For most small businesses, when they hear the words digital transformation” they immediately think of this being something only for very large enterprise businesses. As well, they may also, rightly, think these words are corporate speak by large consulting firms. For the most part, digital transformation has become a marketing shill for global management consulting firms. It has become diluted and utterly vague in description. And if a business needs to transform, it likely means it is in serious trouble. It’s why we prefer the word adaptation, since in most cases, a business just needs to adapt, not transform.

When it comes to small businesses, most just need to adapt. And it doesn’t mean expensive or need to take a huge amount of time either. Small business has another key advantage too; agility. Small to medium sized businesses can move faster, often have less technology debt and can manage change better.

Another myth we often see in small businesses is the idea that they’ll need to make a change to their entire business model or way they operate. This is rarely the case. Adapting to being more digital may only mean implementing more marketing or sales automation tools, better information management or more digitally oriented customer service. Or it may just be moving your productivity software, like Microsoft Office to a Cloud-based solution.

The key word here is “adaptation” and how your business can incorporate information technologies that can reduce costs, increase productivity and profit margins. If a digital adaptation does not achieve one or more of these objectives, then it is not a good investment. An objective, neutral consultant should be able to help make the business case and find the right approach. If they’re coming at you trying to fit in a new software solution they say is best, be cautious. Their end-game is selling you a software solution, not a business solution.

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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