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What does it mean to be digitalised? In today’s highly competitive market, one thing is for certain: a CRM system and a couple of social media posts won’t cut it. Just because your business processes are digitised doesn’t mean you will drive growth or achieve a lean business model. Digital transformation is as much about strategy as it is about the technology that serves the strategy. It’s more than just an IT spring-clean; driving ROI through digital transformation requires change at all levels of your business.

We’ve prepared the following questions to help you assess your digital strategy.

Do you have a clear plan?

What is the current state of the company, and what can be changed for the better? Consider different combinations of information, processes, channels and in-house skills that can bring about better performance and operations. SMEs must perform a balancing act between adopting new technologies and ensuring productive disruption. An inherent advantage SMEs have over their larger competitors is their innate ability to be agile. Embracing cultural change is easier. Adjusting to obstacles or challenges is swifter. In addition, SMEs rarely have cumbersome legacy systems that need time to be either adapted or replaced. All of these advantages enable smaller companies to build a competitive strategy that gives them an edge in their respective industries.

Tips for SMEs to build a clear plan of action:

  • Digital transformation is scalable. SMEs can road test numerous initiatives and invest more in approaches that provide better ROI.
  • Align digital strategy with overall business goals. Technology should serve your business, not the other way around.
  • Don’t be tempted to blindly follow the typical digital strategy for your industry. Digital transformation provides companies with opportunities to develop their own niche offering and distinguish themselves from competitors.
  • Your digital strategy should be comprehensive yet agile. Adapt to changes and unforeseen successes or challenges.

Do you have a clear data strategy?

Few managers would dispute the value of data. Yet even fewer managers are satisfied with their current data strategy.

Technology turns data into information. With robust data strategies, SMEs can gather actionable insights into how their consumers discover their brands, browse their websites, purchase their products, and respond to customer service. Market research does not have to be costly. While some companies commission large, industry-wide insights to help inform their decision-making, these studies may fail to notice niche trends or fast-arising opportunities that SMEs can leverage to increase their market share. By focusing on the data that is directly relevant to their business and consumers, SMEs can still punch above their weight when it comes to offering their customers products or service solutions that meet their needs.

Have you set up processes for integrating data into decision-making?

SMEs should leverage data insights to fuel their growth strategies. Is data feeding your management decisions? Marketing campaigns and sales opportunities are not the only areas that can benefit from data-rich strategies. Good analytics can help companies identify opportunities for increasing market share, streamlining business workflows and much more, however the right processes enabling teams to act on data insights must be enforced.

Have you put customers at the centre of your strategy?

Positive customer experiences build relationships. These relationships fuel growth. Technology is a critical enabler for putting customers at the core of your business. It provides the tools to collect and manage data, segment audiences, provide excellent customer service, innovate and provide the goods and services customers want, and deliver a personalised customer experience at every touchpoint of the customer lifecycle.

Technology can transform a good experience into an excellent experience. In today’s crowded marketplace, brands no longer need to compete on price or product differentiation. By offering consistent, customised interactions across different channels, brands can foster loyalty by building relationships with each consumer.

First impressions matter. To lower customer acquisition costs, increase conversion rates by using technology to execute your brand experience. Leverage the power of a CRM system by connecting your website to your database to trigger event-based marketing. For example, build marketing journeys that capture your audiences’ attention across mobile and email channels. Segment your customers to deliver personalised marketing messages that are relevant and add value to your customer journey.

How do you know what content should be used at different stages of the customer lifecycle? Digital tools can help you identify the factors that influence buyers at each stage of their path to purchase: from brand discovery to repeat transactions. SMEs can implement smart inbound marketing practices to get heard above the noise.

Does your company culture embrace digital change?

Digital transformation requires both a top-down and bottom-up approach. Management buy-in is essential for technology to permeate all areas of a business. Likewise, employee involvement is indispensable for technology to become the engine of the business: driving change, implementing effective processes, becoming lean and putting customers first.

Business leaders should empower employees at all levels of the organisation so that employees feel accountable for the success of new initiatives. SMEs can take advantage of smaller team sizes to entrust in them the roll-out of digital transformation strategies for each area of business. Individual employees should be encouraged to innovate and share their ideas. By operating with transparency, teams should be able to participate in the review of how successful certain approaches have been and suggest areas for improvement or further investment to scale.

Are you an SME looking to drive growth and increase revenue? Digital transformation can enable you to become more competitive in your market. For more information, or to find out how IMS can help you make the most out of your digital systems, send us an email at


About the Author


Manuela leads the Marketing division at IMS, advising clients on branding and market positioning in both Europe and Asia.

Prior to joining IMS, Manuela worked in financial regulation and compliance. Past experiences include representing France in roundtable discussions in Brussels for the European Venture Capital Fund (EuVECA) Regulation.

She obtained her LL.B (Hons) at UCL before graduating from Sciences-Po, Paris, with a Master’s in Financial Regulation.

Connect with Manuela Burki on LinkedIn

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