By Analytix Editorial Team
Pick any top-performing company in your industry and they’re likely highly effective at managing change and modernizing operations. If your small business is also modernizing operations, you’ve probably come across industry buzzwords like Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence, and Business Agility. These buzzwords are more than just that–they’re actively describing the different ways to change your operations and bring it into the digital age.
Top Five Reasons to Prepare for Battle Now
This article provides some perspective on the importance of small business adaptability in a fast-paced digital economy. Most small business owners know how to respond to traditional changes in market conditions. Let’s say a competitor opened a new shop down the street. Your team would likely know how best to respond. However, adapting to market changes in the digital age is different in sometimes dire ways. Why? Because that same competitor now has a web presence, rather than just a physical location. They’re also in the process of building a customer-centric online experience that would make even Uber take a step back. How will you respond now?
You see, today’s small businesses are facing more market complexity, uncertainty, and staffing pressures than ever before. They also have limited know-how to predict where and how competitors will challenge their market relevance. Such market conditions could leave your business grossly unprepared to respond to change. To avoid such a fate, start building up your battle-readiness in these five areas as your competition may already have the advantage.
1. The competition’s digital expertise.
There’s a strong possibility that your competition is ahead of you in digital expertise and will gain a considerable market share by the time you can respond. Data strongly suggests, no matter the industry, that your competitors are investing heavily in modernizing operations and already seeing results. In fact, the majority of business decision-makers believe their current “digital transformation” initiative is delivering significant returns on investment. The three biggest focus areas for improvement have been technology, customer service, accounting and finance.
2. The competition’s size.
In the digital age, it’s not the largest or the smartest companies that survive, but those with a deep capacity for change. Why? Because with the acceleration of automation, mobility, and connectivity, change is coming fast. In many cases, being smaller than your business competitor is a competitive advantage. It’s a digital age David and Goliath story. Research data strongly suggests businesses that run small change quicker. As business operations and technology advancements evolve, a small business’ ability to conquer industry giants like Compaq, Toshiba, and Polaroid evolves, as well.
According to McKinsey, brands with 100 employees or less are 3x more likely to report successful departmental improvement plans when compared to organizations with more than 50,000 employees. These smaller brands are also 15% more likely to have both frontline managers and employees visibly engaged in such rollouts.
3. The competition’s culture.
Small businesses require a workforce with a growth-mindset and a resiliency to change. The culture should also encourage a constant updating of skills as today’s work becomes more digital and automated. Yet, small businesses are woefully unprepared to adjust to this growing trend. A recent survey called The Upskilling Crisis: Effectively Enabling and Retraining Employees for the Future indicates 56% of organizations believe that they have a moderate to severe skills gap. While 60% of employees believe that, to some extent, their current skill set will become outdated in the next three to five years. This urgency for upskilling comes at a time when emerging skill sets are scarce, and the talent market is tight. This means your top employees are likely being recruited by growth-focused competitors looking to improve operational efficiency and strengthen their culture.
4. The competition’s sense of urgency.
There’s a lack of urgency for many small businesses to modernize operations. The argument for adopting a ‘wait and see’ perspective or being a ‘fast follower’ are no longer viable strategies. In the digital world, it’s speed, flexibility, and agility that win the day.
You’re likely familiar with another industry buzzword–disruption. Yes, it’s overused today, but it’s still relevant in today’s tech innovation culture. Consider how Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb changed their entire industries’ competitive and operational landscapes. The question remains–will your industry experience such disruption? Without a doubt.
According to a recent IBM report, 90% of business executives say their industry’s competitive landscape will eventually be disrupted. This puts even the top performers in your industry at risk of being toppled.
It doesn’t end there, either. As the report continues, it lays out the facts, saying “many companies are failing to adapt fast enough to avoid the negative or perhaps catastrophic impacts of disruption.” Just ask Kodak, Xerox, or Blockbuster.
5. The competitor’s internal communications.
Good communication helps drive traditional business change efforts, and is just as important in the digital age. In fact, the effectiveness of internal communications is a strong indicator of a company’s digital transformation success. Research data indicates that change management teams that didn’t communicate a clear rationale for business improvement initiatives to their employees were three times more likely to fail during the execution.
According to Mckinsey, businesses that don’t unify their teams with a compelling message that “change is coming” may be unfit to do battle with high-performing competitors in the coming years.
Just remember, regardless of your uncertainty with change management, digital transformation, or even industry buzzwords, one thing is certain–change is coming. In the end, a small business that can’t quickly adapt to market change will gradually adapt to market irrelevance.