Redefining success in modern business: Four trends for SMEs

By David Malan, Sales Director – UK & Ireland, DocuWare

In recent years, SMEs have been challenged with overcoming many significant hurdles. From rising inflation and escalating energy prices, to supply chain vulnerabilities and workforce scarcities, not to mention the continuing ripple effects from the pandemic. However, these challenges can be unveiled as potential avenues for SMEs to expedite digitisation and embrace established technologies to flourish for years to come.

In this article, I’ll discuss four crucial SME business trends that are shaping the current – and future – business landscape and, along with each, give you valuable insights and effective strategies for your business to navigate them successfully.

Digitalisation

Unlocking the potential of careful research and planning is no secret to driving success in digitisation projects, especially for SMEs. For smaller teams, a gradual approach to digitalising processes within departments builds confidence among users and fosters engagement. By commencing this journey gradually and involving employees from different departments, SMEs can steer clear of investing in ineffective systems and wasting valuable time and money.

For example, let’s look at digital document management. This tool helps organisations process, capture, store, manage and track documents.  This offers easy access to documents and helps you adhere to regulatory compliance requirements. The best document management software lets you control who has access to files and even creates audit logs. This helps you ensure secure information is truly available on a need-to-know or confidential basis.

Automation

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Through workflow automation tools SMEs can discover a realm of time-saving and enhanced efficiency opportunities. By automating operations, your business liberates teams to dive into more rewarding activities. However, it’s important to still remember that automation isn’t a universal solution. Automation thrives on precise, extensive data for dependable outcomes. So, choose tasks for automation mindfully, ensuring the data’s integrity. Embracing automation translates to not only saving precious hours and resources but also magnifying employee contentment and catalysing revenue streams for your SME.

My advice? Start small. Say in accounts, where for example automating invoice processing yields not just time savings but also diminished errors, translating into long-term cost efficiency. It also ultimately empowers accounting experts to channel efforts into strategic endeavours.

Data-led decision-making

Navigating the data landscape is a vital pursuit for SMEs, yet harnessing its full potential often poses challenges. The key lies in gathering and analysing data within a central hub accessible to all stakeholders. The confinement of data in separate silos hampers effective communication, collaboration, and innovation across departments.

Adopting centralised data solutions leads to precise insights, enabling well-informed business decisions. And so, SME leaders can effectively steer efforts toward achieving company objectives. In this era driven by data, SMEs must embrace impeccable data management practices to wield insights that inform wider business success.

Cloud-based platforms

The last three years have redefined the working norm, as hybrid teams alternate between home and office settings. Embracing this evolving landscape, SMEs where possible must seize the potential of cloud-based solutions. These platforms grant secure, scalable remote access to vital documents and workflows, aligning seamlessly with this new working landscape.

Cloud platforms excel in fostering collaboration beyond office confines, creating adaptable, mobile workspaces that stand as vital assets in today’s business scenario for many SMEs. The present juncture presents a golden opportunity for SMEs to invest in cloud solutions, ensuring competitiveness and avoiding falling behind in comparison to competitors.

Embracing technology to drive success

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, the potential of digital tools to streamline processes is undeniable. However, amidst the overabundance of technology platforms available, it’s understandably easy to feel lost. This is where SMEs can take a proactive stance by embracing a comprehensive enterprise content management solution (ECM) that not only simplifies but also transforms processes.

In this era of rapid change, where innovation and efficiency intertwine, opting for an ECM solution is a testament to an SME’s forward-thinking approach. This addresses immediate challenges and also aligns with the future landscape of integrated business practices. Navigating through a sea of options, SMEs that choose a versatile ECM solution are positioning themselves as leaders of change, embracing technology’s power to unite, optimise, and drive success for years to come.

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