Digitisation for SMEs: Is it worth it?

Digitisation for SMEs: Is it worth it?

Australian SMEs are wholeheartedly embracing digitisation. The 2017 MYOB Business Monitor revealed that fewer SMEs now see technology as a pain point.

According to the report, in February 2015 nearly one in five SMEs said the cost of online technologies was a pain point. That figure dropped to just 16 per cent in 2017. The report also revealed that fewer businesses now fear upgrading hardware and software than in 2015, and more are willing to rethink their systems and processes.

However, despite this trend, return on investment should be at the heart your decision to digitise, and making a strong business case for the digitisation of your business should come down to a careful analysis of its benefits, costs and risks.

Benefits of digitisation

Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors are making digitisation more affordable and easier to implement than ever before. Adopting document management software, for example, can not only significantly reduce your paper usage but also automate many core tasks within your business.

This can lead to productivity gains, improve collaboration across your business thanks to more efficient knowledge sharing, and ultimately help you provide better outcomes for your clients.

And as most SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud, digitisation will also cut your IT costs and remove the need for expensive in-house servers.

Costs of digitisation

Subscription-based SaaS models and managed services that look after hardware acquisition, maintenance and upgrades have significantly reduced the cost of digitisation and put it firmly within reach of budget-conscious SMEs.

However, while some staff training and support service may be provided by SaaS vendors as part of your subscription, you will need to also consider the willingness for your organisation to adopt, which means having a plan for change management is essential, the last thing you want is an investment that no one uses because as they say old habits die hard.

You should also consider the costs of additional data storage if your needs are greater than the standard offering from your SaaS vendor, and there may be some extra costs involved if you want to develop custom apps to integrate into your project management platform.

Risks of digitisation

Cybercrime and data security are ongoing concerns for SMEs that are considering taking their core business processes and data storage to the cloud. Data loss can also be a threat to your operations when your key business processes are managed by third-party online providers.

However, following due diligence processes before engaging a SaaS vendor, ensuring they have stringent data backup and protection procedures, and putting formal risk management policies and crisis protocols in place can largely mitigate these risks.

If managed properly, the benefits of business digitisation far outweigh the costs and risks. It all comes down to your willingness to build relationships with best-practice SaaS vendors and third-party technology vendors that you trust to lead you into the digital age.

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