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Achieving digital excellence is a goal that every business leader should be aiming for if they are serious about remaining competitive in an always-online world. It no longer matters if you are a B2B or B2C enterprise; its people at the heart of both and they are reshaping the landscape with their rising expectations.

As a result of these changes, businesses are starting to question if the strategies that got them where they are will continue to help them move forward or starting to hold them back. By daring to question the sustainability of your current success by carrying on with the old way of doing things, you could prevent your business from becoming the next Toys R Us or Thomas Cook.

Why it’s time to retire legacy thinking and technology

Legacy thinking and the words, “But we have always done it this way,” will create as many challenges as old technology. Whether it’s desperately searching for a document that could be located inside one of the thousands of subfolders on your network drive or losing sales due to slow responses, something clearly has to change.

Bloated on-premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools have traditionally been used to deliver tightly integrated capabilities to manage business processes. Despite having the tools available, many businesses are still guilty of wasting time performing repetitive and mundane tasks.

Small and medium businesses cannot typically afford the cost, time or effort it takes to implement a full ERP. The simple fact is many enterprises don’t need this level of forced business process to grow and become efficient. The time has come to think bigger than the traditional ERP and dare to navigate through uncharted digital waters to overcome challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.

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So, what does the small company really need to optimise their business in the digital world? For most, the list below will represent your core needs.

  • Contacts (Suppliers, Customers, and Employees)
  • Service Tracking and Support
  • Scheduling and Planning
  • Employment and HR
  • Assets Management
  • Contracts Management
  • Documents (Policy, Procedures, etc)
  • Accounting

In the early days, every business had dozens of desktop applications that all came with complex relationships that needed to be managed throughout their lifecycle. Document management, email marketing, invoicing, HR applications are just a handful of examples that require managing complex suites of siloed technology.

Upgrading your technology and adopting a digital mindset

Digital transformation initiatives are dominating conversations across nearly every industry in every corner of the world. The use of data-driven decisions to drive businesses forward is no longer a concept, it has become the standard. Emerging technologies, such as blockchain are being used to secure interactions with customers, artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation (IA) are diving business efficiency to a new level.

Gartner reported that 91% of IT staff time is typically spent on firefighting software maintenance instead of innovation. Inefficient and disjointed processes are preventing employees from delivering value to businesses. But in a digital age, disparate systems have created operational inefficiencies that prevent businesses from unifying its data and providing a single version of the truth.

What if you could leverage technology to generate more revenue and increase your service levels by automating the most important parts of your business? The good news is that you can. The only question that remains is, why are you still working with a legacy mindset in a digital world?

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Unlock data silos and make smarter decisions

Over the years, businesses have also unwittingly created data silos. Back in our analogue days, departments didn’t talk to each other. Finance, IT, marketing, and HR all managed their own data sets. But in a digital age, disparate systems have created operational inefficiencies that are preventing businesses from unifying its data and providing a single version of the truth.

The goal for every business should be to unify disjointed systems to enhance the experience of their customers and focus on value-add business priorities. By daring to look beyond cumbersome traditional ERP systems, businesses are learning to take back control of their business.

By unifying all critical business functions and roles, teams with a shared vision can work together rather than in silos to improve business performance and finally reduce even retire their biggest frustrations.

However, reducing cost, complexity, speeding up the time-to-value, and transforming company culture is just the beginning. With an upgraded digital mindset, you can unlock and encourage a collaborative environment where innovation can thrive.

Instead of investing resources into low-value maintenance tasks, staff can be free to explore how emerging technologies can transform their business. The reality is by carrying on with the old way of doing things, you could quickly lose a competitive edge against rivals that race into a future that is already here.

Can you afford to ignore transformational change?

The digital revolution is enabling businesses of all sizes to unite data from every area of the company. This information creates valuable insights that allow teams to place a more accurate focus on driving business transformation in a language that everyone can understand.

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Consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious of brands capturing their data. Blockchain technology has the potential to bring in some much-needed trust and transparency into the customer experience, which could also be a differentiator for businesses.

Blockchain also has the potential to further reshape customer expectations and demand that every business offers a guarantee to treat them fairly. A wide range of other emerging technologies also promises to increase efficiencies and solve real-world business problems.

Another example is the intersection between AI and automation, which is often referred to as intelligent automation (IA). Advances in machine learning (ML) techniques, increased computational power, and continuously advancing cognitive engines, is already beginning to be applied to business problems.

The internet of things (IoT) is already transforming supply chain management and track almost anything through interconnected sensors. These are just a few examples of significant technological change that is happening right now in your industry are becoming impossible to ignore.

These are just a few reasons why a pre-defined business management portal with integrated services that support business applications can provide exciting opportunities. The key elements of an ERP all remain, but it means that you can start creating your own workflow and processes much quicker than with any other software.

Businesses that will thrive and survive in a digital age will be those that remove the friction points of the past and shorten the time to market for their new solutions. As more businesses continue to leverage alternatives to expensive or cumbersome traditional ERP systems, the reshaping of our expectations will continue to evolve.

Do you think that you provide value by managing multiple vendors and complex suites of siloed technology? Or would you time be better spent unifying your data and exploring the art of the possible? You already know the answer, so what will you change in 2020?

Pat Graham is a commercially astute technology executive, entrepreneur and business leader with deep technical roots maintained over an extensive career building & transforming businesses through the use of technology while working as part of the C level suite as a trusted advisor.

Photos: Pixabay

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