Home Depot has amazing online ordering for the “Do-It-Yourselfer”. Check inventory, order online and pick up in-store in the space of a couple of hours – for a handyman trying to complete a weekend project, the service is a dream. Skip-the-Dishes has pretty much eliminated the need to drive to a restaurant for take-out food. The online app has not only made dinner delivery a simple click, it is a boost for restaurant owners whose profits are going up, while in parallel it has transformed the delivery industry for drivers.
New “born-in-the-cloud” start-ups and traditional Fortune 500 companies have embraced digital transformation initiatives, leaving many mid-sized companies panicked that they can’t catch up fast enough to compete. But to contend today, an effective business mindset is not about growth, it’s about scale, and scale is not about hiring more people.
“Digital transformation” might sound like the buzz word of the last couple of years but as a practice it has been around for over a decade. Enterprise organizations (like Home Depot) with unlimited resources have embraced hybrid cloud and mobile technologies to drive customer service initiatives. Meanwhile, born-in-the-cloud start-ups (like Skip the Dishes) are able to ramp up quickly with minimal capital investments. These companies are free to innovate with a great idea because they can access robust IT, SaaS and mobile technologies with the swipe of a credit card.
But what about the mid-sized company? Until recently, many have only paid lip service to digital transformation—if they haven’t ignored it all together. This trend is changing, though. In 2017, Deloitte surveyed 500 midmarket business executives. The poll found that 36% of respondents spend over 5% of their revenue on technology, up 8% since 2016. 56% are using data analytics to predict customer behaviour. 77% plan to use blockchain, while 67% have begun experimenting with mixed reality applications.
Clearly, the appetite of mid-sized businesses for digital technologies is increasing.
New technology is changing the rules of the game. Nobody wants to be Blockbuster when Netflix shows up and everyone starts streaming movies from home. Sometimes this means making uncomfortable changes now to secure a profitable future. In 1975, Kodak invented the digital camera. Rather than take a risk, embrace the move to digital cameras and adapt their business to a very different model, they stayed on (what appeared to be) the safe path of traditional film camera technology. This choice left them behind competitors, ultimately being forced to declare Chapter 11.
Digital transformation is about more than just the products you sell. It includes people and process and how to incorporate new innovations rapidly. For example, technologies such as advanced business analytics are enabling companies to gain a deeper understanding of their customers than ever before. Increased customer insight and knowledge can be leveraged to improve customer experiences, allowing for highly customized, personalized marketing initiatives. It’s easy to see how companies that don’t embrace new technologies and ways-to-market will be quickly overcome by competitors who do. The IDC report Is Your Network Ready for Digital Transformation? goes as far as to state “for organizations to remain competitive in this quickly unfolding digital era and beyond, IT must embrace digital transformation and the requisite infrastructure needed to achieve it.”
Why digital transformation is challenging for mid-sized businesses
Despite its importance, many midmarket companies struggle with IT and digital transformation. The reason? Consider the following list of common concerns, characteristic of the IT operations of many mid-sized companies:
- Cost and time associated with training staff to remain current with the rapid evolution of technology changes;
- High cost of recruiting and hiring additional or replacement staff to keep up with growing workloads, new technologies and increased customer demands;
- Increased need for IT staff to provide additional project and ad hoc support outside regular working hours;
- Increased requests for contractors with specialized knowledge to fill in gaps;
- Management-by-crisis – reacting to business emergencies instead of following a carefully considered plan.
Companies operating with several of these concerns simply aren’t able to constructively consider digital transformation; they’re just trying to keep the lights on.
So how do mid-sized organizations overcome these obstacles? One of the simplest and most effective answers is a strong managed services partner. Leveraging the skills of an organization that can automate and scale tasks and issues while you focus on strategy can be a corporate life saver. For mid-sized companies, managed services are the hidden secret to scale the businesses—quickly.
Canadian companies embracing new technology and working with partners know the importance of digital transformation. They also know they can’t do it by themselves.
To learn more about how managed IT service providers are helping Canadian mid-sized companies enable digital transformation and scale their businesses, download your free copy of our eBook, Don’t Go it Alone: Scaling versus Growing Your Mid-Sized Business in Canada using Managed Services.