IBM Study Shows SMBs Need to Focus on Digital Strategy

Kim Mays
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A recently released study by IBM that involved more than 4,000 C-suite leaders from 70 countries, including hundreds of midmarket leaders, gave interesting insight into digital strategies employed by various companies. Among the results are some compelling facts about how small to midsize businesses (SMBs) view their digital influence on their customers.

Of those SMBs who responded, 43 percent believe their company has an integrated physical and digital strategy already in place. The study identified that digitization of information is changing the way businesses relate with customers:

The emergence of social, mobile and digital networks has played a major part in democratizing the relationship between organizations and their customers. Competitors are crossing into new industries, increasing the pressure on all to innovate. And the intersection of digital and physical experience is fast becoming the leading edge of innovation.

SMB leaders (65 percent) identified “lack of a cohesive social media plan” as a huge barrier to achieving more success in the digital arena.

According to the study, all C-suite leaders want to better engage customers via digital channels, and SMBs are working to do just that. Around 45 percent of midmarket leaders reported plans to “increase use of digital channels… to engage with customers.” SMB leaders see that collaboration both internally and externally with customers should help develop a more involved, engaging customer experience, which should help businesses learn and innovate from customer input.

IBM reports that a deeper relationship with customers is key to future business success:

Relationships must be fully reciprocal and once that relationship is established, companies of all sizes need to be prepared to act based on the influence of the customer. In this way, organizations are shifting from being merely customer-centric to becoming customer-activated.

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