Modern technology gives us many things.

The Small Business Owner’s Guide To Digital Transformation

With the rapid development of digital technologies, it’s safe to say that we’re firmly out of the information age and have heralded in the ‘age of digital’. But what does this mean for small business owners?

Many business owners have been feeling the pressure to invest in digital technologies for years now. In fact, you may have even made a few tech investments to date, which has resulted in the transformation of your company’s daily operational activities. And this phenomenon is precisely what we’re going to be exploring today. 

What is ‘digital transformation’?

In the simplest terms, the phrase ‘digital transformation’ refers to the process of using digital technologies within your organisation in order to streamline (and digitise) those operations. Digital transformation can also refer to making technological improvements to a company’s offerings (i.e. products and services).

All things considered, digital transformation is an investment in technology that benefits both your staff and customers. But as is the case with any business asset, these digital investments need to be protected.

This shift into the digital age has prompted an uptick in business owners seeking out small business insurance in Australia. With the right insurance cover in place, small business owners can safeguard their new technological investments as well as the processes that they facilitate, providing peace of mind that a failure of technology won’t result in their companies coming to a standstill.

This in a nutshell, is one of the major pain points of digital transformation for many seasoned business owners. A technological transformation of their companies can result in older business owners losing their grasp on how their company operates day-to-day. So it pays to engage with some of the more common technologies used within the context of digital transformation. We’ll be sharing some of these innovations with you below.

Harnessing the power of business apps & data

Although we’re leaving the information age, digital information (or data) is actually more valuable than ever before. The value of data has been furthered by the commercialisation of the internet, with more and more consumers shopping online and engaging with digital advertising rather than ads in old media. With terabytes of consumer data available at your fingertips through industry and market reports, the small business owners of today have the unique opportunity to showcase themselves to a global audience, if that’s what they want to do.

But megacorporations know the value of data too, and they typically have the resources required to amend their strategies to align with all the most recent market research. So how can small business owners hope to keep up as a little fish in a global pond?

Thankfully, business management and project management apps include integrated data and analytics features, which allow small business owners to gain unique insights into the performance of their business. With these digital tools at their disposal, small business owners can track everything from their revenue and expenses, to their employee hours and virtually all other operational aspects of their business.

There are also an abundance of business apps out there, so small business owners can feel free to sign up to software trials here and there in order to find the digital solution that works best for their enterprise.

Navigating the rise of AI & automation

The rise of artificial intelligence has been a hot topic issue over the past year in particular, thanks in part to the monumental development of AI technologies like ChatGPT and Midjourney. But in truth, the commercial applications of AI surpass content and image generation ten times over. 

For example, AI and machine learning are being utilised to develop industry-specific systems and technological offerings. With the development of IIoT (that is ‘industrial internet of things’) technologies, machine learning has been adopted as the brain behind optimising distinct industry processes.

The agricultural and healthcare sectors are great examples here, as IIoT solutions provide industry workers with access to an ever-increasing range of data, spanning from soil monitoring and weather modelling to attaining time-sensitive diagnoses or even developing vaccinations and tailored treatment plans based on patient charts and vitals.

So how can small business owners utilise AI and automation to streamline their own enterprises? Well, if you’re using business management software, then there’s a chance that you’re already experiencing the benefits of AI for your own company. Alongside this, businesses that utilise IIoT technologies and their accompanying software platforms are also going to be utilising AI on a daily basis.

And adopting digital technologies as a means of digitising your company processes is a form of automation in its own right. With that, we’ll undoubtedly continue to see evolving business automation tools emerging in the near future.

Accounting for digital security

At this point, you may be thinking that a reliance on technology can bring just as many risks as it does optimisation opportunities. And to be fair, there are very valid concerns that the digital age will also herald in a slew of aggressive cyber threats and all the different types of dangers online. After all, having your company data and performance metrics or even your financial records stored as digital files can easily leave your enterprise vulnerable to hacks and other forms of cyber attacks.

Thankfully, digital security technologies and software are developing at a similar rate to hacker activities. Just as machine learning can be used to engineer a computer virus, it can also be used to effectively reverse engineer that same bug, allowing computer users to maintain an up-to-date antidote for any nasty malware or ransomware that comes their way.

The field of cybersecurity is also evolving at an exponential rate, with the industry generating jobs across the globe. Business owners have the option to hire their own tech-savvy personnel or even a dedicated security specialist if they feel that’s the right strategy for their enterprise. Otherwise, small business owners can easily benefit from investing in cybersecurity software that’s developed and maintained by teams of expert security specialists operating internationally.

There’s also no cap or no minimum investment required to maintain a cybersecurity strategy for a small business. Your cyber budget can be as expansive or minimalistic as you want it to be, because at the end of the day, staying safe online isn’t about how much money you can throw at a problem – it’s about staying smart and proactive. And if you can stay smart and proactive with just one internet security package and in-depth staff training, then that’s all you need.

Final tips for small business owners looking to invest in digital

With that, one of the ultimate tips that we can give you when it comes to investing in the digital transformation of your company is simply that your strategy should be tailored to your business. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to digital transformation, even if the facelessness of the digital world might make it seem that way.

The reality is that business owners have the freedom of choice, simply because there are a great number of different IIoT manufacturers, software developers, and security packages out there. So feel free to find the digital solutions that meld best with your business.

Remember too, that your digital transformation investments should be regarded just as any other business investment would – by the likelihood of your receiving a strong ROI. Feel free to prioritise digital investments that will directly boost your revenue or improve on your company’s products, services, or industry standing. So long as you plan your transformation investments strategically, then you’ll find that you always do have the budget you’ll need to make the next digital shift that feels right for you.