Small Businesses Lack an Integrated Digital Strategy

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2013-11-28 Print this article Print

More than half of respondents cited the need to better understand how social media fits with other operational priorities, and how to measure its ROI.

Small and midsize businesses may not be as digitally savvy as they would like, according to a global study of more than 300 C-Suite leaders by technology giant IBM.

The survey found more than half of midmarket companies lack an integrated digital strategy, and 65 percent of the midmarket C-Suite business executives recognized that the lack of a cohesive social media plan is the biggest barrier to doing more in the digital space.

In addition, more than half of respondents also cited the need to better understand how social media fits with other operational priorities, and how to measure its return on investment.

"Understanding what resonates well with these customers can bring valuable insights to the development of new products, services and promotions, enabling smaller businesses to break through in this challenging and influential segment," John Mason, general manager of IBM Midmarket Business, said in a statement. "Smaller companies which use their agility to place customers front and center in their ecosystem, embrace cloud, social and engagement marketing strategies could end up huge winners."

The survey indicated companies that have successfully fused the digital and physical, including big data analytics, mobile and cloud, to achieve transformation were 26 percent more likely to outperform their rivals.

The majority of midmarket chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed say they aim to digitize their front offices within the next few years as part of an overall effort to focus more on the customer experience, suggesting chief marketing officers (CMOs) aren’t alone in their desire to create an integrated digital strategy.

Specifically, midmarket CMOs want to put all the components of a strong digital strategy in place, the survey indicated. These components include an increased focus on integrating cross channel touch points, analytics to capture customer insights, social networks to foster collaboration, and mobile and cloud to achieve advanced operational efficiencies and attract and market to new customers.

Overall, 85 percent of C-level executives plan on identifying unmet customer needs, while 83 percent want to focus on responding to emerging trends.

"Analytics, mobile and cloud technologies allow small and midsize businesses to tap into the social channels of influential customers who have a deep interest in their products and services," the report concluded. "Engaging these digital influencers helps brands connect on a deeper level with current and future customers. The future of brand strategy will include an ability to demonstrate authenticity to those who actually help define an SMB's markets, and then turn customers into influencers."


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