Although this problem isn’t unique to small businesses, it is more common among them because they’re less likely to employ CIOs, who tend to lead long-term IT planning processes in larger organizations. But whether it has a CIO or not, every small business needs a digital strategy.
A good digital strategy seeks to align an organization’s business objectives with its technology. That includes an inventory of what it is using now; identification of the tech categories needed to drive toward the business’s goals; and guidance on how it will integrate new tech with its existing infrastructure, or whether it will consider more wholesale changes to that infrastructure. It should also define how it will manage and secure its technology over time.
In other words, it should directly address each of the tech-oriented concerns small businesses cite in surveys such as ours. The digital strategy will then inform its budget decisions.
3 Key Trends Driving Digital Strategy
Those developing or updating their digital strategies now should bear in mind three high-level trends that are now converging:
- Analytics, worker productivity and customer experience are top priorities. Small businesses most often start with these solution areas because this is where technology’s transformative power can most easily be seen.
- Cloud is king. Many SMBs were initially drawn to the cloud because it provided a cheaper and easier way to manage business solutions. But they’re now finding that modern cloud platforms also serve as a springboard to more advanced technology, such as AI and machine learning, which vendors are building into their solutions.
- The workforce is changing. As millennials enter their prime work years, employee expectations of work are shifting. Businesses must provide technologies for employees to work anywhere, anytime and to collaborate digitally just as easily as they do in person.
Small businesses are embracing technology as a driver of change. But many remain unsure about where to start their digital journeys. What I tell businesses is simple: Start with a strategy that joins the business’s unique goals with the solutions that support success.