SMBs & Digital Transformation: Try Taking the Easy 'In' with HR

There are plenty of cloud-based HR technologies that are affordable, easy to implement, can help an organization grow, and can bring an SMB’s HR into the 21st century.

December 1, 2017

3 Min Read
Businesspeople and office buildings

If you’ve ever struggled with selling the concept of digital transformation to your customers or prospects, you know that business owners often don’t fully understand the value or simply don’t know where to start.

My advice: Start at the core of a company’s infrastructure–start with their HR. Selling the digitization of HR is a perfect way to help SMB customers begin their digital transformation journey.

When you look at the majority of SMBs, they rarely, if ever, think of their HR as a tech investment. Most have disconnected and manual, paper-based HR processes, and are years away from offering employees and managers an automated or mobile experience. Sure, they may not have the budgets or even the bandwidth to tackle an HR tech implementation, but there are plenty of cloud-based HR technologies that are affordable, easy to implement, can help an organization grow, and can bring an SMB’s HR into the 21st century.

recent study by Techaisle showed that managed service providers and classic value-added resellers, focused on SMBs, are facing challenges in succeeding in the cloud as compared to pure cloud service providers. While the study points to the operational differences, a key takeaway is that channel partners are missing a crucial sweet spot in targeting HR cloud solutions in SMBs. 

SMBs face the same challenges that their larger competitors face when it comes to finding talent and keeping it. The problem, as mentioned, can often be money along with the vision to do a complete HR overhaul. Disconnected and manual recruiting and HR processes don’t work, and while SMBs may not think they have budget or bandwidth, there are plenty of cloud-based HR technologies that are affordable, quick to implement and can support the growth aspirations of SMBs.

That’s where trusted advisors like you, with strong thought leadership on the topic, can offer feasible and affordable options for a digital HR path forward.

Here are a few ideas about planning your 2018 strategy when targeting SMBs: 

Simplify the Journey: In your marketing and sales approach, while you understand and embrace terms like “digital transformation,” they can be awkward and intimidating for the average SMB. Let’s face it: If you don’t understand what you are buying, you are not going to outlay a piece of your budget to purchase it. As a trusted advisor, you need to define it for your customer on their terms, and make it more tangible by focusing on the company’s business challenges and aspirations. Or, maybe you position it as something else, something easier to digest. 

Start with One Solution to Solve a Pain Point: Not all SMBs are ready to take on a complete makeover. So, don’t try to sell them a complete human capital management (HCM) suite. Instead, find a good solution within the vendor’s suite that can cover a specific pain point, deliver solid business outcomes, and provide a good user experience. Make sure the solution has the capacity and capability to tightly integrate with the vendor’s other HR solutions. 

Find a Vendor with Credibility in HR: Some cloud-based HR systems allow for speedy and easier management of all processes, from resume uploads to job postings, with additional options for the hiring process. For example, SAP SuccessFactors HCM solutions include tightly integrated talent management solutions, robust workforce analytics and planning, plus a next-generation core HR solution. Available individually or packaged as a complete set, SAP SuccessFactors HCM Software is the most adopted software-as-a-service (SaaS) business software in the world.

As you get ready to close out 2017 and greet 2018, think about how you can communicate the value of digital transformation to SMBs in a way that is easily understood and resonates with them. Think about delivering into a sweet spot for SMBs—HR, a basic and vital necessity all businesses can identify with.

Wishing you and your families a healthy and prosperous New Year in 2018.


Ira Simon (follow me on Twitter – @IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at:

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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