Why Small Businesses Should Also Have a Digital Transformation Strategy in 2022

January 7, 2022

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While it may seem hard to believe, it has already been two years since the COVID-19 outbreak and surprisingly, a lot has changed in this short time span. For instance, businesses, across the globe, finally understood the significance of an effective digital presence and had to resort to on-the-spot decisions to transition to the online landscape and continue their daily operations.

Some organizations that already had a digital presence prior to the COVID-19 outbreak had to adopt new technologies and build strategies to embrace the remote work culture. Now, since the pandemic crashed into the world at full-throttle, the majority of these strategies were covered with loopholes that acted as a barrier for smooth business operations. Particularly, small businesses with limited financial resources struggled the most while executing their operations in a pandemic-dominated environment.

Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore. With enough experience and knowledge in their arsenal, both small-scale companies and large enterprises can plan their digital transformation before stepping into a new year, i.e., 2022. Based on your individual business requirements, you can prioritize digital strategies that’ll help you streamline core business processes and deliver remarkable customer service.

To make your job easier, we have put together a detailed guide on how to plan for a result-driven digital transformation strategy for your business in 2022. Whether you want to optimize the user experience for your e-commerce brand or simply transition to the digital landscape, this guide will help you plan a custom digital strategy more effectively.

Why You cannot Ignore Digital Transformation in 2022?

Digital Transformation brings forth an array of benefits for any enterprise. By incorporating digital tools, companies can enhance efficiency, improve productivity, and reduce operations costs. However, the biggest reason why businesses must prioritize digital transformation in 2022 is its current demand in a pandemic-dominated world.

Due to its increasing demand, companies are rapidly investing in developing dedicated digital transformation strategies. According to a survey conducted by TechRepublic, 31% of IT professionals are likely to continue maintaining their digital transformation campaigns whereas 38% are planning to invest more while adapting to new digital trends.

If you also want to keep your business relevant in this tech-savvy era, it would be important to prioritize digital transformation over carrying forward the legacy system. With digital transformation, you’ll have the ability to transform complex business operations and optimize your customer services at the same time.

Technologies that Fuel an Effective Digital Transformation

Before we give away tactics to build an effective digital transformation strategy, it would be helpful to get familiar with technologies that’ll accompany you throughout this transformation. Keep in mind that all these technologies are not essential for an effective digital presence. The general thumb rule says that you should prioritize technologies that could enhance your company’s productivity and cater to your buyers’ needs.

1. Cloud-Based Solutions

While on-premises software can help companies to target a limited audience, they fail to meet the scalability requirements of large organizations. Even if you want to provide your services outside the city, you’ll need cloud support to manage the data and inbound traffic.

Unlike physical on-premise servers, cloud-based solutions can be customized to fulfill the growing requirements of a particular organization. It also enhances the overall security and creates a security bubble to protect sensitive data from hackers. Any business that wants to switch to the digital world will need cloud support to ensure better accessibility and data security.

In fact, 7 of the well-known businesses including Netflix and Pinterest have already moved to the cloud and they are indeed relishing the benefits of cloud computing. Netflix, for example, moved to a cloud infrastructure, back in 2016 and since then the subscriber count for its streaming services has ten folded.

2. 5G-Connectivity

5G connectivity is no longer a distant dream. A report by Statista reveals that the worldwide 5G subscription is forecasted to surpass the 3.4 billion mark by 2026.

Manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Nokia, and Qualcomm are setting up 5G infrastructure and already pushing its global deployment. In fact, some companies are even promoting the installation of 5G mmWave infrastructure to further enhance network efficiency and make Internet connectivity super-fast.

With industrial 5G coming into the picture, businesses will have the power to provide their services more conveniently. 5G implementation will supposedly improve latency, access to data, and make it easier for companies to uplift the overall user experience. Not to mention, worldwide 5G implementation will also promote the adoption of other technologies such as virtual reality (VR).

No doubt, there are VR headsets that work seamlessly over a regular 4G network, but the limited speed often makes the user feel nauseated. But with the 20-40 GigaBytes speed of a 5G network, users will encounter zero latency while wearing a VR headset, resulting in an immersive experience.

Now, even though a global implementation of 5G infrastructure might take another 3-4 years, businesses must stay prepared for its adoption to ensure they can stay in compliance with the market standards.

3. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is a 90’s technology that was first germinated in 1992 to help the US Air Force. Over the decades, this remarkable technology has made its way into different industries including gaming, education, and healthcare. To be honest, the real-world applications of Augmented Reality are endless. From enhancing the customer experience to helping companies market their products more effectively, AR can act as one of the most powerful digital assets for any organization.

Let’s take IKEA as an example. Back in 2017, IKEA integrated Augmented Reality in its official mobile app to optimize the customers’ buying experience. With the new version, customers could check how a particular IKEA product will look in their home by simply pointing their phone towards an empty spot at their place.

This allowed customers to browse through a list of 2,000 IKEA products and evaluate if a piece of furniture would look appealing or go with the existing theme of a particular room. With simple AR integration, IKEA managed to uplift the shopping experience and helped customers make better shopping decisions. In fact, the AR integration allowed IKEA to acquire 1.9 million app downloads across all platforms.

Following the footsteps of IKEA, many industry leaders incorporated augmented reality into their digital transformation strategies. Converse, for instance, updated their website and mobile app with a unique “Try-On” feature that allowed customers to see how a pair of shoes would look on their feet.

To do this, all they had to do was point the camera towards their feet and select a pair of shoes from the list. This helped customers try different shoes virtually and make the right decision accordingly.

4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another impressive technology that could help propel through their digital transformation journey. Believe it or not, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all around us and it has a huge impact on several decisions we make every day.

The customized shopping list you see on Amazon (that keeps on changing as per your searches) is a result of Amazon’s AI and behavior analysis algorithms. Similarly, the instant replies you get from Alexa, Siri, Google, and other voice assistants are generated by an AI algorithm that’s capable of fetching information from a huge database within seconds.

If used correctly, AI can easily contribute to the economical growth of an organization. For instance, you can optimize your company’s customer service by integrating chatbots into your website and web application. Similarly, you can invest in the development of behavior analysis algorithms to optimize the shopping experience on your ecommerce store.

Artificial Intelligence can also help organizations in detecting and eliminating security intrusions. As per a survey conducted by TCS, 80% of 835 companies are likely to invest in AI to safeguard themselves against cyber attacks.

To be honest, the applications of artificial intelligence are endless and it will become the driving force of digital transformation in the coming years.

5. Virtual Reality

Like Augmented Reality and AI, virtual reality can aid an organization’s digital transformation strategy. With 5G becoming more popular in 2022 and the coming years, businesses can provide an immersive VR experience to users. Thanks to its fast network connectivity, 5G can reduce the latency (in a VR headset) by 10 times and allow users to experience virtual reality without getting nauseated.

However, better user experience isn’t the only benefit of adopting virtual reality as a part of your digital transformation strategy. It can also help industries streamline operations such as employee training to educate the workforce in a completely safe environment.

Duke Energies, for instance, have been providing VR training to the frontline workers so that they can get familiar with the equipment and understand its functionality without putting their lives at risk.

Not to mention, employees who receive virtual training have the liberty to go over a particular concept as many times as they want without increasing the operational cost. This is a major reason why employees who undergo virtual training are more likely to retain information than those who go through conventional training.

Planning a Result-Driven Digital Transformation for 2022

As we mentioned earlier, you don’t need to incorporate all these technologies in your digital transformation strategy to attain business success.

The idea is to analyze your business requirements and then, choose technologies that could complement your digital growth and help you establish a strong brand presence. Here are a few factors that’ll help you strategize for your digital transformation strategy in 2022 and beyond.

1. Set Up Your Online Presence

First things first; you can’t expect to relish the benefits of digital transformation without having an online presence. It’s important to understand that operating an offline business in today’s tech-savvy world is nothing short of axing your own feet. Despite the quality of your services, you’ll struggle to attract new customers without a strong digital presence.

Now, when it comes to stepping into the digital landscape, you have a plethora of options to choose from. Ideally, businesses choose to develop a mobile app or website to reach their global customers more conveniently. Keep in mind that both mobile applications and websites are further divided into different categories and choosing the right one will mainly depend on your individual business requirements.

For instance, if your goal is to simply streamline complex business operations and reduce manual errors, you can invest in an ERP solution. Similarly, if you want to target a wider audience and drive more sales for your retail business, you can either launch a full-fledged website or invest in cross-platform app development to target customers across all mobile devices.

The best way to decide which digital presence will suit your business is to consult a professional development partner. Based on your business goals, a professional development partner will help you make the right decision.

2. Embrace Remote Work Culture

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly proved that the majority of businesses can run their operations remotely (without following an office-centric model). No doubt, the pandemic forced companies to adapt to remote work culture in a rush, but its series of advantages have made many organizations believe that remote working is the new future. This is why many companies, including tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Adobe, are planning to implement remote work even in the post-pandemic world.

If you are planning to sustain productivity and consistent growth, embracing remote working (or at least hybrid work culture) will be imperative. Why? Because the majority of your competitors are most likely to be doing the same. And, since employees have started prioritizing health and relaxation over salaries, companies that allow WFH are going to acquire a skilled workforce.

However, adopting the Work-from-Home culture isn’t a piece of cake, especially if your organization follows the distributed enterprise model. The biggest challenge for any organization would be to meet deadlines and attain the highest productivity. Companies would also have to think of ways to keep the employees motivated and happy while working remotely. To do this, they can start by implementing People Analytics methods and understanding the dynamics of their workforce.

Based on the results, they can proceed towards planning a remote work culture that would retain valuable employees and encourage them towards giving their 100% every day.

3. Focus on Data Protection and Data Security

Integrating new technologies to streamline business operations drastically raises security threats. Experts believe that data will become the backbone of digital transformation in the coming years. Companies would have to utilize available data to analyze customer patterns and tailor custom marketing strategies to break into new markets.

But, this would only be possible if your organization is protected by effective security mechanisms. Tudor Armand Ciuleanu, CEO at RedBelDot, believes that cybersecurity will become more important as hackers are getting smarter every day. Any organization planning its digital transformation in 2022 will have to adhere to security measures to safeguard their company’s, clients’, and even employees’ personal information against cyber threats.

4. Focus on Attracting New Customers

Apart from optimizing the user experience for your existing customers, it would also be important to implement strategies that would bring new leads. Of course, a well-planned marketing campaign would be the driving force to acquire new customers, but you would also need a few technologies to achieve effective results.

Artificial Intelligence, combined with automation, will allow you to run dedicated behavior analysis algorithms on raw data and evaluate the most potential customers. Artificial Intelligence can also help you strengthen customer service by integrating dedicated chatbots on your website/mobile app. This way every time a new customer lands on your website, an AI-powered chatbot will assist him through the initial buyer’s journey and deliver remarkable service.

Conclusion

Digital Transformation is no longer a luxury that businesses can overlook and still run their operations. With the growing popularity of technologies such as 5G, AI, AR, and automation, companies that do not focus on digital transformation will most likely struggle to retain customers for a longer duration. Of course, you can’t implement digital transformation strategies in one go. That’s why it’s better to follow a phased deployment approach while implementing digital transformation for your business. This way you can prioritize goals that matter for overall business success and implement strategies to achieve them right in the beginning. To make the digital transformation journey easier, you can hire a dedicated partner who’ll help you plan ahead and avoid unexpected pitfalls on the go.

Ranjit Singh Ranjit Singh is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at RV Technologies. In the past 10+ years, he has focused on helping clients to expand their business through the best digital solutions. Leading a team of 100+ employees, he knows how to implement the best market practices to transform a client’s business growth and help him achieve dedicated goals.

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