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EDINBURGH — With the world saturated in WiFi connections it is hard to imagine that there is any business left on earth that isn’t digital. But, digital transformation still has some way to go, with huge revenue opportunities in developing digital channels. Companies that got in on the act early, fobbing off criticism about where the revenues would come from, include Google and Facebook. The World Economic Forum has put the digital economy centre-stage with its Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI). Launched in 2015, the DTI research supports collaboration between the public and private sectors focused on ensuring that digitalization unlocks new levels of prosperity for both industry and society. In this article, writer Chloe Marchbank sets out some ideas on how to take even the smallest business forward in order to extract economic value in the digital era. – Jackie Cameron
By Chloe Marchbank*
Many business owners and those charged with driving growth and diversification within an organization have likely considered taking the business digital, but it needs careful thought and implementation. Without a coherent plan it’s a move fraught with pitfalls.
Simply becoming a digital version of what you are now isn’t as simple as it may appear. The attraction of extending the customer base and a business’s presence from one country-specific area to possibly a global one is alluring but requires proper planning and a strategized approach.
Of course many businesses have ‘gone digital’ in terms of using online services, conducting some business remotely, and using digital support methods such as computerised tax accounting and content management systems; but switching to a wholly digital business means maybe changing the business model entirely.
The Netflix and Pinterest ‘Pivot’
Both Netflix and Pinterest have become household names but what some may not realize is how they moved from one type of business model to another and became wholly digitized as a result.
Netflix originally created a ‘film rental by mail’ platform, but then ‘pivoted’ by changing its business model to a streaming video service – and subsequently moved things on further by creating original content.
Pinterest, originally known as Tote, was a mobile shopping app. After noting that many of its users liked making collections of ‘wish list’ items, they focused on this by pivoting to become a social network funded by advertising revenue.
Both examples are excellent illustrations of organizations identifying a need related to their (then) core businesses and adapting accordingly with creative, digital-based business strategies.
How can you go digital?
So can your business go digital in its present state or might you have to adapt or change?
Some small businesses make a good job of a simple transition to digital; for example, some shops or businesses serving a certain area may be able to extend their reach by offering products and services online via a website and maybe shopping portal along with their traditional shop front.
‘Going digital’ has been a boon to some businesses; they’ve been able to boost their revenues significantly by selling to a much wider national or even global market.
Ask yourself why do you want to ‘go digital?’ What will it hopefully achieve? Will you create digital products such as downloadable courses or information eBooks?
Learning more about the digital world is always a good idea; there’s much to become aware of such as the latest compliance rules, new trends, security issues and much more.
Trying to extend your reach is one thing, but an effective web presence in the form of a responsive and mobile friendly website is vital for your business to be found.
This opens up a need to work with skilled web developers and digital marketers to help create a web site that, once found, will influence visitors to take action by being able to ‘convert’ visitors to buyers – or at least take action if, say, the goal is to attract enquiries initially as opposed to selling products off the website.
Handling extra demand
You’ll require top class customer handling whether in person or digitally.
Losing out on sales or leads because your systems aren’t up to the job would be a tragedy after investing in developing an online presence and marketing yourself, so having an efficient Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or online shopping cart developed for your business is another factor to consider.
This obviously means expenditure and consideration of whether this investment will be recouped and ideally overtaken by increased revenues as your business extends its reach.
There may well be growing pains initially, but a digital presence or full blown ‘going digital’ strategy may prove a significant step for your business. It’s time to embrace the opportunities offered by the world around you.
- Chloe Marchbank is an enthusiastic freelance writer, currently working for various businesses across a variety of sectors. As a recent English graduate from Nottingham Trent University, she is passionate about gaining experience and making a name for herself.
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