Do a search for digital maturity and you’ll find a lot of different ideas, philosophies and of course, tons of marketing pitches from the major consulting firms. With 99% of them aimed at enterprise businesses and this, not really insightful for the small to medium sized businesses (SMB’s).
SMB’s don’t have thousands of employees and aren’t bogged down in as many complex systems, they’re inherently more agile and can adopt new best practices much faster. They also face higher competitive pressures and while a SMB can quickly become a disruptor, they can also be disrupted by a competitor or a sudden and unexpected shift by a larger corporation. So digital maturity means something different to an SMB and is also different depending on market sector, product and industry complexity, employee skills and executive management’s views of digital technologies as well. And of course, culture.
What is Digital Maturity for Small to Medium Sized Businesses?
At its most basic, it means how much of your business that can be digital, is digital and how effectively you use digital tools to improve profitability or reduce costs through efficiencies.
Digital means any process, function, workflow or system within your business that can be turned into zero’s and ones. An example on the sales and marketing front might be that you have a website, but you don’t use inbound marketing to attract leads for the sales team, which means you are less digitally mature. Or product orders are largely by phone, fax (yes, there’s still a few of those around), email but there’s little or no tracking of when the orders come in and paper is the default mode or just email, to communicate an order and how it flows to get to the customer (with that process also being more paper-oriented or just relying on email for the digital part.) There are many more examples, but essentially it means looking across the business and seeing where Information Technology (digital) can be applied to improve efficiency or increase profitability.
When it comes to digital maturity, there is no one standard gold star definition. It will mean something different to each company, but there are some commonalities. The image below provides some insight into what these common elements are.
Understanding digital maturity is an important first step to help if you’re planning some form of Digital Transformation or seeking to understand where you can find advantage in a digital world. It can help you put that stake in the ground to measure progress. This often starts with a digital maturity assessment that identifies strengths and weaknesses and opportunities. Then you can proceed with developing a digital transformation strategy in a more focused manner with real business objectives.