Digitization of operations, infrastructure and competition has been widespread in the past several years, crossing industry and regional boundaries a bit more rapidly as time has passed and challenging many leaders around the globe. Keeping up with IT trends has never been all that simple for small business owners, and despite the increasingly complex frameworks involved thanks to several next-generation trends, there are options that can streamline these processes and meet the demands of the modern marketplace.
For example, managed service providers have grown in prevalence throughout the past several years, and entrepreneurs have likely been the most common users, given their inherent need for external support and lack of large IT departments. It has become clear that the firms which have the most progressive approaches to IT provisioning and management tend to be the most successful in their industries by way of profit margins and brand loyalty, and the time to get moving on relevant projects is now.
With the right tools in place to manage the entirety of operations in a more seamless fashion, connect employees efficiently and support staff with the most powerful technologies around, the average small business can lower overhead costs and boost productivity in one fell swoop. However, digitization is not necessarily the easiest initiative to adopt, especially for younger companies that have never run the gamut before with these procedures.
If you want a thorough account of how the mass digitization of corporate operations has been moving along, as well as what this process entails and the obstacles standing in the way of project completion, check out this panel discussion hosted by CID Harvard on the matter:
Small business owners should be considering what they will need to accomplish to ensure the most robust digitization of operations possible, and this begins with core technologies such as unified communications and cloud services. Modern performance is dependent upon effective and novel IT and UC capabilities. Once those backend matters are reconciled entrepreneurs can move on to more progressive and wide-reaching digitization programs.
Words to the wise
Gartner recently argued that the companies which have made the most headway with respect to digitization are beginning to lead their respective marketplaces, while more entities are getting on board with these strategies over time. Because consumers and corporate purchasers are becoming far more interested in digital frameworks when looking for companies to do business with, this type of assertion should not be all that surprising to entrepreneurs.
According to the analysts at Gartner, there has been a 10 percent increase in the number of companies with a minimum of $250 million in annual revenues that have cited improvements to bottom lines and profit margins following the digitization of diverse operational processes and functions, rising from 22 percent to 32 percent between 2014 and this year.
"The survey results underlined how digital business leaders are more likely than others to focus on design and the creation of new digital business moments," Gartner Vice President Jorge Lopez explained. "We asked respondents to rank the importance of five success factors, breaking down the results according to whether companies were using digital marketing techniques (a precursor to digital business), were planning digital business or had already implemented digital business. Not surprisingly, the last group accorded more importance to design and moments, which are necessary to execute digital business."
One of the more obvious findings was that more leaders are looking to position their companies as leaders through the deployment of innovative technologies that specifically target core processes for automation and digitization. What's more, those firms that replied to the Gartner study argued that customer loyalty, conversions and engagement were the most likely aspects to improve following the successful completion of digitization projects.
In addition, the analysts argued that those companies which have not yet begun to embrace digital strategies will need to do so soon or run the risk of becoming irrelevant in the coming years.
"The disruptive effects of digital business cannot be underestimated," Lopez asserted. "To date, a limited number of product categories - music, books, photographs and newspapers - have seen their business models upended. Going forward, organizational leaders in other product and service categories will also need to adapt by restructuring the workforce, eliminating obsolete roles, and finding talent that can help design systems and workflows that optimize the use of things integrated with people and business to drive new value for customers."
"The consolidation of IT is critical to proper digitization."
Consolidation is key
One of the more important steps to robust digitization success is the consolidation of IT assets in such a way that modernizes the small business and allows it to move more flexibly and with more agility than would have been possible in the past. International Data Corporation recently found that disk storage system investments increased by 2.1 percent between the second quarter of 2014 and the same period in 2015, rising to $8.8 billion.
The researchers believe that the consolidation and simplification of this component of infrastructure has been a major priority for several reasons, though cost reduction is certainly one of the more notable advantages.
"Companies are increasingly using new project initiatives and infrastructure refresh as an opportunity to deploy new storage technologies that are able to drive cost and complexity out of their existing storage resources," IDC Storage Research Director Eric Sheppard explained. "This is pushing critical investment dollars towards technologies like cloud-based storage, integrated systems, software-defined storage, and flash-optimized storage systems at the expense of traditional external arrays."
Looking forward, IDC predicted that hyperscale datacenters will become more prominent in this market, experiencing 25.8 percent growth between the second quarters of 2014 and this year to a size of $1 billion. At the same time, more traditional storage infrastructure and systems appear to be falling by the wayside as the years pass, further indicating a major change in strategy among the world's businesses.
To ensure a competitive edge is attained and sustained, companies will need to modernize, digitize and consolidate their corporate operations as soon as possible, and a managed service provider can often help streamline this process.