KAMPALA — We will never forget the 4 months total lock-down that directly affected majorly the non-essential businesses! As we walk down the memory lane of COVID-19, some of our peers and loved ones would have survived, and hopefully not many succumbed to the virus, but most importantly believing that a good number will not contract it. Life would unquestionably carry on. Some businesses will thrive as they harness the opportunities that would have arisen from COVID-19, others will weather the storm, and probably a few will wind up.
True, there is a lot of speculation about how the future SMEs will behave, operate and thrive. We are already experiencing dramatic shifts in the way some are working, being driven and enabled by new digital-experience platforms like zoom for e-meetings, crafting online operations, day deliveries and artificial intelligence, most importantly creating an experience that is self-focused and adaptive.
Included with these spins, is the empowered consumer who demands a level of service that is delivered in real time. This pivot stance has dictated that the future SME must flex operations to cope with the new normal. Certainly, SMEs should plan and prepare for the remarkable change in mindsets and approaches to the way customers think, behave, and anticipate in the near future.
Indeed, the future SMEs will proactively focus on digital transformations that are significantly improving their opportunities to enhance both the customer experience, increase speed of innovation, increase productivity, and increase effectiveness of decision-making results, by having some predictive analytics available. Profit-wise, the flexible SMEs have had a blissful business season.
Within the next few years, firms that have not integrated a digital strategy may find themselves unable to compete in the evolved market. The smart and flexible SME will thrive: Clinics will start tele-medicine, supermarkets, boutiques, and groceries will then do home deliveries, access stimulus packages, among others. Our call to the SMEs is to leap into this new normal, probably the “unknown” to them.
To remain competitive, SMEs need to ensure they have a robust strategic transformation strategy that starts with the mindsets and actions of leadership. SMEs making it a forward-looking priority need to also ensure every critical aspect is covered in their transformation strategy development, like staff development.
As this experience gets rolled out, it serves as the operational blue-print and standards guide. The future will have SMEs anticipate and proactively develop the relevant capabilities needed to perform effectively in the new environment, and to meet the demands of the future customer. A strategy that is executable needs to use a holistic approach that goes beyond just getting the document; but the approaches, tools, and resources must also be aligned to execute on each aspect of the strategy.
Thus, the pivotal strategy plays a vital role that becomes the calibrated compass-point for the execution and continued evolution of the SME. By addressing this, firms can produce an effective strategy that guides the creation, implementation, and evolution of the much needed transformation. This initially positions and informs the business case for the transformation and development of future-of-work performer experience.
The future of SMEs is already budding; now is the time to anticipate, design and align with business needs. SMEs need to focus on empowering employees to develop their skills, and to stay relevant in a fast-moving digital and agile environment. A solid strategy and conviction to be proactive are needed to particularly advance digital transformation, as we ensure preparedness to solve new problems across a varied landscape of changing business services, and ever-evolving customer demands.
The writer is the General Manager – Commercial Banking at Centenary Bank.