In manufacturing and other industries alike, participating in the “digital revolution” has become an absolute necessity. You are probably behind the curve if you’re running a modern business without embracing some digital transformation, and fortunately more and more business owners seem to be realising as much. Even when you welcome this kind of transformation though, there are a lot of specifics to sort through – most notably where to prioritise your efforts and spending.
To that point, we wanted to identify a few key areas where you should and shouldn’t be spending in the process of digitally updating your business.
Where You Should Spend
Supply Chain Analytics
Particularly if you’re running a manufacturing business, it’s imperative to take advantage of some of the wonders of modernised supply chains. And as we’ve previously noted on ‘Key Drivers of Digital Transformation’, these can be key to your company’s survival. Today, investing in digital technology related to this specific aspect of your business can result in significant improvements in efficiency. Through connected sensors on inventory, tracking software in vehicles, and even automated inventory monitors in stores, the modern supply chain can be largely automated. Generally, the benefits are worth the investment, at least for a business of a certain size.
No matter what industry you’re in, maintaining a strong and appealing modern website is likely one of the most important things about your business. Today’s consumer can recognise a site that’s poorly built, lagging on updates, or otherwise dissatisfying in a moment, and it can give the appearance that the entire business is unreliable. While some may opt to keep a web designer or two on hand to address these concerns, this is another area in which digital investment can have a positive effect, too. Even once a site is up and running, Updatable states that you can now fix errors and tweak the site without having to undergo any drastic development efforts. This can be done through relevant software and apps, and makes it much easier for the modern business to keep a site up to date and address any issues that arise.
This can seem more like an external effort, but it’s still one that’s essential for any business looking to be competitive in the modern world. It’s also a broad area to focus on, but one in which strategic investment can go a long way. Ideally, your digital marketing effort should evolve some combination of content optimisation, SEO practice, social media outreach, and – to drive all of the above – data analysis of your own engagement. Whether you learn to manage all of this in house or you hire digital marketing professionals, these steps stand to significantly increase the attention and business your company generates, which makes them well worth some cost.
Where You Shouldn’t Spend
A Mobile App (for its own sake)
Today, if you ask the question of whether or not a business needs its own mobile app, you’ll find there’s little debate – the answer tends to be an unequivocal yes. Mobile apps offer a lot of benefits, and many have taken to describing them essentially as the new websites, in terms of how essential they are in business. We wouldn’t dispute that point in general, but we would advise anyone looking to invest in this category to be honest and introspective about it. Exploring the question of apps for businesses, Entrepreneur noted that some apps seem like solutions in search of problems, which is almost another way of saying some of them are a waste of resources. If you invest in this kind of project, be sure that description doesn’t fit your app. If it’s going to solve specific problems or add needed features to your business, it may be a good idea; if not, you may do just as well making sure your website is optimised for mobile access and leaving it at that.
Robust Accounting Software
Here, as with a mobile app, our advice isn’t to skip the idea altogether, but rather to approach it on a basis of need. When you read today about the essential digital upgrades businesses of all kinds can take advantage of, you tend to run into lists of the best accounting software, the most worthwhile premium services within them, and so on. It’s absolutely true that these software programs can save a lot of time, money, and energy keeping a business' finances in order. However, odds are if you’re just beginning to explore the idea you can get by with a fairly basic version of modern accounting software. If in time your business demonstrates a need for more robust software, you can always upgrade. But in the meantime, paying for a high-end program is likely unnecessary.
This is a vague assertion, but it’s still one to keep in mind. Spending on digital upgrades that practically and measurably improve a business is not only advisable, but necessary; spending on tech-oriented gimmicks in an attempt to impress consumers is a waste, if those same gimmicks don’t provide clear benefits. The Enterprisers Project described the idea of front-end focus as something that can be a “sneaky money-waster,” and made much the same argument: “In their eagerness to deliver new digital capabilities to customers or business users as fast as possible, many organisations funnelled money into digital front-ends,” the publication noted with regard to studied cases. Examples of this kind of waste can vary greatly, but more generally it’s worth asking yourself before any spending on a new digital venture what specific back-end benefits it offers the business.