In the enterprise, digital transformation is no longer synonymous with striving toward a structural or radical change by replacing and rebuilding systems and processes. Rather, it now resembles any other business function \u2013 with the goal of enabling continuous innovation across departments.\nIf you\u2019re at a small or medium-sized business (SMB), however, the stakes are different. You\u2019re probably already pressed for technology resources and capital. Why then, would you care about turning your operations inside out and changing your fundamental ways of working?\nThe answer is survival.\nWhile SMBs and startups often have the same functional concerns as enterprises \u2013 such as patchy cash flow, unmet revenue targets, customer service complaints, and poor employee productivity \u2013 all of these challenges have a significantly bigger impact on the continuity of a small business than that of a large organization.\nThe good news is that technology and the agile processes that drive its implementation have become great levelers in today\u2019s information age. Many SMBs have tasted success (and grown exponentially) owing to the parallel rise of the sharing economy and affordable SaaS solutions.\nAs a result, SMBs are seeing value in stepping up investments in digital transformation with specific primary and secondary objectives\u00a0\u00e0 la\u00a0the enterprise. A fifth of over 3,600 SMBs surveyed by Techaisle reported that the disruptions caused by the pandemic had amplified their belief in organization-wide digital transformation, leading them to look at it more holistically and strategically.\n Techaisle \nLet\u2019s explore how SMBs can chart their digital transformation journey and make sure technology delivers business value in every operational area and process.\nKnow the types of transformation\nDigital transformation can often be broken down into four categories of change, based on the extent and areas of their impact.\nBusiness process transformation\nBusiness processes are the most basic units of operations that benefit from improved or evolving technologies such as AI and machine learning, AR\/ VR, and hybrid clouds, as well as the analytics, services, and APIs associated with these technologies. Ultimately, these mini-transformations result in specific KPIs such as better product quality, less cost per unit produced, or faster delivery.\nBusiness model transformation\nYou can find dozens of examples today of how technology is enabling startups to turn traditional business models on their heads while delivering more value to consumers. Netflix (video distribution), iTunes (music distribution), Uber (taxis), and Airbnb (hotels) are some that race to the top of the mind.\nUsing the building blocks of processes transformation \u2013 like AI and analytics \u2013 these companies are continuing to accelerate change in the already transformed business models.\nDomain transformation\nThe biggest survival ability of a startup or a small business is its propensity to pivot \u2013 or venture out into a new domain of business. Twitter launched as a podcasting platform, YouTube started out as a video dating site, and Starbucks began life selling coffee beans.\nYou don\u2019t always need to change your core domain; you can add another product or service range to your core offering using technology that you understand or use. For example, Shopify successfully added hosting services to its ecommerce framework and is now a one-stop solution for online retailers.\n\u201cAs you\u2019re thinking about transforming a company, try to realize those cores, those gems that you have that you can pivot off of to create that next chapter,\u201d\u00a0said Pitney Bowes CEO Mark Lautenbach as they developed a new, customer-facing commerce cloud to allow smoother payments.\nNew technology can unlock untapped opportunities and new markets for your business, especially if you have a lean operational structure. Domain transformation perhaps creates more value than any other category of business transformation.\nCultural transformation\nTechnology drives change, but people drive technology. True digital transformation happens when you have agile workflows, decentralized decision-making, and an engaging company culture that promotes learning, testing, risk-tolerance and openness to change.\nMost of all \u2013 and this bears endless repetition \u2013 it needs to spring and flow from the top.\nKeep pushing digital adoption from within\nMost SMBs stop in their tracks when they hear \u201cdigital transformation\u201d because of the perception that it is something complex beyond the grasp of their limited resources.\nThis changes with the basic term \u201cdigital adoption,\u201d which is simply the deployment of multiple technologies for various processes. These could be as simple as using SaaS productivity tools, providing mobile access to business-critical apps, or tracking sales and marketing analytics. Present-day platforms do away with the need for specialized tech skills by providing unified platforms with simple, intuitive UIs to manage any business function under the sun.\nWith the increasing availability and simplicity of automation tools, SMBs are embracing evolving technology wholeheartedly. The IDG Digital Business Survey found that AI, multi-cloud environments, software-defined storage and networking, and IoT figure among the most commonly adopted technologies.\n IDG \nBy increasing the speed and breadth of technology adoption, you can scale up your digital workflows, resulting in increased employee productivity, faster lead conversions, and better insights from customer or product usage data. This in turn helps in accurate and timely decision-making \u2013 the difference between win or lose for SMBs.\nIn terms of the extent of adoption, TEKsystems\u2019 State of Digital 2021 Transformation study found that SMBs are well past the early stages of the journey and are already evaluating vendors or rolling out pilots.\n TEKsystems \nStrong leadership and an internal support system are key to speeding up and scaling your digital transformation, especially if you have multiple or wide-ranging objectives. Digital adoption might require a huge cultural shift, getting buy-in from staff in all departments, overcoming compliance issues, rapid prototyping and shipping of product changes, making the business case for technology implementation, as well as eliminating well-established processes.\nBe transparent in your goals with your workforce \u2013 make sure they know how their roles will change during and after the transformation. Promote leaders who can drive this change from the bottom up. Set clear, strategic targets for product owners and managers, and give them the flexibility and budgets to be agile and think (and act) on their toes.\nUltimately, this is what will increase the chances of the success of your initiative and deliver more value to the customer.\nUnderstand how change affects your customers\nDigital adoption can change companies for the better (by making them more efficient and organized through automation) without transforming them. But of course, business process transformation can occur in bursts and small increments. AI- and ML-enabled applications level the playing field for SMBs and give them far-reaching insights on consumers and the overall market that were previously available only to enterprises with deep pockets.\nDigital transformation is not an isolated activity that you go about with your head down without looking up until it\u2019s done. Change permeates and affects every area and component of a small business, including processes, employees, and customers.\nHowever, customers hold sway over pretty much every market today. They have access to information on any product, solution, and company at their fingertips. Therefore, the smaller the business, the more focused it\u2019d better be on providing a great customer experience (CX).\nNo surprise then that respondents to the TEKsystems survey chose \u201cimproving customer experience and engagement\u201d as the top goal of their digital transformation efforts. These findings are bolstered by research from BCG \u2013 it found that nearly 9 in 10 companies had customer-facing goals as their top business objectives for digital transformation.\n BCG \nWhile examples abound of how the top brands recognized the shift towards digitization in their industry and transformed their business structure accordingly (Dominos for food delivery, for one), small businesses can achieve nearly the same results with simple chatbots.\nThe DIY ones that piggyback on popular IM apps like Facebook Messenger let you proactively engage with visitors on your site, make well-timed offers, nurture leads, speed up service issue resolution, and offer exclusive, personalized content.\n MobileMonkey \nAs lifestyles are increasingly being influenced by smartphones, websites, and other digital channels, SMBs need to leverage the \u201cexperience economy\u201d by making digital customer experience (DCX) the vehicle by which they deliver experiential and economic value to their customers.\nEat that elephant \u2013 one bite at a time\nThe urgency of digital transformation has increased in the wake of the pandemic and its after effects. More so for small businesses that stand a lot to lose or gain from the omnipresent economic impact of COVID-19. That said, small businesses have the advantage of being able to experiment with new technologies, incorporate new methods and models, tweak their strategies, and change course quickly when needed.\nSMBs can realize the benefits of digital transformation by identifying their most pressing problem \u2013 the biggest threat to their survival, if you will \u2013 and dealing with it first. \u201cTake your business and break it down into smaller chunks and start building things. And don\u2019t solve problems that don\u2019t exist yet, that you haven\u2019t yet faced,\u201d advised Pieter Jordaan, CTO of TUI Group, as quoted in a recent article on CIO.\nThat isn\u2019t so hard as it sounds, as explained in the article. With the depth and range of today\u2019s software ecosystem, more often than not, the solution is staring you right in the face.\nIf you work at a small or medium-sized business, you can\u2019t ignore the fact that technology is rapidly changing consumer behavior \u2013 and vice versa \u2013 regardless of the industry you operate in. The digital transformation party is on and the big brands are already dancing to the beat. So get crunked up!