Digital brandification is reaching main street. In the past, shoppers experienced a vibrant mix of small niche stores next to super-chain and mega brand outlets. But this reality is quickly changing as businesses – large conglomerates and mom-and-pop shops – acquire an online presence.
The same is starting to happen to old forms of organizations and business models. IT is driving the agenda – and the pace is accelerating as customers expect everything now. Even when it comes to internal processes, medium-sized businesses must go digital and they want to attract the best people, the best customers, and the best partners.
But first, IT and non-IT business functions must align their priorities. According to Oxford Economics research, senior business leaders ranked efforts that improve the customer experience as a top strategic priority over the next three years. However, IT leaders ranked growth as their top strategy priority, as outlined in the Oxford Economics report, “The Agility Engine.”
Moving beyond survival
Businesses should always consider new technologies to, for example, hire the right people, simplify the supply chain, empower their workforce, and evolve to meet the need of ever-changing market dynamics. However, when outcomes do not help capture and increase customer trust and loyalty, the overall value of IT efforts diminish – as well as the resilience to navigate disruption and prepare for better times.
Unfortunately, traditionally siloed IT management practices are not resilient enough to navigate disruption and adapt to change with the speed, accuracy, and confidence needed to stay competitive. Instead, according to Oxford Economics, IT should be well-integrated into other business areas. This step allows companies to improve their processes and foster innovation company-wide, while building a platform for long-term digital transformation and resilience.
Take, for example, Grupo Polak. Committed to adding value to customers’ businesses, the producer of chemical and agrichemical products implemented an integrated, cloud-based combination of analytics; and travel, expense, and invoice management solutions; and a customer experience platform. This IT initiative empowers the 600-employee company with one source of centralized customer information to meet customer requirements better.
This implementation enabled Grupo Polak to simplify business processes and eliminate manual tasks. The company automated its order validation and inventory management processes, which reduced response to customer needs from four hours to a few seconds during the sales cycle. Furthermore, the executive team is making data-driven decisions more confidently with access to real-time data analytics dashboards.
Grupo Polak’s is an excellent representation of what a medium-sized company can accomplish when IT pulls together various functional areas – the boardroom, sales, finance, and supply chain – to achieve one goal. The company understood that customer trust and loyalty could not be gain unless its employees, across all levels, have the immediate business-wide visibility and insight they need to work faster, more productively, and with greater confidence.
Building strength with IT-driven resilience
When dealing with the complexities of today’s increasingly digital and fast-paced economy, companies must go beyond surviving and start recovering. Any business area can pick from a wide variety of technology to reduce costs and streamline processes.
But when IT is integrated into all functions, each digital investment – no matter how large or small – becomes an opportunity to strengthen a company’s overall resilience – driving more value to customers in any economic condition.
Put your small and medium-sized organization on the right path to recovery with three IT priorities identified in Oxford Economics report, “The Agility Engine.”
This article first appeared on SAP Brandvoice, Forbes.