Every business owner wants his company to be scalable, adaptable and future-proof.They need to understand what S.M.A.C is all about. Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud Computing hold the key to how each business grows based on how well they create a strategy and integrate it with their operations.
Things are never easy when it comes to running a business. I have a little bit of insight into this as I have worked for start-ups which have actually implemented most of the things mentioned above. Let me just define what this means first and then I will elaborate on why they are of strategic importance to run a business in today’s age and how would it affect your business & customers.
- Social: It mostly comprises of social media and how companies use it to communicate with their audience. It is a means by which businesses can interact with potential customers and partners in the cheapest and most effective ways. This also helps in building relationships both internally and externally. You can effectively reply to your customer queries via social media and any positive feedback on social media from your customer would elevate the overall mood of the employees within the organisation.
- Mobile: This is very crucial as it is the cheapest and easiest means by which people have access to information online. The number of mobile users increases every year. If a business can integrate mobile into its business then it is quite safe for some time. When I say integrate mobile it means making your products or services accessible via mobile and making it easier for customers to have access to the information you put out there right in the palm of their hands.
- Analytics: A company that is solely focussed on the growth of its customers, as well as itself, should be able to integrate and analyse the gigabytes of data that is generated for free every year with the help of analytics. The company that is able to understand and turn this into meaningful insights will end up being the market leader.
- Cloud Computing: It is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.It is easier to use and to store data. It is a huge advantage for startups as the costs involved are less when compared to the days before cloud computing was commercialised.
Let us look at how each of these would help companies grow in the digital age and help them transform the way they do business. One of the key aspects to remember here is that it is important to figure out how each of these should be implemented for your organisation and at what stages of your growth you need to implement it.
- When it comes to social it is all about how you project yourself to your audience. Are you there to forge relationships,are you there to grow your audience,are you there sell your services & products or are you there to educate your audience. Very few companies have managed to do all of the above without seeming like they are only there to sell.
- Another Important thing about social is that all the social networking platforms have analytics inbuilt. These give you insights for no cost at all. How you use this will show how good you are with using social media as a tool to drive and grow your business.
- Building your audience with the help of your own website and blog is one of the most fundamental aspects if you want your company to be labelled as a social company.
- Looking at global trends, Indian Internet users are also increasingly using social media, which in turn is providing opportunities for brands to leverage social media strategy for engaging with customers, product launches and for knowing their customers wants and likes.
- There are a few challenges when it comes to mobile for companies. The first basic issue is that they have to figure out on how to reach their customers on multiple platforms. You have Windows, Android and Ios as the major operating platforms.
- Hiring resources is an issue when it comes to developing mobile applications. Most companies are initially focussed on developing it for PC. I had the opportunity to work for many start-ups and every place that I have worked has always allocated the least amount of resources for the mobile app development team.
- The important point to remember is that no matter how hard you try to shape the experience of customers accessing your site via PC it will never be able to beat the ease of browsing via Mobile. It is easy to use and the network connections 3g/4g are at affordable rates now.
- I feel one of the most important aspects for companies when it comes to analytics is how to handle customer acquisition and churn management. In today’s world it is very difficult to do both these things but with analytics, it becomes very easy to manage.
- Analytics is all about analysing the data you have gathered. These days we have different kinds of data like Internet data (info found via social media and other online portals), data obtained through primary and secondary research, location data obtained via GPS.
Now when it comes to uses, let us take 4-5 industries as examples: Healthcare, Retail,IT,Transportation, Banking & Manufacturing.Across all these industries customer retention and acquisition are what analytics are most used for.Other than that
- Banks can use it for fraud detection,
- Retail industry can use it for inventory management, supply chain management and retail stores can use it for market basket analysis,
- Manufacturing industries can use it for quality assurance and testing,
- Transportation companies can use it for traffic management.
Big data analytics: I know this might be a new term for most of you but the advantage of this is that it is not that expensive to go for. You have few companies that can provide you with servers that can analyse terabytes of data within seconds. Two of the best ones that I know about are Google’s BigQuery and Hadoop. I have heard from a lot of companies that BigQuery is a bit cheaper and more efficient than Hadoop. I have had the opportunity to use BlueMix from IBM for a certain period of time. It was pretty amazing as to how powerful the tool was in terms of analysing data. It is expensive but has a lot of features.
- In simple words offering information technology services over the Internet. For example take Salesforce.com which was the first company to launch a completely cloud-based platform to deliver enterprise applications via a simple website. Amazon web services is another example.These computers handle customer queries and monitor the performance of these systems. They can have many more functions based on the type of business model.
- They are secure and provide high levels of encryption. Initially, the concept was new and companies hesitated to share their information assuming that the companies that hosted their information would have access to them which is not the case.
- For any start-up these days this is a viable option. It is affordable and the costs incurred are very less as compared to the alternatives.
This article just gives an outline of what is necessary for any business to transform itself in the Digital age and the basic things you need to know and how to go about doing just that.