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From the adoption of the printing press to the invention of the internet, technology has been moving the goalposts for business success for centuries.

For some companies, digital transformation is seen as a costly and unnecessary commitment, and there's no doubt that the process takes time, investment and patience.

However, ultimately, it is the businesses that do adapt and adopt that are reaping the benefits. So, going digital at some level isn't really just an option - it's a necessity. Customers now expect every business to have a website, and a responsive digital presence is fast becoming essential. Huge corporations have been built on a purely digital presence. For example, with the rise of the gig economy, services such as Uber and Airbnb are mounting a direct challenge to traditional business models.

As more digital disrupters enter the marketplace, it is important to have a responsive workforce that can adapt to change and rise to challenges. Businesses which fail to do this may lose:

  • Relevance: Marketing is successful when it is flexible and can reach customers through all forms of media.
  • Competitive advantage: When new companies (or products/services) disrupt an industry, keeping up is essential, and digital capabilities are the best way to stay agile.
  • Access to key analytics: Consumers are far less brand loyal these days, so, businesses need to understand their customers' needs. Consumer data can be used to tailor content, engage on different platforms, and continuously learn what works and what does not.
  • Market share: Businesses that don't evolve and expand find it difficult to retain market share. It is important to monitor competitor activity and identify useful innovations. Digital technologies can be used to expand and scale up in key areas.
  • Skilled staff:The latest generations of employees grew up in a digital world, where technological innovations are expected, rather than novel. It is unlikely that talented individuals will opt to work for companies that don’t embrace digital workflows.
  • Growth opportunities:A lack of digital activity can make growth a challenge, leaving a business stranded, as technology moves on and rivals use innovations to cut costs and respond more quickly to customer needs.
  • Sales opportunities: Social selling involves leveraging social networks to find leads, foster relationships and close deals. It is an effective way for sales and marketing professionals to engage with and influence customers.
  • The learning advantage:Early adopters of technology have a learning advantage over competitors. They can gain better insights via testing and update products and policies faster than those who don't embrace a digital approach.
  • Cost reductions: A huge positive to a digital approach is the relatively low cost. With digital marketing campaigns, using proper analytics tools, it is relatively easy to identify the reach and impact of a social post, advertisement, video or email.

Regardless of the industry businesses should not be afraid to try new technologies, to improve customer engagement and experience.

Pilots and trials of new technologies are an easy way to test how something could work on a small scale, and provide business opportunities that would have otherwise gone unexplored.

John Taylor is an author for accountingcpd. To see his courses, click here. This blog is an extract from his new course, Improving Business Profits

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