Our partners and theAsianIR have serviced over 300 clients in 2017. Keeping the new year tradition of predictions, here are our 2018 digital transformation predictions specific for SMEs, covering the top digital trends for 2018 that will likely dominate next year’s conversation.
2018 digital transformation trend #1: Big Data - The new frontier
We are already seeing SMEs focusing more on increasing data production or setting up the infrastructure to extract more data. There are estimates to suggest that data production by Companies will increase 4300% by 2020 and that mismanaged data will cost businesses $3.3T by 2020. With Adwords setting a rule recently to double the daily budget, and Baidu requiring a minimum downpayment of 9000 yuan before starting any Ads, all these underscore the importance of having a historical data infrastructure. To avoid relying predominantly on these mediums with not much Data to show for, SMEs are increasingly feeling the need for a data infrastructure that captures, connects and leverages all data across any business points. This empowers SMEs to accurately predict customer behaviour, which can be used to fine-tune their offerings so that SMEs can connect directly with consumers. This also allows SMEs to generate a higher ROI when they do spend on FANG and BAT.
2018 digital transformation trend #2: Big Data - The importance of Full Funnel Insights
In addition to PPC, Companies are also relying on Social Media for outreach. With the advent and maturity of digital marketing channels available to B2B and B2C businesses alike, two-thirds of CMOs plan to increase investments in digital advertising in 2018, while 63% plan to pause or cut budget through old-media channels. What does this mean? It means that marketers are more ROI-focused than ever, and because they’re not always seeing ROI commensurate to their increasing spend, they need full-funnel visibility to see exactly which parts of their funnel are returning value, and more importantly, which ones aren’t.
This does not necessarily mean relying still on PPC and Social Media, but using their own digital infrastructure and open architecture software systems to track user-ship (from multiple stakeholders including vendors, customers, merchants and employees). Full Funnel Insights only work when real and verified data is used, and SMEs are beginning to see the real business value of such data.
2018 digital transformation trend #3: O2O goes to the masses
SMEs are beginning to know that they can also compete with the big tech boys in their industry because its not difficult to own the Technology that powers the likes of Uber, Grab, Taobao and Propertyguru. So this means that SMEs, especially those in sunset industries, can adapt these technologies and implement new business models used by the big tech boys in their industry, positioning them better to take some market share of them.
With technology such as ride-hailing and geo-tracking now a mere commodity, the time has come for SMEs to use new business models into the digital world and translate them into offline profits and revenue.
When you are already operating for 20 years as a corporate advisor but seeing lesser customers, how do you turn things around and grow? By going online, conducting all your lead generation and project scoping online, so that the first instance of meeting the customer offline is merely a formality (i.e handing over work).
And when you are already the biggest online retailer in your country, then how do you continue to expand? By going offline, which Alibaba has done by launching Hema, an offline brick-and-mortar supermarket famous for fresh produce and seafood. Other online retailers are building out offline presences to offer local inventory, directly shaping customer experience on the ground and mitigate the burdensome costs of return shipping by using brick-and-mortar locations as return centers.
2018 digital transformation trend #4: The new profit margin is also known as "Relevance"
Here's a 2018 digital transformation that will explode back into prominence sooner than any of us think; Personalised campaigning. This new feature is embedded in all open architecture that we provide, which makes the systems smarter as more data and user behaviour is captured. This feature will be SMEs new indispensable tool.
If your messaging isn’t relevant to the user, then sorry. That’s the end of the road for your campaign for that user. In the meantime, the increased AdWords budget cap means that bidding on highly relevant long-tail keywords may fall further out of reach for SMEs that don’t have a good solution to calculate optimal bids, blowing budgets out of the water.
A super targeted social media and web search campaign will suss out users that can be that potential consumer, influencer, employee or partner. 2018 will see us launching a targeted social media users analytics tool that will put SMEs significantly further ahead of competitors who still rely on campaign blasting.
In 2018, SMEs will need to take greater strategic control of their operations and their full customer journey. The path to this control lies through data-driven insights that help them accurately forecast budgets against future performance, and through relevant messaging that captures interest from customers at all stages of the funnel.
About the Author
Huan Johnson Koh is the CIO of theAsianIR, an O2O and Big Data solutions provider, empowering every entrepreneur with the tools to be the next Uber. Using open architecture, APPs, and various interfaces for each stakeholder, theAsianIR easily deploys digital resources to SMEs of any industry, so that they can be data-driven, and use data to implement new business models, tracking insights across their entire business value chain.