Definitely digital? Definitely digital?

When it comes to the new technology, are you online, on-board and on-the-money – or simply hoping for the best? 006

Can you count all the reasons why an SME in today’s world needs to be fully to speed with its digitization strategies? As well as all the factors like replicable data across every screen – and that’s a must if you want to empower decision-making in the field and ensure employee mobility – there are key essentials like digital marketing, social media engagement, e-commerce, digital supply chain management and online recruitment. The fact is, digitization is a key catalyst in helping your company operate efficiently, enhance visibility and achieve business profitability.

The world is going digital – but have you?

If you want to assess your business’ real priorities in this new digital world, think about your answers to the following key questions –

  • Do you have a crystal-clear understanding of what your business needs to do to smooth its digital journey?
  • If digital technology can help your business operate more efficiently, are you putting in place the systems to release that revenue growth?
  • Do you know what the best-in-class solutions would actually involve?
  • Is your understanding of today’s digital world accurate and up to date – especially in terms of your customers’ expectations?

SME Advisor has researched some of the different ways of tackling these questions, and we spoke to Etisalat about how best businesses can up-skill to meet the challenges of the digital climate. Of course, as the region’s leading technology enabler for SMEs, it’s part of Etisalat’s mission to empower businesses with a better understanding and capability across the digital agenda. The company is currently pioneering a new online initiative, called the ‘Digital Index Survey’. It’s designed to provide SMEs in the UAE with an opportunity to have their digital maturity professionally evaluated and ranked – and then understand and help businesses improve this ranking to increase competitive advantage and drive growth.

Invest 15 minutes to change business performance

Etisalat Digital Index Survey will be quick to complete and will actually identify the key areas where you need to improve (if you need to!) – giving you the ability to focus business resources and activate a better rate of return.

It focuses on four key areas – organisation and collaboration, IT and infrastructure, the customer experience, and channels & partners. When you answer some simple (but structured) questions across these key fields, you’ll be ranked against international benchmarks and peer-group companies in the region.

This is a ‘smart’ way of boosting digital performance, and you’ll also find that –

  • Etisalat Digital Index Survey will be rolled out in a very simple format online and will be completely free for all participants
  • You’ll be able to access the survey online via . Register yourself and have your survey completed

Alternatively, we’ll be sending you an activation e-blast to ensure you know when and how to get online and start your diagnostic journey with Etisalat Digital Index Survey!

The proof is in the results… And here are some good ones!

What does it mean in practical terms when a business gets its digitization properly sorted? Here are two case studies of businesses which have unleashed a considerable transformation in profile and performance through digitization…

National Grocery Store

Managing a chain of 10 grocery shops, the company set about a digital road-mapping exercise, designed to transform its internal processes and reach more customers through fresh digital channels. There were no shortage of challenges, though. The business faced erosion of customers through increased competition and new ways of shopping. There was an inefficient procurement process – not to mention an inefficient allocation of space when it came to the IT infrastructure, with different servers located in the different stores. This also meant considerable difficulties in maintaining and updating the IT environment.

Quantum improvements were delivered across four key areas.

  1. Digital commerce

The company set up an online store, through which customers could view and buy their products directly, dramatically increasing revenue. This change didn’t require specific skills to be insourced because it was made with Web-portal managed as a service. Also, no additional overhead resulted from this, since it leveraged the same logistical and procurement processes from the physical stores.

  1. Digital signage

The chain introduced – across the different stores – small and medium-sized video screens promoting key products. Customers were able to view more promotions and available products, thereby increasing impulse shopping and average sales in-store. Importantly, the digital signage generated a new revenue stream from third parties wiling to promote their own brand.

  1. Cloud infrastructure

All IT infrastructure was moved onto Cloud services. This meant that the company was able to concentrate on its core business, working with external suppliers for the management of the IT infrastructure. This reduced the total cost for the infrastructure operations and maintenance and eliminated the need to have a dedicate specialist resource. Moreover, there was no longer any need for the continual maintenance and renewal of the IT infrastructure.

  1. Connected retail

The company rolled out a centralised backend system to unify the procurement process across all the stores. Each store also had access to the central system, improving and simplifying the review of stocks available and the forecasting process – resulting in a much more efficient logistics process and smoother delivery of goods to all stores.

The benefits

  • National Grocery Store increased overall sales by 12 per cent in a single year, due to the e-Commerce site.
  • It also reduced IT spending by 40 per cent yearly through infrastructure virtualization.
  • Direct costs improved by achieving better volume discounts and a more efficient logistics process.

Resort Facility Construction Company

Digital devices enabled a classic streamlining initiative at this leading construction company, as it introduced digital platforms to manage workforce equipment and logistics. This helped overcome challenges such as the ineffective management of workforce tasks and workloads due to a very scattered working environment and a multitude of diffuse operations. Allied to this were difficulties in monitoring and controlling expensive equipment at construction sites, and the cost of an IT team working on non-value-added tasks.

Better digitization then delivered –

  1. Tablet app for workforce

The company rolled out a tablet app for the management workforce to track and update work progress from any place – and at any time. This enabled the real-time update of raw materials needing procurement, and was directly connected to partners’ online solutions. The app was also provided with very high security standards through authentication and encryption.

  1. Equipment tracking

A centralized control of equipment was deployed, leveraging sensors placed on vehicles and expensive assets. A customised and easily-comprehensible dashboard was available to monitor and locate the assets at any given time. The solution also facilitated the maintenance scheduling and faults management functions.

  1. Paperless processes

The company decided to eliminate paper by scanning documents and using forms and applications such as digital signature to insert and share data. This reduced administrative costs and effort drastically, and allowed the company to search, track, manage and share information more easily.

  1. Office software as a service

The company introduced a full suite of on-demand services for e-mail, calendar, file sharing, online conferencing, instant messaging and Office Online. By removing local instances of productivity software, the company ensured it had the most up to date software throughout and reduced the cost of upgrades and fault resolutions.  What’s more the software was made accessible to any device, anywhere.

The benefits

  • The Resort Facility Construction Company signifcantly improved workforce productivity.
  • It reduced equipment loss and the incidence of stolen items and increased the equipment lifecycle – all with an impact of 7 per cent on the bottom line.
  • It reduced operating costs and boosted productivity by eliminating all paper-based processes.
  • IT spending came down by nearly 30 per cent yearly!

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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