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Digital business is good. Smart business is better!

Andy CampbellThis article is written by Andy Campbell, FinancialForce Global Solution Evangelist. Andy is laser-focused on helping customers leverage cloud-based technology to react faster, run smarter, and grow through disruption.  Get his insights here on a smart vs. digital business. 


Businesses today seem to have everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them! We have all navigated the economic uncertainty of COVID-19. And even as things return to “normal”, the dynamics have changed between businesses and their customers. Our perspectives have changed. So it stands to reason that customers want us to be more flexible, move faster and come to the table with more innovative products more often. None of us are into wasting time – we felt as though we were doing that through endless lockdowns. Now there’s a collective appetite for moving forward, and the competition might just swallow those who don’t feed it.

How to build a smart business
Embed intelligence, agility, and innovation into finance and service delivery
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Is digitisation the answer?

Not entirely. It’s part of the answer. But not all of it, and here’s why.

Digitisation is about taking time and error out of your business. Digital businesses move quickly. That’s true. And, they can “see” the customer: their journey and their choices so far. Which means they are better equipped to serve them well.

Smart businesses, however, take the data from a digital business and put it to work. They analyse that data, extract meaning and form strategies for taking that customer to the next level of success. They make that data as available to back-office functions, like finance, as it is to sales and marketing in the front office.

A digital business delivers your product or service off the back of your sales inquiry in a smooth process that flows from workflow to workflow, invisibly to you the customer. It also invoices you seamlessly and on time.

A smart company understands your historical buying patterns. It knows what has changed in your business and your market recently, impacting your needs. As a result, it uncovers opportunities for adjustments in service delivery that continuously delight you and your customers. And a smart business can predict new revenue streams that make sense and power your path to greater profitability.

That’s why smart businesses not only thrive, they lead!

Smart professional services organisations

Let’s look at what “being smart” could mean for a professional services business. As a smart business, you are ready for surges in demand – predicting them and hiring ahead of time. You have resources immediately available and are prepared to implement the new services you are working on. No opportunities are lost to being understaffed! Importantly, you don’t need to have those resources ready until the launch is in your sights – so you never have employee assets sitting on the bench and costing you money.

Smart finance organisations

What if you are a finance organisation? Surely your hands are tied until you know what Sales have been up to?

It’s a misnomer that finance needs to be reactive. Smart finance businesses are quite the opposite. They are proactive. And predictive!

Imagine holding a mirror up to where you have been as a business. Imagine using that view to make intelligent predictions about the future. Ones that make you operationally cost-efficient (often to an exponential degree) while accelerating you into new markets before your competition has had a chance to spin up a spreadsheet.

The fact is, smart businesses are connected businesses with a common, digital data view across departments and workflows. AND the intelligence (via AI and ML) to put that data to work.

The future belongs to smart businesses
Businesses today face not only increasingly challenging environments and tough economics, but also customers that constantly demand more.
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Why being smart matters more than digitising

Digital transformation is only going to get you so far. Of course, you will enjoy the benefits of automation and improving your existing processes. But by becoming a smart business you have the chance to leapfrog past those efficiency markers and go to where the market is.

 

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