A Short Guide to Digital Transformation for Small Businesses

Digital transformation of businesses – small or big, can follow an extensive process, which can take months, if not years to complete. The process of digital transformation can include several kinds of transformation such as business process, model or domain transformation, or even a large-scale organizational transformation. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the growth of digital transformation in businesses indicates spending of $1.3 trillion, which is likely to reach $2.4 trillion in 2024

With such extensive impact and growth of digital transformation in the world of business, they can be lifelines for small businesses, which are a vital part of the economic ecosystem worldwide. Here is a short guide to help you through the process of initiating a successful digital transformation for your small business:

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation as a concept refers to an organization’s ability to leverage advanced and emerging technologies for creating a better user experience for their customers. When implemented effectively, digital transformation can integrate technology with multiple verticals of the business to make the entire process more accurate, better, and faster. In the past decade, the need for businesses to digitize has grown exponentially, making digital transformation even more common nowadays – regardless of the size of the business. Even businesses that are not able to implement a large-scale transformation, now digitally enhance their processes to derive better results. 

Benefits of Digital Transformation for Small Businesses

While digital transformation and the various aspects associated with it can make it seem like it is for large businesses and corporations who can afford to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars for implementing advanced technologies. But a lesser-known fact is that digital transformation can be implemented in all kinds of organizations, regardless of their size, and can impact the way they conduct business. 

There are several benefits that small businesses can get from digital transformation and some of them are as follows:

  1. Automating Processes

One of the primary benefits that can be achieved by the digital transformation for small businesses is process automation. Small businesses can integrate technologies to automate several processes that might be currently operating manually. The automation of these processes can increase the efficiency within small businesses.

  1. Error Tracking and Prevention

When it comes to small businesses, partial or significant technological transformation can also help in tracking errors in real-time. It can also prevent human errors that can often cause major losses in companies and help the company build a mechanism for preventing errors in advance. Moreover, it can prevent errors from taking place at any stage of the business, and ensure that the company can ensure higher accuracy.

  1. Optimization of Resources

The third important benefit that small businesses can get through digitization and digital transformation is better optimization of resources. With better resource optimization, companies can make the best out of their current resources, and plan better for any resources that they want to invest in the future. 

With the above benefits, it is clear that even if small businesses invest in digitizing their processes to a limited extent, they can improve their processes, and increase overall efficiency.

Top Ways to Digitally Transform Small Businesses

With the aforementioned benefits that small businesses can attain through digitization and digital transformation, there are certain ways that you can use to make it work in your favor. Here are some of the primary ones that you can consider:

Make it a Collaborative Process

A lot of companies miss out on crucial aspects of digital transformation by making it solely an IT project. Considering the change that a comprehensive digital transformation or digitization can trigger, it is important to consider other departments as well. Moreover, it is also important to provide necessary data and information to employees to encourage self-learning. To that end, it is also crucial to provide necessary training and adoption materials to the users. 

Integrate the Business Systems

Managing the internal business systems is another important way to be considered for digitally empowering the company. A crucial part of creating seamless business systems is to integrate them with the digital transformation process. Creating an interoperable platform by unifying all the business applications and modules, and integrating advanced technologies within them is a great way to make your business systems more robust. It also eases the challenges that can otherwise arise while transforming business processes.

Seek Consultation and Expertise

One of the main things that you need to be implemented for digital transformation is bringing in the right expertise and set of tools that can help you adapt to the transformative changes easily. Moreover, you can also increase the odds of making the digital transformation more successful by seeking the right expertise, even from a third party. You can also use third-party applications that will facilitate digital adoption among the users of your company. 

For instance, SAP, a popular SaaS company providing a suite of enterprise applications and modules for organizations provides a special application called SAP Enable Now, which is a well-defined digital adoption platform to help their users onboard the application and its various features. However, there are other SAP Enable Now competitors, which can also be used for the purpose, such as Walkme and Whatfix. 

Keep Control on Budget and Time

When you are digitally transforming your business, it is fair to think that you want the very best for it. But even then, it is important to keep an account of the resources that drive the transformation process. One such aspect is managing the budget allotted for the transformation effectively and managing the timelines associated with them. This can ensure that you do not end up wasting your resources and that you can generate higher returns against your investment. 

Wrapping up

With these factors in mind, it is clear that the implementation of digital transformation can be quite influential across the organization. It can have implications for all kinds of users, which is why having robust processes and systems to promote digital adoption should also be considered. Moreover, even small businesses can implement digital transformation and digitization successfully, and reap the many benefits that it offers. 

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3 Key Automations to Accelerate Your SaaS Company’s Growth

3 Key Automations to Accelerate Your SaaS Company’s Growth

Today’s SaaS apps are easy to acquire and use without IT and operations’ assistance. Due to that convenience, departments and teams tend to seek out best-of-breed cloud applications, streamlining foundational and specialized functions through automation.

However, trouble arises when your company ends up with a SaaS sprawl – the overall amount of adopted applications overwhelms your tech stack. Data becomes siloed in disparate SaaS apps, fragmenting the business processes that run your organization. That’s why integration needs to be a key part of your automation strategy.

All high-growth SaaS companies tend to share one thing in common: They automate critical business processes and mend fragmented ones early on to succeed. From our experience providing integrations to thousands of customers, here are the three key business process automations to help your growing company scale faster:

1.   Quote-to-Cash

Managing the Quote-to-Cash process can be complex, since it covers the entire sales cycle, software licensing fulfillment, and revenue recognition, and it’s typically spread across many applications. That’s why this is the single most critical process that should be integrated and automated in any growing company

Through every sales cycle, there’s a need to share information from sales, accounting, customer success, and other teams. Without automation, companies find themselves dependent on manual data entry, quote creation, uploading and downloading data, and other resource-intensive, error-prone tasks.

Fast, accurate processing is crucial to close deals sooner, drive positive customer experiences, improve cash management and visibility, and increase operational efficiency.

2.   Customer 360

As your company matures, your customer success, sales, and product teams need accurate data to gain a more holistic view of your customers. The Customer 360 concept helps you create more complete customer profiles by aggregating and analyzing data from across your organization. With this unified knowledge, you can personalize interactions, proactively reduce churn, and enable upselling opportunities.

The problem is that customer data exists across multiple applications and databases, including your CRM, ERP, reporting and analytics, and customer support. Without automation, your teams would have to spend time manually collecting data – duplicates and discrepancies would be unavoidable.

Integration brings together data trapped in various systems to help you understand how customers use your products, improve engagement, and increase net retention.

3.   Employee Hiring and Onboarding

Finally, part of growing fast is being able to hire and onboard fast. That’s why your HR team is crucial to your success. However, one potential obstacle is repetitive data entry and other low-value duties. A typical HR system features numerous specialized applications that are detached from each other, which can make coordinating and streamlining workflows between them quite challenging.

Integration connects these applications to ensure that employee information is automatically synced when and where you need it. Automating administrative tasks enables your team to focus more on the employee experience and company culture.

By reducing bureaucracy, HR can lead strategic initiatives including change management and organizational effectiveness. – Read more

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When – and why – hybrid SaaS might be a better option

Cloud services, particularly SaaS products like Office 365, G Suite, Slack and Zoom have been invaluable to enterprises trying to maintain functioning, productive operations amidst this year’s sudden shift to remote work and distributed teams.

SaaS has long been popular as a replacement for internally operating broadly-used, commodified IT software like productivity suites and communications platforms.

However, the pandemic, which forced IT operations and support staff to work from home, led more organizations to investigate and adopt SaaS for backend business services like CRM, ERP and content management.

Indeed, Flexera’s annual cloud survey found that one of the fastest-growing enterprise initiatives is migrating on-premises software to SaaS.

The deeper SaaS creeps into an organization’s back end services, the more it renders the availability and performance of critical business processes dependant upon a SaaS product and vendor that the business doesn’t control. When revenue, customer satisfaction and business operations rely upon an external service provider, it forces business executives to fully understand the tradeoffs of SaaS and options for mitigating the risks without sacrificing the benefits. A hybrid SaaS implementation that combines shared and single-tenant infrastructure is often the right option. 

Shared- versus single-tenant SaaS

The SaaS deployment model is typically conflated with implementations using shared infrastructure. The concepts are understandably merged since the vast majority of SaaS products, and all consumer titles, are delivered from infrastructure shared across hundreds or thousands of customers. Nonetheless, the sensitive nature of customer, financial, procurement and HR data held in CRM, ERP, CMS and EHR systems led many software vendors to enter the SaaS market with single-tenant infrastructure to assuage the fears of skeptical business leaders. SAP S/4 HANA Cloud, STE is a prime example of the type that Brian Sommer warned about almost two years ago when he wrote:

Great SaaS apps run in the cloud in multi-tenancy (Old ERP vendors still peddle single-tenant on-premises, hosted and private cloud solutions).

Although Sommer lumps single-tenant SaaS together with on-premises software (“and their countless variants”), the single-tenant deployment model doesn’t necessitate uncontrolled heterogeneity. Indeed, it is often built from a standardized software distribution, run on the same cloud environment as a vendor’s multi-tenant customers, but using cloud resources, i.e. compute instances, storage columns and buckets and virtual networks, that are dedicated to one customer. Such implementations sacrifice some of the operational efficiencies of shared infrastructure for greater control over performance levels, maintenance windows and data placement.

A better SaaS alternative is a hybrid model in which parts of an application, such as the Web UI, mobile interface and administrative console are delivered from shared infrastructure while the backend databases and business logic run on dedicated infrastructure. For example, Generis CARA, a content management SaaS that targets highly regulated industries like life sciences and financial services provides two classes of service that vary the mix between shared and single-tenant resources: 

  • Standard with shared infrastructure for the application logic and UI servers, with a dedicated database for each customer. Updates are automatically applied each quarter.
  • VIP with dedicated services for the application middleware, UI and database. Updates are available each quarter, with customer control over the schedule (including the option of skipping updates)

The advantages of a hybrid approach include:

  • Predictable application performance by eliminating resource contention.
  • Customer control over software updates and maintenance downtime.
  • Customer control over application version and configuration, backup policies and the physical location of data repositories. 
  • Lower lock-in risk by using dedicated databases that are more easily replicated or migrated to other cloud infrastructures. 
  • Faster data restoration in the event of accidental or malicious deletion, again due to not comingling customers on a shared database or storage repository.

Noisy neighbors and other cloud performance concerns

Data security and cost control usually top the list of business concerns when asking executives about cloud usage, however, dig deeper and you’ll find that many IT leaders also worry about performance when using SaaS applications. An ESG survey focusing on applications for distributed workers, i.e. every employee in the COVID era, found that dismal SaaS performance for remote workers is common. – Read more