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Digital Transformation for small businesses: Challenges and opportunities

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Benefits of digital transformation in smaller businesses

Digital transformation for small business is among the most exciting and promising trends in business today. Study after study clearly show that effective adoption of digital technologies, like:

∗ SaaS cloud-based solutions

∗ IoT (the internet of things)

∗ AI (artificial intelligence) and data analytics

∗ Inventory and asset management

∗ Automated maintenance management

…and the like can increase any company’s productivity, effectiveness and revenue, improve decision making, planning and compliance. All while having similar positive effects on more intangible qualities like a company’s reputation in the industry or the public eye, customer satisfaction, employee happiness, and even CSR. Today we will look at the challenges in achieving full digital transformation in SMEs, the role fear and resistence play, and the support intiatives available to small businesses and beyond. 

Implementing modern technologies in SMEs: Fear of change

Yet compared to large enterprises, small businesses are much less likely to adopt digital technologies, services and processes – and this is as true in the UK as it is in other European countries. Too many small or medium-sized businesses are slow in making key changes or moving forward with enormously beneficial digital transformation and make do with existing tech and processes. And the main reason? Fear.

Much of this resistance comes from often wholly unfounded or only partially true concerns like:

∗ Digital transformation is too costly

∗ Company decision makers don’t have the knowledge or understanding

∗ Digital solutions don’t fit the company’s operations

∗ Implementation would be too disruptive

∗ Changes won’t be compatible with legacy hardware (existing computers and technology) or existing processes / workflow

∗ Employees don’t have the proper training

Whilst these can all be valid considerations, in reality with an appropriate approach to digital transformation much can be gained and almost nothing lost. Cloud asset tracking software is a case in point: Many organisations struggle with manual systems like Excel spreadsheets and are amazed when they discover the power of a digital solution, as told by Timly customer Sodastream in relation to optimising and managing IT assets

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UK Digital Strategy & SMEs: Mentorship

However, digitalisation in business is where the wind is blowing. The recent publication of the UK Digital Strategy policies around digital technology, innovation, investment and access in the UK clearly shows HMG’s understanding of, and commitment to, making the United Kingdom a, as the Strategy puts it, ‘Global Science and Tech Superpower.”

While the policies clearly focus more on larger issues, at least a few of the main concerns small businesses have about digital implementation – specifically, knowledge and cost – are at least somewhat addressed.

A prominent fear for many small or medium sized enterprises is that the management and decision makers don’t know or understand Industry 4.0, new innovations and movements, or even technology in general well enough to make the right choices or form meaningful and realisable strategies.

The UK Digital Strategy policy makes available an interesting mentorship programme, Digital Boost which lets business owners, executives, managers and decision makers in SMEs meet with established thought leaders and successful businesspeople in tech, to learn more about what digital transformation can do for your business.

UK Digital Strategy & SMEs: Training

Further concerns centre around employees’ readiness for change – specifically their lack of proper training in advanced technologies, digital processes and procedures, and other new methods and approaches.

To this end, the UK government, in conjunction with the Small Business Charter, has made available a training program for SMEs: Help to Grow: Management. This twelve week course does not actually train employees in the use of new tech and modalities, but rather teaches management best practices for training, implementation and leadership in digital transformation, preparing them to in turn prepare their staff for changes and new approaches.

This program is funded up to 90 percent by the UK government, and also includes a mentorship component.

UK Digital Strategy & SMEs: Funding

The main concern so many business owners and managers have about digital transformation is the cost of new tech, new services, implementation, transition and training.

But while this is a major point of resistance in so many businesses, and even though private and governmental studies prove again and again just how beneficial digital transformation can be, the UK government is not alone in providing very little, or in most actual cases no, funding to support SMEs in their own modernisation efforts.

That said, the UK Digital Strategy policies do provide some small funding opportunities for small and medium sized companies and organisations in purchasing CRM (customer relationship management) and digital accounting software, through the Help to Grow: Management Course, which can cover up to 50 percent of the costs, to a maximum amount of £5,000.

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Effective approaches to transformation for smaller organisations

But there may be another way to realise comprehensive, meaningful and beneficial digital transformation, which addresses all of a company’s concerns by being surprisingly affordable, quick and pain-free in implementation, easy and intuitive in actual use and applicable to essentially any type or size of business or organisation.

What we mean specifically is a SaaS approach to digital modernisation, where a company utilises a service provider operating a web-based platform to digitise inventory and assets, information and processes, maintenance, operations, personnel management and more.

As one example (and, in our experience, clearly one of the most meaningful and comprehensive ones) a small business will come to a service provider like Timly and have us provide cloud-based services for recording and accounting for every single physical and digital asset in their company, allowing executives, managers and staff to see, understand and best utilise all of their assets, contextualise and interrelate the information and make more effective and meaningful decisions and strategies.

It is amazing how much a basic but complete digital transformation like asset management can modernise your company, save money and increase revenues, make work easier and less stressful for your staff, and improve customer experience, but the benefits are quite obvious both in day to day operations and long-term company performance.

Industry 4.0: Not just for large companies

But while Timly, or other cloud-based solutions, may provide a true and comprehensive digital transformation, we still might wonder about the more ‘advanced’ aspects of Industry 4.0 – especially artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

For example, IoT real-time sensors, AI and Big Data can provide maintenance management analytics which will greatly extend the life of machinery and reduce operational, upkeep and replacement costs, and similar sensors use GPS technology to track a company’s vehicles or mobile equipment, also increasing life and optimising maintenance, as well as improving security, increasing productivity, ensuring worker safety and even improving internal or statutory compliance.

While these things may not apply to your company today, the best cloud-based SaaS solutions will allow you to add more advanced digital transformation tech and functionality – or at least explore it – in the future.

SaaS: Software as part of the digital transformation toolkit

Timly’s 360° user-centric asset management software delivers a complete and immediate digital solution, providing all of the benefits of the latest technologies and agile management best practices and moving you clearly and confidently from yesterday’s tech to a position of true digital leadership.

By recording every aspect of all of your company’s digital and physical assets, Timly’s inventory tracking system allows you to better understand and use those assets, make stronger decisions and form more meaningful strategies, improve processes and workflows, increase employee effectiveness and decrease stress and wasted labour, and in countless ways decrease costs and increase revenue.

So the true promise of digital transformation is wholly realised, and with a powerful and remarkably affordable cloud-based software solution that anybody and everybody can understand and use.

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Timly: Asset Management Software for Industry 4.0

Timly’s cooperation with other leading SaaS service providers like adnexo and Lansweeper lets you opt into real time maintenance and location sensors, highly advanced IT monitoring processes and more, and our own services already fully utilise centralised storage and powerful data processing capabilities – true Industry 4.0 for your company, today and in the future.


Make Timly’s cloud-based software part of your business’s digital transformation.

Please take a moment to peruse some of our customers’ many successful use cases, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions about how Timly can help you fully realise your own digital transformation.

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Smart Cloud-Based Software

With Timly’s simple software, you have a smart tool in your digital transformation toolkit. A wide range of sophisticated functions also makes it easy to digitise your operations.

Manage All Assets

Whether IT resources, tools, machines, vehicle fleet, furniture or contracts: everything in Timly.

Mobile Available Everywhere

Localise your assets with the integrated barcode scanner for smartphones & tablets.

Clever Assignment

Easily assign assets to people, projects, rooms, locations or external service providers.

Digital File Management

Digitally store important information, files, documents, audit trails & contacts for your assets.

GPS Recording

Save the exact GPS location of your assets with one scan. All GPS data historically verifiable.

Maintenance Management

Documentation of repairs & maintenance at the asset location, as well as deadline management.

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