How to digitize your company: tools and technology to be more efficient
We know that with the digital Kit with which the Government subsidizes the digitization of SMEs, today more self-employed and small entrepreneurs are thinking about processes to digitize their business. Whether to create a website, invest in process management with tools such as ERP, CRM, HR software, social media management and marketing, or more sophisticated Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain or big data solutions, You can access this aid if you have a company with no more than 50 employees.
Everything has a place since “there is a section on processes that is very broad. Many types of digitization solutions could fit in there: quality controls, data analytics, IoT platforms…”, explains José Luis García López , Business consultant in Seresco’s Digital Transformation Services Area.
In addition, digitizing agents, companies that have been approved by the Red.es Acelera program, can help you define what processes you need and even request aid. “The digitizing agent provides you with its technology. Vottun with blockchain, but there are companies that help with web pages, others with CRM, there are many digitization solutions and you have to find the digitization agent that best suits each one”, explains Marta Valles , co-founder of Vottun.
And not just technology. Providers such as Rockin Media or e-Tecnia Soluciones , for example, that accompany you throughout the process, from the creation of the website and your own online business to promotion on social networks to help you grow organically and digital management of customers.
Or PymeLegal , which helps SMEs and the self-employed to adapt their businesses to comply with the Data Protection Law (RGPD-LOPDGDD).
Where are you and where do you want to go?
Money is no longer an excuse to take the plunge. The question is how to give it. What does your company need to improve its processes and commercial actions right now? To reach that conclusion, all professionals suggest making a roadmap, thinking about what level of maturity your business is at and where you want to go right now, to see what technology can help you.
The Digital Kit itself also requires that first requirement: carry out a self-diagnosis of the level of digitization through the Acelera Pyme platform. Because the aid refers equally to starting to be digital and to expanding the level of digitization that each business has today. And the question to take advantage of them, just like if we talk about your own money, is to optimize processes that really give you an immediate return on your business.
We offer you here that analysis of the situation, section by section. Or all the digitization possibilities that a company has in its different areas of activity: from internal processes to be more efficient to external solutions for customer relations, social networks, etc.
The providers that suit you
Very briefly, several recommendations to start. One, look for technology that adds value to your business , that offers you tangible improvements. Two, it works with the cloud , it is what allows you to access cutting-edge technology at a low price. Three, do the whole process in phases , little by little, to measure results and see what works and what doesn't.
Four, don't just think about your own company, also analyze how your client has changed and what your competition is investing in to go digital. Or what improvement opportunities you can introduce that are already working in other similar businesses. Five, make a SWOT of your processes and analyze which are the most strategic areas to start introducing improvements.
Finally, don't forget to measure the results of your investments : time savings, process improvement, error reduction, greater business knowledge, increased billing, qualified leads, sales conversion...
the smart office
If we start from scratch, it is usual to start digitization by creating a web page. It is a basic process that you can tackle yourself with very simple and intuitive tools such as Ionos or Jimdo. Also WordPress , the most popular and one of the most recommended to generate content. O Umso , especially useful for startups and technology companies. They all offer many templates to choose from and create your website without programming notions.
Other basics to continue the process, the SaaS, since they are the solutions that have made the most sophisticated technology imaginable available to all businesses.
When you start comparing providers to go digital, you will find three options: SaaS solutions that adapt to all businesses; solutions that start from a development base but that require a certain adaptation to each particular business; and tailor-made solutions.
In general, SaaS will solve almost any need faster and cheaper than any other solution. In addition, they allow you to be up to date with the new features that appear on the market, without the need to make new investments. You pay for use, normally monthly fees that vary depending on the type of solution we are talking about and that can start from 10 euros per month. Many even have free versions for smaller businesses.
“Preferably look for SaaS or service models in the cloud, where the initial investment is low, you pay for use, and you will only grow in terms of higher spending on infrastructure, services, and technology platform, as your business grows. But it also validates the cost of leaving that platform the day it can no longer accompany your business growth and you need to migrate to another, what we call the technology lock-in or being captive in a technology”, warns Pedro Gallardo , Director of Development of Business of atSystems.
Another key not to make a mistake: always look for providers that offer solutions compatible with the main providers in specific areas. “If you have an ecommerce, that they adapt to Amazon, Shopify and the different web platforms at no cost. And if you have the inventory part, that you can manage all your products, your stocks…”, comments Bernat Ripoll, CEO of Holded. He adds: "We have to bet on easy-to-use tools that are constantly evolving because even today we don't have a manufacturing module, but tomorrow we do and we have to be prepared for it."
your own cloud
These SaaS tools usually work in the cloud. Having it will allow you to work remotely and access your business data securely. You can contract public clouds that are managed by the giants of the sector such as Google Drive , Microsoft OneDrive , Amazon Drive , Apple iCloud or Dropbox ; the most recommended format for small businesses. Another more expensive option is hybrid or completely private solutions, which are usually contracted by larger companies.
In the market there are Spanish providers such as Dinahosting , which offer solutions adapted to all these needs, depending on the size and type of company. Or the Swiss pCloud , with plans for companies that want to store their data in the US or Europe, with very strict legal requirements. different.
“The cloud is the great catalyst for digitization. It is a way to access innovation at low cost and zero risk, in addition to other attributes such as agility or flexibility”, explains Sergio Rivero , director of the Evolutio Cloud Business Unit.
If we talk about the big public cloud providers, you will not find big differences, they are all safe. If you are looking for a private or hybrid service, you should take a good look at "security (that there are no vulnerabilities) and the latency time in accessing information, that everything works well because I know how things work in a controlled environment, I have it here next to my desk, but if I'm going to take it to Frankfurt or Madrid I have to see how long it takes to respond to what I have in the cloud”, adds Rivero.
Another key is that “the cloud is not all or nothing. You don't have to take everything to the cloud, but you can start with a very small concept and grow as you see the return on investment that project has," Sergio Rivero recommends.
Digitizing is automating routines
In all companies there are repetitive tasks that do not add any value to the business and that can be done with the same quality (or more), in less time and at a better cost. This is one of the essences of digitization.
These automation tools are based on technology that you have surely heard of and that may sound distant to you, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain or Big Data. They are technologies that, thanks to SaaS formats, are already within the reach of all pockets and that are present in many daily activities in which you have not even noticed their presence. For example, AI is the basis of Google searches and "virtual assistants, conversational chats that allow you to interact with your customers in an agile way," says Pedro Gallardo.
Today it can be said that all commercial customer management is based on big data and Artificial Intelligence. If we talk about “a company in the industrial field, AI is key in predictive maintenance. Tools that allow us to anticipate a failure that ultimately translates into stopping a production chain thanks to machine learning algorithms ”, adds Pedro Gallardo.
The IoT is key to smart warehouse management and the blockchain to guarantee food traceability, among many other functions.
Here we are going to start with the day-to-day routines in the office, which every company and freelancer has, but that same premise can also be applied later to specific businesses, such as a consultancy, an online store or a screw manufacturer, in which which we will delve into later. Analyze in your case which are those processes that you can replace with technology.
If we talk about the digital office, in the market we will find specific solutions for specific tasks: software specialized in HR management, billing, time control, etc. And others that offer us everything in one and that adapt to all sectors and all sizes.
“From startups or businesses that are starting to expanding companies and large companies. We help them with a new generation of solutions that enable them to manage everything from cash to people. It is a social and mobile technology that offers information in real time so that quick and informed decisions can be made at any time and from anywhere”, explains Daniel Quílez , Marketing Intelligence & Product Office Manager of Sage Spain and Portugal.
Among these integrated solutions we find Becca Software, an all-in-one specialized for SMEs and freelancers that unifies CRM, ERP, SAP, POS and web functions. Also Monday.com and Holded.com , which has become one of the favorites of entrepreneurs since its launch. “Holded is a platform that allows you in a very simple way to manage all the paperwork, sales, purchases, etc. in a digital and accessible way, in such a way that it replaces the figure of the manager or agency”, explains Bernat Ripoll.
“It also allows you to manage employee vacations and payroll. It's not just an invoice tool. It also includes HR and CRM functionalities. All integrated. It is like a pyramid to which we add functionalities that solve real problems for SMEs”, says Bernat Ripoll.
If we talk about specialized tools in specific areas of the business, we can start with Google Docs , to process texts, or Slack, Basecamp, Trello and Asana , to work remotely and collaboratively.
Also the electronic signature to sign and send documents, invoices and contracts from anywhere in a secure way. “It helps to eliminate paper in the company and to operate with a digital identity on the network to carry out commercial transactions at any point, either with your suppliers, with your clients, or with electronic administration”, explains Sergio Ruiz , CEO of Signaturit.
He adds: “It is a tool focused on safety and cost savings, which also includes key issues that have to do with the legal obligations of the EU and qualification. Something that not all providers offer. In this sense, it is key that the electronic signature provider solves the problem from start to finish, that is, that it allows me to identify myself before different electronic venues, present and generate documents and contracts, sign and file them and notify the end customer. And that it is also capable of being integrated into my systems”.
Another leg of the specialization is billing software focused on SMEs and the self-employed, such as Factusol (billing, stock control and billing for services), Contasol (billing), Nominasol (payroll management and social insurance for companies and professionals), TPVSOL (Point of Sale Terminal Program for retail stores or distribution), among others. All of them developed by Software DELSOL and that have free versions without any type of limitation in time, number of companies, etc.
And tools for managing business expenses such as subscriptions, advertising payments, etc. and those that occur outside due to the displacement of employees, such as the commercial force. Tools that help to "eliminate" all the manual processes of managing expense notes, company cards and payments in which different employees within the same company are involved, from the employee who generates the expense to the different people who have to enter this information in the accounting system or in the ERP to record the expenses”, explains Iñigo Aguirre , Payhawk 's commercial director.
In addition to saving time, these applications also help save hard cash, since “a very high percentage of companies in this country are not deducting VAT from all tickets and receipts such as restaurants, gas stations, tolls, etc. With Payhawk we convert the receipts into invoices so that the company can recover the VAT”.
Within the specialization in HR, we will find tools that manage everything necessary for these departments and in turn others that specialize in specific areas of HR. Tools like Wofu , for time and vacation management; TramitApp , very advanced for shift management; Bizneo , Personio , Sesame HR…
“There is a difference between the tools that are very focused on certain processes, Recuiti , very good for recruitment, or Aturnos , for shifts, and other more complete ones like Personio and Sesame HR, which cover the entire process from employee onboarding to recruitment, evaluations, time control... The most specialized ones are usually for very large companies”, says Majo Castillo , Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sesame HR.
He adds: “The advantages of digitizing this information is that you can cross it with any other parameter. Record employee signings as required by Spanish law and be able to do it from different platforms, from mobile, tablet, computer... Also the management of employee vacations. It saves a lot of time and avoids mistakes that are often made when done manually. Share private documents such as payroll or employee terminations.
« In small companies such as a retail or a clinic where you work in shifts, it is a key tool to organize them. Or for companies that have night shifts, weekends and overtime… Rules can be applied for each employee. One who doesn't work on weekends, another who just works part-time, etc. and create schedules with a click”, continues Majo Castillo.
For companies of a certain size, this specialized software includes functionalities such as “the document manager to share manuals for the performance of the job in personalized folders for each of the employees. On boarding features for new signings. Or recruitment functionalities to organize the information of the candidates”, continues Castillo.
Until now we have talked about the internal digitization of a business, a leg of digitization that today should be covered by all companies. It is, shall we say, basic digitization. Now comes the most complex part of the process, the one that has to do with commercial management and sales. Or how your company relates to different market players.
Here it is about "digitizing the main commercial levers: customer database management, lead generation, commercial network management and commercial analytical reporting ", explains Sergio Esteve , partner in the BDO Consulting area. He adds: "In general, B2B and B2C companies can develop two types of sales strategies: inbound (attract the target buyer) or outbound (direct search )".
«The objective of these strategies is to generate new contacts or leads that are stored in a database to be managed later. A specific example would be the use of marketing automation , which allows the commercial cycle of approaching the client and the sales proposal to be managed automatically, generating more opportunities (more income), with fewer resources (more profitability). Another example is the use of commercial analytical reporting, which allows us to analyze and make better business decisions”.
In B2B environments, based on customer visits, there are also digitization solutions with INNOCar , a contactless card to share and record the commercial information of your sales force.
Customer Relation Manager (CRM)
In the relationship with customers, CRM is a basic tool for most businesses. In the market there are from simple but very complete solutions for all management and customer service such as Pipedrive or Kahuna CRM , to giants such as Salesforce or Hubspot.
The difference is that the latter require a certain adaptation of companies that develop solutions tailored to each client, such as Omega CRM. What does that layer of sophistication consist of? “Traditional CRM is very focused on the vision of B2B transactions, invoices, sales visits, etc. The most advanced tools provide all the data that exists around the digital interaction with the client: if they have visited my website, if they have been interested in the content of an email…”, points out Javier Arquelladas Molina , Founder and Chief Strategy & Growth Officer at OmegaCRM.
“And the concept of automation. Scalability models where I really leave a series of business flows preconfigured that, depending on what the client does digitally, happen practically without human interaction. In such a way that I can conduct my sales process at scale, without having to edit many resources, which is what SMEs normally do not have”, adds Arquelladas.
These business management tools work a lot with AI and big data. “They have an AI engine for recommendations. For example, which are the customers with a greater propensity to buy a certain product or what is the next action that you recommend to carry out with that customer. Normally our work is linked to a leading market solution, which is usually Salesforce, since it covers that digital 360 with which we position ourselves as a company”, continues Arquelladas.
«It is capable of offering an omnichannel experience of customer service, contact through digital marketing points, a sales experience and iteration of different teams oriented towards sales and towards e-commerce with a sales force, it covers the entire scope of the solution and the business processes that a company may need, whether it is B2B or B2C”, adds Javier Arquelladas.