Why leveraging data can be a game changer for small and medium businesses

A few years ago, if you were a small business looking to grow, you would have been at a disadvantage when it came to technology-enabled transformation, due to high costs and limited options. Today, the story is completely different. With the rise of cloud-based SaaS applications, technologies that were reserved for businesses with big budgets are now available to small and medium businesses (SMBs) at a fraction of the cost. This makes digital technologies far more accessible and scalable for SMBs. In addition, capabilities available through these applications have also increased exponentially.

For example, if you are a retailer looking to increase your customer base, you now have access to tools and resources that generate terabytes data with the click of a button and let you extract relevant insights quickly. This allows the retailer to better understand, profile and target customers to grow their business. There has never been a better time than now, for SMBs to turn their small businesses into full-fledged data-driven companies. This is a game changer.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which small businesses can use digital technologies to their advantage.

Meet changing customer expectations: Customers today are not only looking for quality service, they are looking for personalized experiences from brands. They expect brands to know what items they are interested in, their last interaction with the brand – online or offline, share relevant and targeted offers & promotions along with providing seamless shipping and delivery. In order to keep pace with changing customer expectations, SMBs can leverage data and analytics applications to understand their customers better. For example, an ecommerce merchant looking to acquire new customers can learn more about the types of websites their customers browse based on their demographic and psychographic data and use that information to run targeted ads and promotions.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Enhance operational efficiencies: Integrating digital applications into daily business workflows can streamline and enhance logistical efficiencies. For example, an accountant looking to send invoices to customers can use integrated digital solutions to print, stamp and mail invoices to customers with the click of a button, thereby, saving precious time. Using IoT and Machine Learning applications, customers can also compare carrier costs and choose the best available option within their budget to save cost and maximize efficiency.

Leverage data to grow business: Data is a key for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition and acquire new customers. Small business owners can tap into data to anticipate what their customers are expecting and track important industry trends. For example, data on customer purchase history can help businesses better identify fast and slow moving products and use that information to plan and manage inventory. Web traffic patterns can help businesses identify best times of the day to place advertisements.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation. SMBs need to be clear their objective before they build their digital strategy or adopt a new technology. They also need to understand what technology would work well for their business based on its size, industry and unique requirements.

Whether it’s automating customer feedback or planning budgets and resources, digital technologies are available that will help you grow, retain and enhance your business capabilities, no matter what the size of your business. The time to act is now.

 

(The writer is Senior Vice President, Global SMB Products & Strategy and Chairman India, Pitney Bowes Inc.)  

 


Updated Date: Apr 04, 2018 08:51 AM

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