Preparing for digital transformation

01 Nov 2017


2017 is shaping up to be the year of “digital transformation” as the term enters mainstream business conversations in almost every sector of the economy.

According to Wikipedia, digital transformation is “the change associated with the application of digital technology”. Examples of this are not difficult to find. Everyone knows about the impact that Grab and Uber are having on the transportation industry, the disruptive effect of AirBnB on the hotel sector, and how financial technology (or fintech) companies are rattling the big banks. Caught between these companies that are “born digital” and the large corporations of the traditional business world, do other SMEs stand a chance?

This is where digital transformation gets interesting and can be parlayed into an advantage for SMEs. According to an IDC study on “Thriving in the Digital Economy: How small and midsize enterprises are adapting to digital transformation”, nearly half of decision makers believe that “technology levels the playing field for small businesses versus larger corporations”, and 40.8 per cent believe that their size is an advantage over larger companies that are not able to move quickly enough to take advantage of digital innovation.

So how can SMEs make use of technology to level the playing field and move faster than their much-larger counterparts?

A good starting point for SMEs is to make use of technology to remove friction in their operations, allowing them to optimise their use of manpower resources and respond more quickly to new business opportunities.

For example, business IT applications like Office 365 enable employees to work in the office, off-site or on-the-go by allowing documents, spreadsheets and presentation slides to be created, edited and shared from the desktop or any mobile device. It also allows them to connect with customers and colleagues seamlessly through a range of communication tools such as email, Instant Messenger and Skype, while enabling the company to retain branding through the use of business-class email addresses.

Human resource management systems (HRMS) like iWV-Rymnet help reduce the effort needed for time-consuming tasks such as recruitment, payroll administration, appraisal and leave administration, automating many of these processes so that the HR department can focus on more strategic talent planning and development issues.

Beyond boosting efficiency across the company, business IT solutions also prepare SMEs for digital transformation by helping them to make more effective use of data to shape their competitive edge.

Solutions like iWV-Rymnet centralise HR-related information in a single source, making it easier for management to mine the data for strategic insights that will help them with manpower planning.

iWV also offers Business Intelligence-as-a-Service (BIaaS), a set of tools to help SMEs improve their business forecasts and reduce uncertainty in decision-making. C-Analysis, for example, consolidates business information into a single data store to provide a 360-degree view of the health of the business. Customised dashboards enable SMEs to track key performance indicators while business dignostics helps analyse results, identify cause-and-effect relationships and pinpoint opportunities and threats. Another tool, Power BI, enables SMEs to monitor data from across the organisation and the different applications that are being used. It connects, shapes, visualises and shares data insights, providing a holistic view of the key metrics for the business.

Delivered through the cloud, these business IT services enable SMEs to level up by giving them access to the latest technologies without having to fork out huge sums of money for on-premise hardware or software, or having to invest in IT manpower resources to maintain the applications. In doing so, they help businesses to build a strong digital foundation that will enable them to innovate and thrive in this era of digital transformation.