Playing catch-up – why it’s time for the midmarket to embrace digital

Main visual : Playing catch-up – why it’s time for the midmarket to embrace digital

In these challenging times many organisations have had to re-evaluate the role technology plays in supporting their employees, customers and partners.  For some it has necessitated the need to accelerate their digital transformation plans to enable new ways of working.

However, digital transformation can have a dark side.

We do not often see it. The news is blindsided by success stories: huge corporations turning their fortunes around to deliver meaningful, industry-defining change.

But not every case study involves a big business.

And not every story is a success.

Many digital projects fail. And while the Amazons and Spotifys of this world can afford a ‘fail fast’ mentality, the truth is most companies can’t afford this luxury.

We don’t read a lot about the midmarket’s relationship with digital. And that’s strange considering that, for many regions, it’s mid-sized enterprises that make up the bulk of the economy.

This silent majority is on the brink of a brave new world. One where the digital arms race has pushed customer expectations sky high. The midmarket is expected to deliver experiences on the same scale as major corporations – yet with a fraction of the resources.

Can this be done? Absolutely. In fact, in many ways mid-sized businesses have an advantage over their lumbering big brothers.

But first, let’s look at some of the challenges these businesses face.

Identifying the challenges

Research suggests the biggest challenge for mid-sized businesses is setting up dedicated teams – understandable, when you consider the limited resources and employees they have.

Digging deeper, there are three main areas where mid-sized businesses struggle: gathering skills, securing budget, and depending too much on legacy systems and processes.

Of course, large companies also feel these constraints. But for smaller companies, the stakes are much higher. The consequences of mishandling a project – both for the business and CIO – can be dire.

Lack of resources are therefore felt more acutely in mid-sized businesses, many of whom would be perfectly happy to keep their processes exactly how they are. Unfortunately, that’s no longer an option.

However, as technology becomes more prolific, businesses are finding their lack of resource isn’t as big a barrier to entry as they once thought.

Levelling the playing field

Technology democratisation is a huge driver of midmarket innovation.

Not too long ago, any new addition to the tech stack took a huge amount of resource to implement. The expertise, headcount, and financial investment needed made innovation impossible for all but the major players. This isn’t the case today.

Things like AI, chatbots, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are ready to use out-the-box, and can be rolled out with relative ease.

The real enabler is the cloud. Many of these game-changing applications are built on flexible cloud infrastructure, leaving much of the complex work to cloud providers – things like patching, updating, and tuning.

Mid-sized businesses are therefore free to benefit from bleeding-edge technology without being hampered by skillset or budget limitations.

Leading the pack

The real irony is, now technology is accessible for all, it’s the midmarket that are becoming the digital leaders – not the business giants.

This is because smaller organisations have one key asset: agility.

Unencumbered by sprawling networks of administration and bureaucracy, the midmarket can adapt to market conditions much more quickly. Technology can be adopted company-wide in a relatively short amount of time, keeping them up-to-date with the very latest innovations.

In fact some mid-sized businesses are so successful, large corporations are trying to replicate their success.

This was the point I made in my last article. By setting up ‘microenterprises’, larger businesses can capture the nimbleness of the midmarket, empowering them to act divisively and react with the agility smaller businesses take for granted.

It’s a real make-or-break moment for the midmarket.  The stakes are high, but the opportunities are even higher. The only thing that’s certain is that mid-sized businesses need to adapt – and it’s the leadership teams who have the courage of their convictions who will ultimately lead the way.