How SMBs can lead the innovation race with cloud technology

Australian SMBs have been quick to embrace the democratisation of technology

Small and medium sized businesses’ (SMBs) increasing adoption of cloud-based enterprise technology is transforming the way they compete with larger firms, enter new markets, and drive higher levels of productivity and innovation. Australian SMBs have been quick to embrace the democratisation of technology, with IDC forecasting SMBs will increase expenditure on IT hardware, software and services by more than a $100 billion over the next four years.

Despite the increase in cloud and digital technology adoption, the majority of SMBs continue to face barriers when it comes to executing digital engagement and properly implementing new solutions, while managing budget constraints. For example, while IDC reports that 67% of all Australian organisations are embracing cloud, only 13% believe they have an optimised cloud strategy. Our recent The State of Salesforce Report also identified that 60% of SMBs reported improved productivity as a measurable business outcome attributed to Salesforce, yet one in three SMB employees don’t believe their company is committed to constantly innovating its Salesforce organisation.

While it may seem daunting, there are many opportunities that SMBs have over bigger and more resourced businesses when it comes to implementing and managing new digital technologies.

Optimise customer experience through quality data and automation

Data is unlimited and it’s everywhere. This presents both opportunities and challenges for even today’s best companies. With more SMBs embarking on their digital transformation journey, they can start implementing and customising data quality measures and management from the onset (things like data consolidation, data cleansing, and data automation), to drive exceptional customer experiences and real-time service. Large enterprises are more likely to encounter complexity while converting their existing data–whether structured, unstructured, or disparate–into actionable insights and ensuring data quality.

SMBs who invest in future-proofing their data are less likely to experience substantial lag time in getting the right information, intelligence, and actions to best serve the customer. Instead, they are in a more advantageous position to spearhead innovation with the data they have to create intuitive, automated employee experiences that can power incredible customer moments.

Leverage partners that can innovate faster

Smaller businesses have the ability to change business strategy and functions much faster than larger competitors, yet implementation experience and budget constraints may hinder the process. The consulting landscape today still presents few options for SMBs, resulting in them implementing cloud platforms, like Salesforce, by themselves based on limited technology skills and expertise, or using their budgets to partner with smaller, potentially less experienced technology consultancies that may not deliver quickly or to a quality standard.

Building strategic relationships with experienced, local partners can help SMBs access capabilities that go beyond their product knowledge and support services, and advise them on how to get the most out of their IT investments while staying focused on business goals. Bluewolf recognises this need, especially for SMB clients looking to get running on Salesforce quickly. (Our latest service offering, Bluewolf Go, enables companies of all sizes to get live on Salesforce in just 30 or 60 days.)

Improve employee experience to deliver exceptional customer experience

Large companies are often bogged down with processes and antiquated management systems, making it difficult to cultivate innovation and creativity. Changing employee’s attitudes and behaviours, along with inadequate training, are some of the greatest challenges when implementing new technology; most large enterprises tend to overlook this crucial human component.

Building empathy for your customers provides the critical insights needed to design better solutions that addresses their needs and desires. You need to engage your employees in the same way. SMBs have the advantage of closer proximity to their workforce and can focus on technology, services and solutions that enable their employees to become more customer-centric. By investing and continually promoting solutions that streamline employee workflows, SMBs can re-orientate their business process and engagements that put the customer at the centre.

With the right discipline, partnership and internal enablement, SMBs can better realise their digital technology investments that drive exceptional customer experiences and increase productivity, and will propel their business forward.

Aniqa Tariq is the managing director of Bluewolf Australia and New Zealand.

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