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Ramona Wagner

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What does it mean for a business to be digitally ready? The majority of businesses, especially SMEs are struggling mostly with getting their head around all of the things they should be doing. Time and resources are often their biggest enemies as well as a lack of using digital skills effectively. But why is this the case? Many businesses can make the jump from being a small business to becoming leaders and innovators in their field, often growing in size quite dramatically.

So what does digital readiness really mean? Let's face it, digital is the future and will not go away. For a business, this means that digital skills used in marketing, customer service and overall business operations are here to stay and are recognising the fact that digital is a must and no longer a nice factor to differentiate themselves. A digitally ready business is one that is already looking at the future, taking advantage of digital rather than struggling to survive and remain in business. SMEs are the backbone of the tourism industry but the majority is struggling to keep up with the changing digital landscape.

Over the last year, we have been working closely with different organisations and business clusters that are already providing business support for their local businesses in Southern Norway and Scotland. They approached us to help businesses understand their current position online and assess their digital readiness. Of course, this is not something new but for an organisation working with different businesses, it can be quite challenging to direct them to use the right resources. Business clusters will already have plenty of help and support in place but it is critical to be able to direct businesses to adequate resources and material based on their digital readiness and needs.

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So we began this journey to investigate the complexities of digital readiness for businesses a bit further. The digital environment continues to change, making it quite difficult for small businesses to keep up with these changes and create a fully digital and immersive experience both online and inside their business. Businesses now have to be ready to fundamentally transform their often old-school approaches to get up to date and embrace digital at all levels. This is often not an easy task and can be a lengthy process.

Our digital readiness assessments, therefore, focus on critical areas such as:

  • What is your current attitude to growing your business?
  • How would you describe your digital skills and knowledge?
  • Are you following a digital strategy?
  • How are you communicating with your consumers?
  • What resources do you have available for digital?
  • How are you measuring your performance?
  • In which areas do you need the most support?

The digital readiness assessment aims to identify where a business has gaps and is not digitally ready. The outcomes and results of the assessment are a clear business profile with regards to its current status of digital readiness, pinpointing specific improvements that the business should implement.

Whenever speaking to businesses, it is very clear that there is already so much information available online. However, by working with a range of SMEs in Norway and Scotland, we have learned that sometimes it is helpful to pinpoint a business to those areas that they should improve to be future ready. We have even introduced a digital readiness scoring system that can help a business to compare itself with other businesses.

The majority of businesses that have taken the assessments so far are in the lower or medium scale of digital readiness. So there are clearly many improvements and a generally more digital mindset that is needed for tourism businesses. However, SMEs are generally eager to learn and better themselves and among the many businesses taking the assessment, we have seen great efforts in genuinely becoming more digitally ready.

What do businesses need to be ready and succeed in digital? In general, it is important to provide a mix of tools and information that can help businesses succeed, combined with creative and hands-on approaches to get to grips and succeed with digital. When working on a business digital readiness, this is certainly something to focus on in the long-term. SMEs that are future proof and ready for what the future holds are continuously working on becoming truly digital, embracing opportunities and overcoming challenges using digital tools and technologies.

 

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