the technology requirement.
At the YourStory-Cisco events in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, SMEs and mid-market companies will talk about their digital journey, the challenges, how they made it work for them, and how digitalisation has given them a new path to traverse.
You will hear from B2B and B2C businesses on how and why they hopped on to the digital bandwagon, how it impacted their business and, if at all, digitalisation was necessary for them. You will also get to interact with leaders from Cisco and industry bodies like SME Chambers of India, FICCI, CII, RAI, and also from the SME banking ecosystem. They will share their experience of working with SMEs and mid-market companies in their digitalisation journey, the common pitfalls which get brushed aside, and also the fact that digitalisation is as much about people as much it is about technology.
Get to know all about adopting digital technologies, building capabilities ground up and how they are leveraging the business opportunities of India’s digital economy. Did they take a structured and inclusive approach? Did they learn by making mistakes? What are some lessons they learnt along the way? And, most importantly, do they believe that the future of business is truly digital, or is it just a fad? Find answers to all this and more at the YourStory-Cisco event.