As technology – and human beings – evolve, new words have to be used to describe what is happening. The word ‘digital’ may have once been used very little, but these days it is on everyone’s lips; the main trouble is that it means different things to different people.
We might say, “It’s a digital world these days” and simply mean that almost everyone uses a PC or iPhone. But saying ‘We need to go digital’ has a somewhat different meaning.
Different Shades of Digital for Business
Even for the business world, ‘digital’ has different shades of meaning. It is more about how things are done. We can now store information digitally and find it takes up less room. We can contact people digitally and find it is quick and convenient. Or we can change the way the whole company works to embrace the digital age and become more efficient and competitive. The latter encompasses a whole different way of doing almost everything.
Analyse, Build, Measure, Repeat
Automating business reporting, building a website, accounting through a portal, a new logo or a new mobile app. These are examples of “going digital” that all businesses can embrace for a lot less than they think. A new digital project always requires examination of the desired end outcome and therefore a business already has a success benchmark that can be measured and reported. It also means that their customer base can expand exponentially once they have the results back to tweak, retry and/or try anew.
Too Much Communication?
To most people away from the world of business, the word digital simply means a way of communicating with their friends and family. Using iPhones is second nature to most people these days and means you can communicate with someone without actually talking to them, thus it is more convenient and less invasive. An email or text message can be sent quickly with hardly any interruption to your day. That said, much time is consumed in spelling out all the words and waiting for the reply. Checking their phone for messages takes up a lot of time. Being constantly available to friends and enemies alike means very little privacy or down time. No wonder people are feeling stressed.
Keep Learning through Digital
To the older generation ‘digital’ may mean they can do video calls with grandchildren they may not see very often otherwise. It is all about photos and maybe email rather than streaming music or movies. That is on a personal level. But what about a small business run by an older person who does not have much time – or the inclination – to learn about anything digital? They may one day find it much more difficult to get the services they need.
Online Forms, Not Fax
For instance, a farmer who sees no need to ‘go digital’ suddenly finds he cannot get the tail tags or forms that he needs to sell his cattle because the PP Board in his local town closed down. Now they have a central office hundreds of kilometres away and offer their service from a website. Suddenly, forms must be ordered from the website and paid for online. So he is pushed into the 21st century, complaining loudly all the way. Or if he is lucky, his grandchildren do it for him.
Opportunities to Run a More Efficient Business
Small businesses are less likely to have all the services they need, but will find that they work with digital service providers easily and quickly once they embrace the digital world. For instance, a glass cutter who makes and installs shower stalls cannot be at his place of business all the time when he is out on the job. Even with a mobile phone he can miss out on business, simply because he cannot work and answer the phone at the same time. But he could easily get a VA to answer the phone for him.
Or what about a truck driver who spends hours on the road, often out of his local area? He won’t feel like doing his books when he gets home – and may not even know how to keep proper records. But digital records are easy to keep and accounting can be done by a specialist so that he can spend more time driving and not be fined by the ATO for late – or no – tax returns.
Small businesses cannot afford to hire IT staff permanently, but they can still have a website built and managed to expand their business by working with the right digital service providers. There are many things in the digital world that can expand your business; you don’t have to know how to do it all yourself when there are professionals just a few clicks away.
A Feeling of Achievement, Every Day
So really, ‘digital’ really comes down to your own strategy for different and easier way of doing many things in both business and personal lives. Digital can help you refine what is important to you and the best way to achieve in the time you need it, and taking an active interest in digital opportunities, you’ll have a better sense of achievement day to day.