How to do digital right: SmartCompany snapshot of small business sentiment

As the small business community continues to navigate the uncharted waters of the global pandemic – and as the rules and restrictions keep on evolving – new priorities and trends emerge. It’s the perfect time to talk to small businesses to see how they are coping and discover what they are prioritising for the months ahead.

This is exactly what SmartCompany has done in its annual survey of SMEs in Australia. Together with Docusign, SmartCompany has just released its report Unpacking the state of SMEs in 2021, which reveals the issues that are top of mind for business leaders right now. 

Here, we dive into one of the key issues in the report: doing digital right.

Digital tools matter more than ever

COVID-19 has surely proven the need for businesses to embrace digital tools. Without technologies like Zoom, Slack and Docusign, where would we be today? Sitting around in our loungewear waiting for offices to reopen? Or worse, shutting up shop for good? 

Technology has proven pivotal for many businesses to survive and thrive during the pandemic. And business owners know that new digital tools and processes are crucial to building a better future.

As Docusign’s Bethany Nyberg said in the report, “Technology experts, business leaders and analysts all agree that digital technologies like cloud-based software offer a more resilient, future-proofed model for business. Not only do they help to prepare you for turbulent times such as COVID-19, but also help you tap into opportunities for growth.”

Question is, how are businesses tackling the task of digitalisation?

Delivering ‘anywhere experiences’

According to the report, small businesses are channeling budget into three key areas:

  • Improved remote access and team collaboration (30%)
  • Cloud-based software solutions (29%)
  • IT security (29%)

These priorities reflect the overarching need to deliver ‘anywhere experiences’ to both employees and customers. Collaboration tools and cloud-based solutions give remote teams the capability to work together, from anywhere; while also giving customers the ability to interact with the business remotely, too. 

As Nyberg commented, “COVID caused ‘anywhere experiences’ to truly become the norm. If you could plausibly work from home, you did. If you could shop online, you did. If you need to buy a house or car, you did, remotely.”

To keep up with this demand, businesses had no choice but to digitise. The good news? Over half (53%) of respondents in the SmartCompany survey felt their digital strategy was up to scratch. Yet, on the flip side, this means 47% still have a way to go. 

For those who still have work to do to implement a future-proofed digital strategy, it’s certainly worth the effort. According to the report, going digital improved the customer experience for 60% of survey respondents. What’s more, it helped 59% of respondents to save on operational costs, and 56% save time by automating processes. 

Taking your next steps

Watch out for an upcoming blog with tips on how to build and implement a stellar digital plan that will help your business deliver the ‘anywhere experiences’ that look set to remain a business-as-usual trend into the future.

In the meantime, read the full report on Unpacking the state of SMEs in 2021 now.

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