What are the biggest digital transformation challenges for SMEs?

digital transformation

Digital transformation describes the process a business goes through in adopting new digital technologies to improve business processes, services and customer experiences. In an ideal world, these digital technologies can help to modernise processes, optimise workflow, strengthen security and, ultimately, increase profitability. Unfortunately, for many SMEs the process of digital transformation presents significant challenges. With many SMEs now feeling the pressure to integrate the newest trends and innovations, what is the best approach they can take to overcome these digital transformation challenges?

What are the challenges of digital transformation?

Digital transformation can vary greatly for SMEs, from comprehensive, companywide IT projects to the instillation of new applications, assisted AI, such as ChatGBT, or cloud computing solutions. But, no matter the context, at the heart of the challenge SME’s face with digital transformation is change; not only in adopting these new technologies, but in the new structures, processes and awareness that must also go with it.

As well as this, for some SMEs, the drive for digital transformation is an external pressure in order to remain competitive, efficient and profitable within demanding markets and tight cash flows.

Sadly, when these two factors are put together, the rate of failure in digital transformation projects is high. A 2021 study from business strategy experts BCG revealed that around 70% of digital transformation programs are not successful and fail to reach their stated goals, which can cost companies dearly.

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What are the key factors for success in your digital transformation?

A clear strategy

For the successful implementation of new digital technologies into a business, a clear strategy that is adopted companywide is required.
Initially, a thorough review of the technology should take place with all the key stakeholders. Communication and training need to be kept up with staff throughout the transition process. And the transition should be regularly reviewed to make sure it is hitting the intended goals. This is especially important in our continually changing digital landscape where new technologies are coming into the market regularly and, with it, customer expectations are changing more rapidly.

A clear strategy will also outline the process for implementation, which may need to be staggered due to budgetary constraints and other operational demands.

Working with specialists

SME’s face a particularly challenging task in filling the digital skills gap within their organisation, which does not bode well for choosing and implementing new digital technologies. By working with a specialist, you will gain the expertise you need in areas such as cloud computing, cyber security, hardware and software integration, VoIP, telephony and mobile solutions and staff training. All of which will be vital to a successful digital transformation process.

Concentrating on security and continuity

As organisations adopt digital transformations, such as remote working, greater digital processes, AI and cloud-based technologies, they will be exposed to a greater number of cyber security risks. As such, any implementation of new digital technologies should be done so with present and ongoing security in mind.

Business continuity is also key here and any transition should have adequate lead time to enable a seamless transfer.

Keeping to your budget

When it comes to digital transformation, a huge challenge for SME’s is the high costs that are involved. With such a large investment, businesses need to carefully plan their budget and invest their money in technologies that will truly enhance their organisation and offering. While the costs may be high now, investing in the right tech can provide significant savings in the future.

Working with a trusted specialist that has a thorough knowledge of the products available and how they can integrate with your business can be a real lifeline through this process. SDT specialise in working with SMEs to help them fulfil their digital transformation needs in the most cost-effective ways possible.

Find out more

If you would like to discuss the best options for your business’s digital transformation, please contact Andrew Wayman at  andrew.wayman@sdt.co.uk  or call our office on  +44 (0)1344 870062.