The Digital Transformation Journey in Mid-Market is Real

A guest post by Romi Mahajan, President KKM Group and Dharmesh Godha, President Advaiya

If the only source of information in the world was the business press, one could forgive anyone for believing that only a few, large companies are important. In the world of technology, we read about Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple: We get to know these companies well and through the narratives of the more clever of the journalist breed, even come to understand a few nuances. We hear a bit too about the next layer of companies; still it is fair to say that 90% of articles cover the top 10% of organizations.

What’s lost in this concentrative focus is that SMBs are also worthy of understanding- they are complex and important and can also be very innovative and forward-looking. Some of them are in a growth mode while others’ choose to remain small, nimble, and rewarding to their owners and workers. As in Baseball, not all hits have to be grand-slams- singles can be fine too.

When we take the time to focus on and understand Mid-Sized companies- spread across verticals and industries—we find that they grapple with issues, evaluate opportunities, and look to improve in very much the same way as their larger counterparts do. In some ways, the challenges are more profound: There are less resources in terms of money and people and still the same set of opportunities and technologies to evaluate. The “staying power” of Mid-Sized companies is less (a bad 6 months can lead to bankruptcy) so in fact being agile and responsive to customers is, interestingly, more important than in large enterprises. A few bad hires can ruin a smaller company, so HR and People processes have to be more exacting. It might seem like a Bizarro world- in which everything is inverted—but Mid-Market organizations require, often, a deeper focus.

Given this, the idea of Digital Transformation inevitably creeps in. How can mid-sized manufacturing or distribution companies use the tools of digital modernity to improve all aspects of their businesses? As has been pointed out by Jon Roskill in Information Week, Digital Transformation is not magic, is not “one and done.” It is not a spell the mere incantation of which will create abundance and prosperity. It is a journey that requires both planning and dynamism- planning because we have to know where we are going in order to get there, and dynamism because we know that the “unknowns” will pop up along the way.

Digital Transformation neither starts nor ends with technology. It starts with a commitment to improve and ends with the creation of a lasting culture of open-ness and ability to deal with ambiguity. Along the way, technologies of all sorts play an important role and enable people and processes.

Digital Transformation can be both recognizable and unrecognizable from the outside. In some examples- like mobile-ordering at Starbucks, the effects are visible- new scenarios emerge and change human behavior. Of course, one can only imagine the years of planning and implementation that went into that!

At other times, Digital Transformation simply “melts into the air.” When the integration of Business Applications saves an employee 10 minutes of work per transaction- that is absolutely Digital Transformation but we as consumers don’t really “see it.”

Digital Transformation, thus, can be both sexy and quotidian. Either way, it is important and backed by inspiration and perspiration.

For mid-sized companies, this hard work will not necessarily make the cover of the newspaper or be bandied about in online forums. But when we remember the spirit of the word “transformation,” we realize that indeed SMBs can truly be transformed with the right vision and execution, in real and not just rhetorical terms.

The good news is that many technology platform companies are beginning to understand just how fertile the SMB market is. Reality is loud- The Digital Transformation journey in the Mid-Market is real.

 

Written by Paul Dunay
Paul Dunay is an award-winning B2B marketing expert with more than 20 years’ success in generating demand and creating awareness for leading technology, consumer products, financial services and professional services organizations. Paul is the global vice president of marketing for Maxymiser a leading web optimization firm, and author of four “Dummies” books: Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley 2009), Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies (Wiley Custom Publishing 2010), Facebook Advertising for Dummies (Wiley 2010) and Facebook Marketing for Dummies 2nd Edition (Wiley 2011). His unique approach to marketing has led to recognition of Paul as a BtoB Magazine Top 25 B2B Marketer of the Year for 2010 and 2009 and winner of the DemandGen Award for Utilizing Marketing Automation to Fuel Corporate Growth in 2008. He is also a finalist for the last six years in a row in the Marketing Excellence Awards competition of the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), and is a 2010 and 2005 gold award winner in Driving Demand. Buzz Marketing for Technology, Paul’s blog, has been recognized as a Top 20 Marketing Blog for 2009 and 2008, a Top Blog to Watch for 2009 and 2008, and an Advertising Age Power 150 blog in the “Daily Ranking of Marketing Blogs.” Paul has shared his marketing thought leadership as a featured speaker for the American Marketing Association, BtoB Magazine, CMO Club, MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), and ITSMA. He has appeared on Fox News, and his articles have been featured in BusinessWeek, The New York Times, BtoB Magazine, MarketingProfs and MarketingSherpa. Paul holds an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Computer Science from Ithaca College.