As a small business owner, when you generate a GST e-invoice, or connect with customers on social platforms, or use a CRM software to manage leads, you take a step towards your MSME’s digital transformation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused businesses to relook at systems and operations. The shift from in-person to online stores and virtual communications has been a necessary move for survival, and now revival. There has been enormous government support to assist the change, making digital adoption and transition possible.
In this article we look at how digital transformation enables MSME growth, and as a business, how to prepare your business for it.
How digital transformation drives MSME growth?
There are several benefits of digital transformation especially for small businesses. Let us take a closer look at how digital transformation boosts business growth:
1. Takes business online to grow market and audience reach
Digital transformation helps businesses to go online to expand market and audience reach. With an estimated 622 million active internet users in India as of 2020 (Ref: Statista) it is a huge drawback not being online.
While many small businesses were previously resistant or unaware of how to digitalise their business, the pandemic drove almost all of them to adopt an online or a hybrid model to grow sales, acquire customers, and provide support.
As a small business owner there are several low-cost options you can try to take business online:
- Build your own website to talk about your business, products/services, contact details etc.
- Create a company profile on a b2b platform to find new opportunities and network
- Leverage social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram) to buy and sell online
- Enlist as an eCommerce seller to drive sales and revenue
The idea is to move business online and grow.
2. Automates marketing and sales activities
Digital solutions in business also help to automate processes, especially marketing and sales leading to better tracking, conversion and analytics.
For instance, instead of manually tracking and following up with leads, use CRM software such as TCS iON CRM, Kylas, Cronberry etc. It will help to track leads, create a sales pipeline, reduce lead leakage, automate lead-to-agent assignment, provide reports and more.
It will also save time and cost, reduce manual errors, streamline lead management and improve sales conversions.
Automation is an important move towards digital transformation and MSME growth.
3. Automates HR processes including hiring, onboarding, attendance & payroll
The advantages of digital transformation for the MSME sector can also be extended to HR processes.
During the lockdown, most businesses faced multiple HR related challenges including manpower shortage and attendance management. The challenge continues as many professionals work remotely. With the right digital solutions, businesses can reduce the challenge of recruitment, onboarding and time tracking. For instance:
- Interviews can be scheduled via video conferencing tools
- Assignments can be shared via secure links
- Once hired, file management systems can be used for sharing onboarding documents
- Challenges of remote attendance tracking can be resolved using cloud-based attendance management software
- Pay slips can be generated online and accessed by employees through self-login feature
Going digital will help MSMEs look at a wider talent pool, reduce cost, time and manual errors, and keep business efficient.
4. Identifies new business opportunities digitally
Digital transformation makes it possible for businesses to identify and explore new business opportunities.
For instance, a decade back, lack of awareness and access to information prevented many small businesses to apply to government tenders. Today, MSMEs and start-ups can easily list their products/services on the GeM portal and apply for government e-tenders to grow their business.
Similarly, business can get a MSME registration certificate online (Udyam registration) and seek MSME loans and financing options for business expansion.
5. Redefines customer engagement and support
Keeping customer loyal and engaged is not an easy task. Especially for small and medium businesses with limited budgets and resources. Fortunately, digital tools and automation make it possible.
For instance, instead of relying on calls and emails only, businesses can look at social media, live chat, and WhatsApp messaging for immediate connect and resolution.
Similarly, to help customers with queries and problems, ticketing tools can be used. The tool can be automated to assign an agent to resolve the complaint, track status, update the customer, and close the ticket once the issue is resolved.
Survey tools on the other hand, can be used to collect feedback on products, customer experiences or any other.
Customers are usually loyal and happy with brands that offer quick and hassle-free resolution to their queries and/or seek their feedback after using a service/product.
Closing thoughts: Getting started with digital transformation in business
There can be little debate on the importance of digital transformation in business. From using cloud-based software solutions to enabling contactless digital payments, there has been an unprecedented growth in how new technologies have been adopted for business growth in India.
Before embarking on your MSME’s digital transformation, here are a couple of key points to keep in mind:
- It is an ongoing process
- It can be implemented for specific processes and scaled gradually
- It should be driven by the leadership team
- It requires regular training and change in how people work and collaborate
- It will impact all stakeholders including customers
- It is usually not expensive and deliver high ROI in the long run
- It requires planning, analysis and readiness to welcome change