Channel Partners Ideally Positioned to Help SMEs with Digital Transformation
Accounting for nearly half of the private workforce, the small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME) community is the launch pad for the world’s most transformative ideas. Airbnb, Uber and Amazon all belonged to the SME team at one point, and each year the SME space grows larger as technology gives rise to niche markets, unexplored opportunities and new audiences.
If you take a look at the modern SME, the environment they operate in is completely different from the one their 20th century counterparts dealt with. For starters, the amount of data that these companies have at their disposal is mind-blowing and will only continue to increase as technology becomes more readily available and scalable thanks to advancements in IoT.
So, what does this access to unprecedented amounts of data mean for the SME market? Here’re some insights.
Data Analytics: The X Factor for the Initiated
For today’s SMEs, data analytics is a competitive differentiator for the initiated and a first-class ticket to obsolescence for those that fail to take advantage. Those that are well-equipped to implement it into their operations see tremendous growth through greater customer insights, actionable information about their competitive standing and an in-depth view of new products and services they could be testing.
The surge in data driven by near-universal connectivity essentially means that modern businesses operate within a 24/7, always-on economy where customer acquisition starts long before they interact with a brand. For small business owners, the ability to understand a customer’s specific needs and challenges – often before they have vocalized them – is an essential element of success.
SMEs Are Calling for Channel Partners for Help
A recent Forrester study found that the drive among global SMEs to adopt analytics is there. In fact, 79 percent of companies surveyed want to extract more value from their data, and 80 percent are seeking a more advanced approach to performing analytics. However, there are a few roadblocks stopping them from doing so.
Many businesses in the SME market recognize the need to embrace digital transformation and disrupt themselves before they’re disrupted by the competition (a common thread among the world’s leading brand innovators). So what’s the No. 1 issue preventing them from tackling these IT projects? It’s small internal IT teams and siloed operations.
For channel partners, these findings point to a clear business opportunity to establish themselves as harbingers of digital transformation for SMEs in several respects. Here are three things you can do to take advantage of the opportunity at hand:
1. Educate and Inform
How can SMEs be expected to upgrade their IT systems if they’re uninformed when it comes to the complexities of emerging technologies? Whether it’s scheduling consultations or proactively reaching out to SMEs at industry conferences, channel partners must take the initiative to discuss the power of analytics under the lens of SME operations. The appetite for disruption is there!
As SMEs become more digitally savvy, they’re also digitally present; as such, partners need to start thinking strategically about how they’re reaching the SME marketplace through marketing. Personalized, industry-relevant email templates, targeted posts on social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, and compelling, easy-to-navigate websites will help to grab the attention of the modern SME, and clearly outline why your business is relevant to their digital-transformation goals. Once the relationship is bridged, these streamlined communication channels will ease information exchange, and allow partners to keep their SME customers in the know about the technology most relevant to their business.
2. Help the Self-Sufficient Be Self-Sufficient
Self-sufficiency is a defining quality of any SME. As any small business owner knows, your bottom line is your guiding light and every expense must be analyzed with a careful eye. As a result, some business owners might feel that solutions related to data analytics are too complex for their IT division to understand and implement in an effort to make to most of company data. With small teams in place, the best option for SME owners is to make targeted investments in training. Channel partners should take notice.
SMEs often have plenty of skilled employees with the potential to become savvy in complex data science — it’s often just a matter of equipping them with the proper tools and instruction on how to get the most out of the data available to them. However, this training process must be done under the umbrella of a central data strategy. This is where channel partners can help empower businesses not only to put better tools in the hands of their workers for self-service analytics, but help them understand how these projects tie back to broader business objectives.
In serving the role of the educator and partner, channel companies need to ensure they have the tools they need to set themselves up for success in today’s increasingly tech-oriented society. This means staying plugged into the latest analyst information on these emerging technologies, and finding the right programs, brands and vendors to empower business goals before even approaching an SME. By taking advantage of some of the partner programs offered by top vendors and brands, channel companies can gain access to the tools they need to solve the problems SMEs are facing.
3. Engage with an Engaging Partner Program
By engaging with partner programs that truly facilitate partnerships, and not just stale business interactions, channel companies gain access to dedicated solution experts, online training programs, best practices and more to help them prepare to have conversations around data analytics. This is especially important given the fierce recruitment landscape for data scientists and engineers — as a partner seeks to build these experts into their immediate workforce, the right partner program will serve as an extension of the team in these areas, and help to best serve the customer’s needs.
By establishing the right network and providing the right resources, you can work alongside your SME to help them not just collect data — but act on it. As data-analytics capabilities and technologies continue to grow, this will go a long way in establishing your brand as a trusted partner for future projects.
Mario Farag is the director of analytics, marketing routes to market, at SAP.