When we think of the Swiss business world, we tend to think mainly of the large multinationals, especially banks. However, almost 98% of all jobs exist thanks to companies with fewer than 250 employees, the so-called SMEs. And companies with fewer than nine people are the most numerous.
This particular entrepreneurial world, as disparate in financial means as in personnel, has difficulty, according to many studies, in negotiating its digital transformation.
New technologies and the Internet have become part of Swiss society, but it is not easy to integrate digitalisation “on the fly”. The digital revolution can be experienced negatively by forced decision-makers or by employees hostile to innovations.
However, these profound changes in the way we work have undeniably had some good sides. Big data analysis, artificial intelligence and integrated management software have also become more widespread. They are no longer reserved for large companies with a lot of money.
Just one example: small businesses can open an online shop with a few clicks. The data from this virtual sales area will be fed into customer experience analysis (CRM) software. The entrepreneur will have at his disposal another vision of the market, of the customer journey in real time, of the opportunities for new services or goods.
Digitalisation is on the move and the same is true for small businesses with 1-9 employees as for those with 250. It is hard to imagine a craft company without a website, a building contractor making these estimates by hand.
Yet, digitalisation goes much further, whether in internal communication, customer journey analysis or web marketing.
Here are some keys to what new technologies can do for Swiss SMEs.
Performance at your fingertips
All companies have had to integrate new technologies little by little: e-mail, website, office automation, digital tools.
Often there was no initial digital transformation strategy. And some tools or processes may unknowingly hinder the smooth running of the company: duplications, anomalies, overly complicated or faulty software.
A global approach to all internal processes and exchanges with the outside world – customers, suppliers, marketing, etc. – is a guarantee for optimising work and providing comfort to all employees. Such a strategy also boosts sales channels by shortening them through more precise marketing targeting of customers.
There are now a number of software solutions for small businesses, including direct online use. It is true that until recently, such software was only available to large companies. “Big” management software integrating accounting, CMS, clouds, marketing tools and data analysis implied a high investment both financially and in terms of staff training.
From now on, it is much easier for an SME to appropriate these high-performance tools and to customise them according to its needs and particularities.
A local watchmaking company can have access to Big Data analysis and thus a very fine steering of the production, but also of the implementation of future strategies.
Integrating digitalisation, especially in marketing, makes it possible to follow new trends as closely as possible, to offer new products that correspond to customers’ desires, and to always be one step ahead of the competition.
Strengthening the company’s culture
It is not easy, of course, to put in place a real global digitalization strategy.
The novelty of advanced technologies can frighten some employees. It is therefore essential to involve employees from the very beginning of the discussions on this digital transformation.
Digitalisation should optimise and lighten the daily workload in all areas of the company.
A thorough internal audit will reveal the obstacles, anomalies and duplications of which a company director is not always aware.
Involving all employees in downstream work strengthens internal cohesion. Similarly, there may be people in the company who are more comfortable with new technologies. These “geeks” can be good relays internally and even, why not, find innovative solutions and take part in the training of colleagues.
Finally, the current tools give rise to a less pyramidal management and reduce the boundaries between departments. If the marketing department can analyse customer needs in real time and alert production, a real team effort is put in place.
Successful digitalisation means establishing a new internal management and strengthening the company’s culture.
Overcoming the challenges of digitalisation
The main concern for SMEs wanting to join the digital revolution is where to start.
Each manager may have his or her own vision of digitalisation, specific goals, which will of course not be the same for an SME with an international market as for a small local company.
Moreover, the world of new technologies is changing rapidly. It is constantly innovating, so it is difficult to get an idea of the tools that can bring a plus to logistics, office automation, human resources management, etc.
As mentioned above, the famous cross-functional software such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) have become more common. Most of the time, they can be used in mobile mode thanks to their presence on a cloud or on the Internet. The only difficulty is to choose one that you can afford, both financially and technically. With the plethora of software available, it is easy to waste hours searching for the right one.
And even if the desire or need to open an e-shop is there, the management and implementation of dematerialised sales channels may seem difficult.
As with anything new in a company, a real strategy must be drawn up with a needs analysis, specifications, a budget and a schedule.
For this, the commissioning of an internal audit is a must. Not only to have support in the decision and choice of digital solutions, but above all to have a fresh look at internal processes.
This is what our company offers, and you can be sure that you will receive optimal and personalised answers.
We put our in-depth knowledge of the business world and new technologies at your service. Our experience in this field has given us a keen sense of ergonomics and workplace dynamism.
It is no longer enough to have an email, a website, or a dedicated cloud to face what some do not hesitate to call the new industrial revolution: digitalisation.