Last year, IDC predicted that at least 50% of global gross domestic product (GDP) will be digitised by 2021. The future is digital and companies that do not move into the digital era will soon find themselves to be irrelevant.
That is a real problem that will especially plague smaller businesses and SMEs in emerging ASEAN markets due to factors such as being in a less than ideal tech adoption environment, connectivity limitations or simply the lack of a digital mindset. Thus, many SMEs are finding, sometimes unbeknownst to them, that they are “digitally stuck”.
However, all is not lost because regardless of where a company is in their digital transformation journey, one thing that’s consistent is the fact that they are all producing, collecting and saving huge amounts of data; bigger in terms of velocity, volume and variety than ever in human history. So for many SMEs, the data is already there. They’re just not fully utilising this valuable business asset that they have and so it just sits there, like an untapped source of potential often likened to crude oil waiting to be extracted and processed.
Another issue is that the data is often dispersed across the different company units or functions, commonly using different systems, databases and applications. It’s difficult to have an overview and control over your data when it is siloed and sits in innumerable sources with different formats and structures.
The fundamental of having a digital mindset starts with understanding data and using it as the fuel that powers insight, action and helps businesses make better decisions, faster.
The average business already has a slew of potentially valuable data at their disposal, such as supplier interaction data, customer data, pricing data, product returns data, payment data and lots more. The data can be made to work for the company’s benefit, for example by applying it to ideas like seasonality – to get a better idea of best pricing settings based on the time of year. By analysing data related to supplier risk and pricing, a company could discover that one supplier that seems to offer lower pricing may actually be more expensive when delivery times and product returns are assessed, as another example.
By effectively pooling and analysing all their data, SMEs can gain a better understanding of their customers and supply chain, cut down unnecessary costs, improve operational efficiency, optimise revenue streams and expand their market faster than they ever thought possible.
In other words, it is about intelligent operations. If they haven’t already, SMEs have to start to invest more resources in leveraging the data they already produce in order to run and grow their business intelligently. Besides having the right mindset and strategy, working with the right technology partner also becomes an important part of the whole journey.
SAP is an example of a company that has the vast experience and portfolio to help SMEs meet their specific challenges in a variety of industries. It offers these small to midsized businesses with a host of solutions that connect every part of their business, from finance to human resources, sales, customer service, supply chain, and more.
By employing cutting edge technology that allows them to unify all verticals and effectively break down data and operational silos, only then can SMEs gain deeper insights into their data and make instant and informed decisions.
Most importantly, the technology has to be agile and flexible, able to scale and expand with the business as it inevitably grows.