Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to the global economy, however, it can be difficult to grow and succeed in today’s competitive markets. In fact, a study conducted last year found that over half of small businesses fail to survive longer than five years in the UK. There are a lot of challenges that can inhibit their success; obvious ones, such as gaining new customers, managing increasing costs, or securing repeat business, as well as more unusual ones, such as gaining access to the skill pool, or having the experience to elevate an idea into an achievable business goal.

How organisations manage increasingly complex processes they face is key to business growth. Many don’t realise the impact that relying on inefficient processes can have on the bottom line. For example, the inability to access documents remotely or from a mobile device, and fragmented information silos, are all very big problems in a world where people expect immediate access to information. Businesses are subsequently turning to include digitisation, the cloud and multi-channel communications, all of which, when managed correctly, can provide long-term benefits.

Going digital

Businesses are increasingly operating in a world where digital technology is expected. Take communications, for example. While physical mail is still an important communication channel to communicate with customers, the last decade has undoubtedly seen a shift towards more digital channels. More and more customers are choosing to be contacted via email, social media and everything in between, and it’s crucial that businesses have a well-managed, multi-channel communication strategy in place that considers their customers’ preferences. Failing to do this risks alienating a large number of customers and, subsequently, lost business.

Aside from customer demand, digital technology offers companies very real business-growing benefits. One of the biggest is that it can provide a much more direct route to the intended recipient. Indeed, digital communication can reach its destination instantly. The speed with which customer queries are resolved or invoices and contracts are sent can be the difference in securing repeat business and prompt payment, or losing out to a competitor.

Going digital also increases the accuracy and reliability of communications. The processing, preparation and sending of documents can all by automated, removing the opportunity for human error. Moreover, removing manual processes also decreases the burden on employees, who are then able to spend their time on other vital business growing activities.

Courting the cloud

The cloud, in particular, has the power to simplify the way businesses run their business. While investing in the cloud may seem daunting, it provides very real benefits. It grants access to enterprise applications at a fraction of the price and mostly without the need for any costly and time consuming IT services. Additionally, it lifts geographical constraints and improves efficiency. For example, documents can be saved remotely and securely making them accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. By failing to adopt cloud based technology, organisations will undoubtedly find themselves one step behind everyone else.

Digital and cloud technology is playing an important role in helping businesses overcome some of the traditional barriers to growth. Faced with strong competition, many SMEs face a long, hard battle to establish themselves, which is why it’s so important that they have the most efficient processes in place. Being ‘digital ready’ is something all companies need to be thinking about – according to Gartner, all businesses will soon be digital businesses. By implementing digital and cloud technology, businesses will be able to reap the rewards of an efficient communication strategy that will help them overcome the odds and grow.

By Erwan Kernevez, digital solutions director, Neopost