Over the past year, I have seen an undeniable shift in how small and midsize businesses are investing in advanced technology, which was once considered too expensive, too complicated, and too focused on the large enterprise. The more executives I meet, the more I realize that tech solutions – such as collaboration, e-commerce, talent management, and business intelligence – are helping firms build greater efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

The IDC InfoBrief, “The Next Steps in Digital Transformation: How Small and Midsize Companies Are Applying Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP, supports my observation. The past year has shown growth in a wide range of technology. For more than half of business leaders surveyed, collaboration and CRM software proved to be the most popular acquisitions. But perhaps more astounding is how firms are increasingly embracing next-generation technology such as the Internet of Things (+15%), business networks (+14%), e-commerce (+13%), and talent management (+13%).

It is great news that firms are starting to mature their understanding and adoption of technology to accomplish long-term strategies for increasing revenue, customer acquisition, and efficiency. In addition to these strategies, companies should focus on technology that supports the delivery of data-driven insights.

Going beyond technology to deliver insights that drive real transformation

Even though most firms have the digital footprint to manage and analyze data in at least one of their applications, IDC reported that only 8% of gone beyond integration to derive real-time insights that yield business results. For the remaining 92%, this means a lost opportunity to map data-driven decisions directly to company strategies in real time and distribute such insights across the organization.

Achieving this level of data-driven operations requires firms to rethink where they can get the most bang for their integration buck across all applications and solutions. Small and midsize businesses should consider four capabilities in their digital plans to clearly define their path to higher revenues, more customers, and greater efficiencies:

  • Access more meaningful insights: By connecting mobile, predictive, data visualization, and Big Data analytics capabilities, employees can access real-time, beautiful, easy-to-understand insights that are relevant to their role and can be manipulated with ease to determine the best solution to a problem.
  • Simulate and predict what could happen next: A single source of truth about a company’s most important business metrics can help monitor, simulate, and dramatically improve the quality and speed of reporting. Decision makers need the ability to instantly drill into key areas of the business including revenues, sales pipeline, profit margin, and employee attrition while modeling opportunities and risks on the fly to anticipate the future.
  • Plan and collaborate on a course of action: Decisions based on generated data inputs and algorithms can be tested and validated – or invalidated – by working with stakeholders and team members.
  • Drive immediate value: Knowledge without action is a wasted opportunity. Firms should act quickly to help ensure they realize the full potential of an opportunity or offset the full impact of an emerging risk.

Unified data builds a future of better revenue growth, customer acquisition, and efficiency

Digital transformation isn’t just about technology – it’s about understanding disruptions that lead to dematerialization and commoditization of goods and services through digital platforms. But focusing only on generating more data is not the answer. A firm that lacks the data foundation to handle every piece of information generated will be stuck with false positives, data overload, and far too many choices. And like anything in life, overwhelming situations usually lead to one outcome – inaction.

Firms that win in today’s volatile, disruption-prone economy are the ones that give every employee, partner, and customer immediate access to the most relevant information they need to answer questions, understand the business, and seize new opportunities. The more intelligent and timely the decisions, the stronger the business will grow.

To learn how small and midsize companies are digitally transforming themselves to advance their future success, check out the IDC InfoBrief “The Next Steps in Digital Transformation: How Small and Midsize Companies Are Applying Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP. 

Blog originally published on the Digitalist Magazine.