In the last decade we have seen mobile technology innovate in leaps and bounds. For many of us today, our smartphones serve not only as a means of communication, but also our primary camera, personal assistant, fitness tracker, shopper, television set, music player and library on the go. The concept of work life flow is increasingly fluid as we become more connected and that device we rely so heavily on in our personal lives doubles up as a powerful and flexible work tool.
Customers Driving the Shift to Digital
Mobile innovation coupled with rapid rates of digital adoption have fundamentally changed consumer expectations and behaviors - a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to McKinsey, 75% of people who have started using digital platforms for the first time stated that they will continue to use these channels even in a post-COVID world. A study by Bain & Company showed that 30% of consumers in Southeast Asia have increased their online spending since the pandemic with contactless payment platforms seeing significant growth both in users and transaction volumes. The study also found that consumers are expanding their smartphone uses, with 77% of respondents saying that they had tried a new app that they plan to continue using post-pandemic.
How Mobile Technology is Transforming Small Businesses
A study by Forrester recently found that 62% of Singapore small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employed online business solutions during the pandemic to increase efficiencies, build resilience and engage with customers.
During the lockdown measures, many SMEs increased their online presence out of necessity. It enabled them to continue engaging with customers when physical interactions were restricted. Unsurprisingly, online retail surged during the pandemic, with a 28% increase in the number of active e-commerce businesses in June this year compared to June 2019.
From an operational standpoint, small businesses have become more proactive in adopting digital technology. Business owners are rethinking workflows and processes to better manage costs and drive efficiencies. 99% of the companies surveyed in the ASME-Microsoft study 2020, have adopted at least the most basic digital technologies including email and productivity tools which can be accessed via mobile.
5 Benefits of Digitalising for Small Businesses
Allows small businesses to be more discoverable
Today's consumers are digitally savvy and expect businesses to have a digital presence. Nearly 30% prefer to connect with businesses via digital channels, according to Blue Corona.
By cultivating a digital presence, small businesses can gain more visibility and make use of new interactive opportunities to engage with audiences. Digital footprints are also not bound by geography and can help businesses broaden and extend their reach and customer base.
Increased engagement with customers
In today's digitally-driven world, customers expect to be able to connect with brands through online platforms. While the traditional methods of advertising might pose barriers to small businesses due to exorbitant costs, social media offers an inexpensive way to engage with customers.
Using their trusty smartphone, anyone can be a content creator. Empowering customers to share their experiences through user generated content additionally fuels word of mouth marketing and enables brands to interact directly with those customers and convert them into brand advocates.
Healthy cash flow as a result of timely payment
Delays in payments can have a significant impact on business continuity with immediate implications for payroll, solvency and potentially survival. This is especially so for SMEs, which generally operate on much slimmer margins. Across Asia, we have seen that businesses with online invoice payments get paid up to 25 days faster.
Accessibility and increased productivity
With remote work becoming common practice, online tools can empower businesses to manage and streamline their operations, work with professional advisers, engage with customers and access accurate, up-to-date data from anywhere in the world. Online platforms and app marketplaces - can further provide comprehensive business solutions with real-time information and easy to use tools. Geographically distributed teams can collaborate with live data, dashboards, and systems simultaneously on their smartphones.
Optimise IT spend
While enterprise technology is notoriously expensive,the value of technology innovation is undeniable and these days easily accessible via one’s smartphone.
SMEs can now create their own customised solution from an extensive variety of enterprise grade cloud applications available at low monthly subscription fees. Businesses additionally have the flexibility of being able add on features and services as the company expands and digitalises more of its operations.
Whether we are looking at our personal lifestyles or how we manage our businesses and work, the future is digital. The move to the cloud can yield incredible benefits to SMEs in business continuity, resiliency, collaboration and customer growth, and is often as simple as checking out a new app for your smartphone.