Digital Challenges for Small Business in 2022

Our mission at NordSpark is helping businesses thrive in the digital world. While we don’t build websites or sell software, we focus on digital business models, governance and act as a CIO for our clients helping them make strategic technology decisions to operate or grow their business better. We see a lot of wicked business problems and so here we share what we see as the digital business challenge for small to medium sized businesses in 2022. This is based on the work we’ve done for small to mid-size businesses through the pandemic and just prior.

Trimming the Digital Fat: During the pandemic, SME’s invested in a number of new digital apps and services, from project management apps to video tools like Zoom, Teams or Google Meet, collaboration tools and more. Some of these have cemented their place in workflows and proven their productivity value. Other, not so much. Now is the time to start getting rid of what you don’t need and paring it back.

Information & Knowledge Management: This is the biggest challenge we see for SME’s into 2022 and beyond. Most SME’s are generating more content and data than they ever have before. But information and data is increasingly spread across many sources. Multiple Excel workbooks, dropped in various shared drives, some in SharePoint, others in Cloud based services like OneDrive, Google Drives. Then there’s all the tacit knowledge in employees brains that gets lost if they leave or retire. In order to make good business decisions, you need the right information at the right time. Getting your data and information sorted is critical for risk management.

Digital Governance: New privacy laws are impending in Canada. These laws have teeth and the fines can be more than $25MM and/or based on the previous years gross revenue. Laws aside, at some you’ll suffer a ransomware attack or a data breach. Getting board by-laws in order, the right insurance and disaster recovery are key.

Work From Home Standards: They don’t have to be policies, although that helps, but you should have a plan and make some firm rules around how this will be managed. This may mean thinking about work differently; is it number of hours or jobs getting done?

Bolstering Your Digital Business: Will you add more digital products and services? Do you have purely digital revenue aspects to your business? Is there a proper business model behind them? Are you investing more into your website and digital marketing? Are they aligned to the business strategy?

Digital Marketing: You’re probably planning deeper investment in this part of the business? Doing a little SEO and updating the company blog and a few posts on social media is not digital marketing. Do you have the right MarTech (Marketing Technology) stack? The right skill sets? What needs to be in-house versus contracted?

Employee Attraction and Retention: As employment levels start to bounce back, many potential workers are reconsidering what they want to do for a career and the types of companies they want to work for. Attraction means paying attention to benefits and culture. In the digital world, it also means projecting that company culture via social media. Potential employees will investigate you before they even submit a resume. That means checking out your social media. No presence is as bad as a bad presence. Retention goes to attraction. It’s a challenge today. There are ways to overcome this issue.

These are the main issues we’re seeing. We’ve guided a few companies through some or all of these challenges. Ignoring them won’t make them go away either. They’ll impact businesses in different ways and degrees.

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