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How Do I Digitize My Small or Medium-Sized Business Cost-Effectively?

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November 2, 2020
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7 minutes

If you run a small business, you’ve managed to pilot your brand through the tumultuous changes of the last decade. You’ve done it capably. But with blockchain, AI, and IoT emerging as major opportunities for you to modernize, it’s time to check out consulting firms that can help you on your path to digitalization.

After all, digitalization done right is like a rocket booster on your growth capabilities. It’s been shown to yield a 10 to 20 per cent reduction in production and supply chain costs, a 15 to 30 per cent cut in working capital, and up to 6 percent revenue growth due to added efficiency for businesses who invest in going digital at scale.

Instead of starting your search for a digital consultant with the old bastion of the Big 4 – Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – or big consulting firms that have been “playing the game” for what seems like forever, you can now take advantage of agile workforce strategies and opt to digitalize with independent digital experts. After all, traditional consulting firms charge you freely for their services. If you’re a smaller business, don’t you want to digitalize more economically?

We think that the answer is a resounding yes. So, here’s your new consulting model: hire digital consultants from freelance networks! By doing so, your business gains practical knowledge for better value. And, if you go through a trusted network to find these independent experts, you can be assured that they’ll still provide the following consulting essentials:

  1. Lay out a “big picture” solution for your specific organisation
  2. Create a technical roadmap for how you’re going to implement the solution
  3. Offer support for creating consensus among stakeholders and management and cultivating employee buy-in.

On-the-Ground Digital Pioneers Offer Valuable Insight

This agile consulting model of relying on freelance experts specifically targets consulting essentials from a pragmatic, hands-on perspective. That’s because even major, established consulting brands are trying to figure out how new technologies work and impact the industry. For this reason, they’re often not the most skilled source out there when it comes to figuring out how to navigate the practical aspects of digitalization.

Just ask yourself: whose opinion do you trust more? A consultant who has studied automotive digitalization and advised a company or two on how to introduce AI, or an ex-factory manager who has piloted AI automation, run into issues getting worker support, dealt with faulty machines, and managed via trial and error to make the program a success regardless?


When it comes to digital experience, you’ll find valuable talent if you focus on what they’ve done in practice, not theory. This means that whenever possible, you should seek out people who are digital pioneers. They’re the ones who have the industry expertise with the technical roadmap timing, internal training, and countless machinations that set up a digital initiative for success.

"The biggest opportunity for big companies has come by far in the digitization of internal processes." - Jack Welch

But Don’t Throw Consultants Out the Door Just Yet

While self-taught experts in what works and what doesn’t can give you valuable advice on the nuts and bolts of implementing a digital strategy, there’s still the essential of getting everyone on board this new initiative. If you’ve ever had to introduce a new way of running assembly lines or shipping materials, you know that even small organizations get stuck in familiar ways of doing business. That’s why, in established industries that have a track record of excellence with the status quo – think oil and gas, automotive, infrastructure, and pharmaceuticals – McKinsey & Company reports that digital transformation success rates fall between 4% and 11%. Often, the culprit is a lack of consensus and internal support.

Even if your technical roadmap is precisely laid out and builds up your digital capabilities toward a clearly defined goal – in other words, even if your digital consultant has fully delivered on their promise to create a solution that will work in the context of your business – it takes more than an abstract vision statement to achieve rocket-powered success.

If you actually want to get your digitalization off the ground ; to automate basic processes, reduce flaws and waste material, and communicate seamlessly with your purchasing clients, you need a whole company backing your digital vision.

This is why you should keep management consultants around. They’re skilled at understanding organisational roadblocks, defusing internal conflicts, and creating the consensus needed to get your digitization initiative out of the cubicle and onto the factory floor.

Your Best Bet for SME Digital Success

Combine industry expertise and consulting know-how! If on-the-ground digital experts provide pragmatic digitalization advice, and traditional consultants offer the consensus-building soft skills to ensure your initiative gets off the ground, it makes sense to seek both sides.

digitalization, How Do I Digitize My Small or Medium-Sized Business Cost-Effectively?

This means that if you run a medium-sized business, you may be better off turning to consulting options that focus specifically on digitalization. At least in our experience, we’ve found that companies have good words to say about partnering with independent digital consultants: after all, you’re sourcing top management consulting talent, while ensuring the people you hire have common sense and industry expertise.

If that’s the route you choose, we recommend evaluating your needs beforehand and clarifying which digital specializations your project is going to require. It’s always better to go in with a strategy – in a survey of various companies, The Boston Consulting Group discovered that 29% deployed technology without a clear understanding of whether it would create payoff in the long term.

We don’t let that happen to you. If you decide that you want to connect with our freelance network of independent digital professionals and consultants, we help you determine exactly the expertise you’re looking for, whether that’s blockchain, digital product management, or marketing ROI. That way, you’re on track for a successful, cost-effective digitalization initiative–with the help of a consultant who provides real value.