Getting digital transformation right can change any business for the better. But if you’re an experienced IT professional and part of a small business whose salary isn’t included, how do you decide which systems and services to buy?
Larger companies can benefit from the experience of an IT director with a dedicated technology team, but smaller organizations may not have the financial resources to hire an IT manager. Apart from the CIO.
In situations like this, it can be difficult to decide which tool to buy.
Many SMB management teams must make their own technology spending decisions rather than relying on the knowledge of in-house IT executives who understand the market.
Rory McCabe, co-founder and partner of technology analyst SMB Group, suggests that results may be mixed at best.
“One thing we always see in our research is that small businesses say figuring out which solutions work best for their business is their biggest technical challenge. .”
With limited access to IT market expertise, many SMBs rely on web searches. In an age of ever-increasing technology options, that hit-and-hop approach is unlikely to yield big results, he says.
Her company’s research shows that companies with fewer than 100 employees struggle to implement successful digital transformation strategies.
I have a big problem here. Too many SMBs make timely and effective IT spending decisions when small businesses need to use technology to leverage their inherent agility and beat their slower-moving rivals lacks dedicated technical know-how.
So how can these SMEs improve their tech status? Here are five suggestions from the experts.
1. Consider temporary fixes
With many SMBs now feeling overheated by inflation, recessionary pressures and skyrocketing bills, McCabe said appointing a full-time technical head is well below their priorities. .
“Small businesses’ first instinct is ‘keep the lights on.’ They want to keep the talent they already have and don’t mind appointing seniors,” she says.
One way to fill this gap is to appoint IT leaders on a consultative basis. According to Business Talent Group, demand for interim CIO expertise has grown 83% between 2020 and 2021.
Some small businesses may choose to consider appointing a virtual CIO (vCIO). In this case, the contractor acts as her IT lead for the organization in remote or virtual capacity.
Recruiter Nash Squared suggests that by working with a vCIO, companies can hire knowledgeable executives without the hiring process and costs associated with hiring full-time employees.
2. Join industry associations
While some small businesses may consider hiring an IT director on a temporary basis, McCabe says most companies want to avoid hiring costly consultants.
“Only a few venture-backed tech companies have a CIO or equivalent title, but the vast majority of small businesses don’t,” she says.
For SMB owners and managers looking for technology expertise without breaking the bank, McCabe offers an alternative.
“I’m a big fan of industry associations and local tech councils. People in those organizations are in businesses like yours, so they can be really great,” she says. .
“When you do networking, people call and say, ‘Hey, I’m trying to work this out. Sometimes you try something and learn that it didn’t really work, which in itself is invaluable.”
3. Find a professional scheme
Tina McKenzie, policy and advocacy chair for the Small Business Federation (FSB), says it’s more important for companies to successfully adopt technology for their employees than just to buy it.
“Leadership and management skills are important, as well as digital skills. These skills must be combined with digitalization,” she says.
McKenzie said there are various schemes small businesses can use to build their expertise.
The FSB is also encouraging UK SMEs to try out the Help to Grow: Digital scheme. This is a government-backed initiative to help SMBs select, purchase, and integrate software.
Finally, McKenzie cites Skills Bootcamps set up by the UK government as a quick and effective way to improve your digital skills. “This is an initiative that many SMBs have found useful, and I hope these are maintained and strengthened in the long term,” she says.
4. Go out
It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day concerns of running a small business, especially during times of heightened macroeconomic pressure.
However, it is also important that the team participates in the wider community and talks to different people and organizations to improve both market awareness and market awareness of the business.
Nash Squared CEO Bev White said: “How do you stand out from the crowd when there are so many players and few people know who you are?”
Her company’s research shows that small businesses (23%) are twice as likely as large companies (10%) to be very or very effective at scaling good ideas and stopping bad ideas quickly. .
SMBs must be on the lookout for novel ways to procure technical solutions to their business challenges. So attend conferences, attend meetups, attend professional events.
5. Be prepared to approach big companies
Looking beyond the corporate firewall should not mean staying within the small business sector.
A growing number of blue chip companies are recognizing that smart ideas can spring from all kinds of organizations, including small businesses.
David Schwartz, vice president of PepsiCo Labs, says his company is always looking to the market for smart solutions to business challenges.
“Startups tell us, ‘We want experts on your team to spend a few months sharing how things work, so we can further perfect what you want. You can.
“And you can see people at PepsiCo thinking, ‘That’s what we want.’ It’s about learning and focusing where we can mutually succeed.”