When it comes to Digital Transformation, especially for small to medium size businesses, it can often seem daunting to an entrepreneur or the C-Suite. Our view that this in part due to most articles, books and other content being generated around this topic is that the focus is on larger businesses and governments.  As we work with small to medium businesses, we’ve come to see this often. So let’s dispel some of the common myths we see regarding Digital Transformation.

1. Expensive: Not necessarily. In fact, a good digital transformation should be designed to reduce costs or increase profits. If it doesn’t, then it’s an utter waste of money and was poorly designed at the start. Small businesses can leverage a lot of Cloud-based solutions today, so they can avoid huge infrastructure costs and capex budgets.

2. Entire Business: The hype around a lot of digital transformations is that it must involve the entirety of the business and the whole business has to become something new. It doesn’t. It can be just one or two departments, such as sales and marketing becoming more automated. If the business model is under threat and struggling, it may need a re-think and require a total transformation, but that’s actually quite rare.

3. Long Time: A lot of consulting firms, unfortunately, will suggest a transformation takes a long time to implement, which of course, means more billing hours. This is a myth. Using agile project management, design thinking and smart decision making (like the Barn Raising methodology) it can move surprisingly quickly. Small to medium sized businesses are by nature more agile. Leverage that.

4. Job Loss: A lot of employees will resist a digital transformation because they assume it will mean job losses. Yes, sometimes it does. But we’ve done some where more employees were hired because the transformation resulted in revenue growth. Very rarely does it mean job losses. Often times, employees are able to do more and be more productive as a result of deploying new technologies smartly.

5. Massive Disruption: A key issue we find when talking with senior management is the belief that a transformation means massive disruption to productivity and employees while it’s being implemented. Yes, there will be changes to workflows and efficiency methods, that’s why you’re doing a digital transformation. But it doesn’t have to disrupt the whole business. Done right, with good planning up front, it can actually be a surprisingly pleasant experience.

There’s more assumptions that are made around digital transformations, but these are the main ones. The key is understanding up front what you need to do, the state of your business and if you need to renew, adapt or evolve. It’s largely in the mindset and degree of commitment in senior management.

Giles Crouch is a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and digital anthropologist. He uniquely ties his deep knowledge of technology, marketing, design thinking and digital anthropology and as a polymath he helps clients seeking digital advantage in today’s complex world. Giles' initial years in business were in marketing communications in the technology sector. He also co-founded the Ice Awards for creative in advertising in Atlantic Canada. Giles has been regularly interviewed by international news media on topics such as social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence and their impacts on society. He is a passionate practitioner of design thinking and digital anthropology (netnography). Giles is prolific writer and public speaker, lecturer and keynote. He has also completed over 300 netnographic research projects since 2009. His secondary engagement is as Group Publisher with HUM@NMedia Inc., a Canadian health and wellness focused media company.

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