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What would you say are the biggest challenges with smaller to medium size businesses (SMBs) going digital?
Karl Walter Keirstead Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Choose an appropriate strategy development methodology and choose a flexible and scalable b2b, b2c, b2d, . . . platform.

Think "predictive analytics" to future-proof your decisions.
References
  1. https://kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Comment
David Chassels Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
SMBs are much smarter than larger brothers and unlikely to be conned into a big spend driven by big vendors, their SI supply chain and conflicted analysts. They will want to know just how the BPM supporting technology works to deliver digital and try out with small experimental project and quickly abandon if failure emerges! In SMBs internal IT (if any) is not likely to be in great position to resist. Therein lies the challenge finding those independent communicators who are able dig deep and convey the required comfort. This will not be welcome by the "big boys"suppliers as large Bs will quickly realise SMBs are likely to gain a significant competitive advantage. So a new low cost door opens where business drives operational digital adaptive software needs.
Comment
Juan J Moreno Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
In my opinion, the 3 major challenges that small and medium companies (SMB's or SME's), face when going digital are:


  • Lack of management time
  • Software licenses costs
  • Consulting services costs


The first is not obvious, because everyone knows the importance of going digital... Well, recognizing its importance doesn't mean that you will have the time to think and define a digital strategy. I mean, in the daily routine of a SMB's CEO or COO or CTO, is there time to think in going digital? Well, usually not. And this is the main challenge.

The second has been strongly mitigated by SaaS Digital Platforms. Not only cloud BPM platforms (like Flokzu; disclaimer: where I work ;) ), but all kind of digital platforms that you can afford with a few bucks. Data Analysis, Communications, Marketing, but even HR, Sales Management, etc, etc.

The third goes hand by hand with the second. Usually cloud platforms are easier to use and administer, what reduce consultancy costs. Besides the obvious money saving, it also reduces time to deploy and have your new digital solutions running, what allows to see and evaluate the results, enforcing the digital strategy.

Best for all !
References
  1. http://www.flokzu.com
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite
Comment
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
It is the lack of a data-driven culture.

Most of my customers (SMBs) start their digital transformation with an abysmal quality of their own data, especially their master data. Much effort is spent in fixing their data model, and doing this together with processes enhances the digital transformation experience. I cannot possibly overemphasize this.
Managing Founder, profluo.com
Comment
Absolutely amazing response!
  1. John Morris
  2. 4 days ago
TWEET: Are you #SMB going digital? What's MOST important thing to focus on? Would you say #dataQuality? Or #dataModel? Take responsibility. Good clean data forever means you CAN #transform. Anything else is #magicalThinking - http://bit.ly/2AJHR12 - @PSchooff @BPMdotcom @BNafornita
  1. John Morris
  2. 4 days ago
Actually I need to clarify this, based on the perspectives I read further down the thread.
SMB's in the emerging world are (I believe) very different animals than SMB's in the developed world. I was referring to the first category, where there are companies below 50M turnover, mostly with low single digit net profit margins and operating on the fringes of economic viability.
I recognize that this will not be the same for SMB's in the developed world.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 2 days ago
@Bogdan, excellent insight. Perhaps we can analyze SMB in emerging versus developed world. Developed world markets are "rationalized", so that any given SMB is serving a niche via a business model that has a high probability of persistence. In the emerging world however, markets are not yet "rationalized", i.e. put through a meat-grinder, and a significant percentage of SMBs may be pursuing commodity markets and do not yet occupy a stable niche. Does this explanation work?
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 days ago
Dr Alexander Samarin Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Is going digital about your data? Yes.
Is going digital about what can you do with your data? Yes.
Is going digital about what information can be “harvesting” from your data? Yes.
Is going digital about proviidng right information to the right person at right time? Yes. (Thanks to @David)
Is going digital about better coordination of your work by using available information (thus building your business knowledge)? Yes.
Is going digital about that somebody (hope an architect) has to ask you all these questions in a systemic way? Yes.

Thanks to @Bogdan and @John for inspiration.
AS
Comment
Alexander. I would add to your list the presentation in the UI of the right data to the right person at the right time in a format custom for that task. This delivers the Adaptive capability which also needs to support change as required. To deliver all this puts a focus on the architecture which should supply evidence supporting "Yes" answers?
  1. David Chassels
  2. 4 days ago
David. Thanks. Added.
E Scott Menter Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
Lack of vision. Coincidentally, high on the list of what makes the transformation hard for large organizations as well.
http://www.bplogix.com/images/icon-x-medium.png Scott
Comment
Lack of vision, while being unforgivable at large organizations, it is actually a consistent trait of SMB's, who are in a constant struggle to find their "groove" (due to their lack of scale, they are the most vulnerable economic entities). So their priorities are simple: 1/ survival and 2/ whatever else.
Any digitisation pitch that does not tickle their survival bone in a very clear and direct manner (cash, first) will most likely fall under 2/.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 3 days ago
I do not think it is lack of vision more prioritizing day to day issues running the business and "IT" not high up list! However those ambitious SMBs looking to scale up with funding available will have digital on agenda but puzzle over how and not encouraged by the high failure cost experienced by many. As I have indicated knowledge on how in their language will encourage giving digital a go?
  1. David Chassels
  2. 3 days ago
Eyal Katz Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Lack of ownership!

Unlike their larger brethren, SMBs will not have someone who is dedicated to the job and measured specifically by how successful the digital trans. will be. Not only that but they are increasingly unlikely to even know how to measure a success DT.
References
  1. https://connecteam.com/top-10-change-management-activities/
Comment
SMB's have up to 999 employees and up to $1 Billion in annual revenue and since digitization is an important contributor to competitive advantage, I find it hard to understand why these organizations would not have BA and IT functions.
Dr Alexander Samarin Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Any transformation must be architectured. Any digital transformation for SMBs must be architected very carefully because of 1) the high level of organisational risk (no mistakes) and 2) the incremental nature of execution (only small steps are possible).

So far, only architecture (based on the systems approach) can link methodologies, mission, vision, ownership, data, risks, processes, KPIs, tools, etc. together in a way which is easy to understand and straightforward to execute by all the stakeholders.

Thanks,
AS
Comment
Alexander. Well said time large organisations started to think in this joined up practical way.....?
  1. David Chassels
  2. 3 days ago
David, not systematically yet. For uber-complex systems, e.g. smart cities, yes. But for typical DT projects - no, thus the failure rate is between 70 and 80 %. Unfortunately, we, the customers, are paying for those failures.
@Alexander . . Good points. You can have "methodologies, mission, vision, . . . " but without linking you don't get to efficiency/effectiveness.

Same for UI's - if they are not easy to understand/easy to use, the organization does not get the benefits it may be looking for.
Exactly Karl. Historically different views and models are developed by different people and thus views and models not aligned. To avoid this, it is recommended to generate (some creative work is implied) new models from others existing models.
Would be nice to align, but small chance getting agreement on what is needed in the area of "views".

I have tried for years to get folks to admit that managing workflow with background BPM requires no more than one split screen with a to-do listbox on one side and a calendar on the other, with facilities for users to microschedule tasks, handles MOST workflow/workload needs.

See "Just one look is all it takes"
https://wp.me/pzzpB-uH

Even less chance of alignment in the area of models for strategic planning. RBV Resource-Based View) goes back to the 1950's but never achieved greatness. Russell Ackoff pointed out in "A Concept of Corporate Planning (1970)" that there were three types of planning (satisficing, optimizing, and adaptivizing) but that we did not have the means (at that time) to do adaptivizing planning.

I figure 3D free-form search Kbases solves the adaptivizing planning problem. This seems work very well for connect-the-dots homicide investigations where a team has 100 cases (active, cold) and is looking for patterns across all of these i.e. Mrs Murphy, in the kitchen, with a knife.
Kay Winkler Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
From the BPM lookout of things, I would say it's intensely challenging for SMB's to adopt a formal methodology or at least an organized framework to lastly achieve continued success, process-automation wise. That's likely related to the associated project costs a formalized approach would entail vs. the delayed benefits of relying on a standardized process design method, artifacts and architecture, later down the road.
That's also in-sync with the observations from Paul Harmon's yearly reports "The state of BPM", over at BPTrends.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
Comment
Hard to understand why a formal methodology for allocating scarce resources to promising initiatives that positively impact process effectiveness needs to be future-proof.

Getting to where you can view available resources and view on a level playing field requests for funding across competing initiatives does not have to be expensive.

"Relying on a standard process design method, artifacts, and architecture" certainly is one route, but, as you point out, that has to take place "down the road".

So, I don't see why allocating funds to promising ROIs cannot move forward in the absence of a "standardized process . . . "

Part of the ROI on any standard process initiative can and should include re-engineering of non-standard processes.
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