Moving your Business into the Digital Economy


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By CEO at Callaghan Innovation

The digital economy is giving small businesses a huge opportunity to compete with big corporates, enabling them to operate efficiently, at scale, for minimal cost.

By injecting technology into small businesses, it boosts their productivity so owners are able to get out from under the day-to-day operations and start working on the future of their business.

But the digital economy isn’t only impacting small businesses, at the other end of the spectrum, enterprise CIOs, who aren’t implementing agile web based platforms, could be holding their organisations back on multiple fronts.

Why? Many corporate CIOs are worried about losing control of the complicated IT castles they’ve constructed over many years, rather than implementing cloud and SaaS solutions and API interfaces that shift information around seamlessly and foster collaboration.

Those CIOs need to take a leap of faith and put on their supplier hat. The technologies they should embrace and integrate have rapidly shifted to becoming the heart of the organisation’s reputation around customer experience, innovation and culture.  Increasingly, today’s global consumers expect to transact everything online. And tech savvy employees expect tools to enable them to be mobile and productive. Add in the benefits of collaboration and innovation that today’s tech tools bring, and you have a magic combination that enables a culture to be highly motivated and successful. It also drives toward a pace of innovation that we’ve all dreamed of.  

Leveling the playing field though technology is creating a dynamic where some small businesses are finding themselves in a position where they can compete – and win – against their big corporate counterparts. Why? Because they’re matching the personal service of a smaller business with the efficiencies and scale technology brings.

But there is a fair way to go. While small businesses account for about 90% of companies in the Asia Pacific region and around 70% of employment, for many there remains a significant productivity gap between small and big business. In China, Japan and Singapore small business is about 30% less productive compared to big business, in Australia it’s 17% and in India and Korea it’s about 50%.

Much of the time, the productivity gap is structural. It’s driven by limited access to capital and technology at scale, combined with fierce competition for talent.

But with platforms like Xero, small businesses no longer have to be operating at scale to access partnerships with some of the largest companies in the world, including Apple, Google and Microsoft. Together with these global companies, Xero provides new tools to make it easier for small businesses to grow and collaborate.  

Recent Xero research found that adding one technology tool to a small business had at least a $10,000 impact on net profitability. It’s a huge opportunity for small business.

Cloud computing is driving down costs and investment requirements in small business, and combined with automation, it’s enabling owners to regain time to work on future growth plans.

Enterprise typically sits on complex, dated systems which are becoming increasingly difficult to transition to newer cloud-based tech. As gatekeepers, CIOs have the difficult role of making sure their costly systems at the heart of their organisation’s customer experience and employee culture integrate and work together.

But these dated systems can make it difficult for customers to deal with their corporate organisation and it has a lot to do with the complexity of the internal systems in place. That means CIOs need to be in the business of ensuring their companies have systems which empower both customers and employees.

The role of building massive IT castles within their business on the back of multi-million-dollar budgets is long gone. Today it’s about being relevant, using infrastructure as a service, APIs to integrate and knowing the needs of the customer and the employee.

If you’re not shifting into that space and enabling every aspect of your customer experience to take place online, than you’re actually making it hard for customers to do business with you and you’ll find your customers will start working with a small business or a business that does offer an online service, simply because it’s easier.

By implementing tools like Google Office, Microsoft 365, Skype or Dropbox your teams will become more productive, more collaborative and move faster.  

So which camp are you in? Are you about the dated castles that impede customer experience and suffocate culture? Or are you about boosting customer interactions and empowering your employees to be creative and productive? Which CIO are you?


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