What Can CIOs Learn from Small Businesses when It Comes to Creating Value?
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What Can CIOs Learn from Small Businesses when It Comes to Creating Value?

Ann Monroe, VP-Worldwide Marketing, FileMaker, Inc., an Apple subsidiary

Digital transformation promises greater efficiency, cost savings and innovation, but it requires significant changes in back-end technologies, legacy IT systems, IT culture, skills and capabilities. In its recent 2016-2017 Global CIO Survey, Deloitte noted that CIOs are in the best position of anyone in the C-suite to lead the digitization effort. The firm surveyed or interviewed more than 1,200 global CIOs to arrive at this conclusion.

Far from crunching data in a back room, CIOs share an equal responsibility with other executives to anticipate the needs of the business. However, they face an uphill battle, as more than a quarter (28 percent) ranked their IT organizations as below average in digital skill sets. And while 78 percent of CIOs said that strategic alignment of IT activities with business strategy was critical to their success, only five percent said it was a leading-class capability.

Aligning People, Process and Technology

Smaller organizations that lack a C-suite must bootstrap value creation for their businesses with technology. Small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners have their boots on the ground every day, so they regularly encounter the need to align people, process and technology. SMB owners often start with a simple challenge and, over time, they change their business processes to create greater efficiency, productivity and customer experiences. This requires flexible technology tools to get the best outcomes.

  ​A low-code or no-code solution gives problem solvers in a small business or in a department within an enterprise the opportunity to be creative 

One of these tools that SMB owners have made great use of is a custom app platform. A low-code or no-code solution gives problem solvers in a small business or in a department within an enterprise the opportunity to be creative – in short, to invent their own future. These are the very individuals best suited to innovate and lead digital transformation. SMB owners use custom app platforms to deliver a better experience for their customers and employees every day. CIOs who foster innovation and digital transformation are turning to these same friendly and flexible platforms.

Because they know the daily workings of their businesses so intimately, SMB owners are able to create value by creating custom apps that apply their unique knowledge and experience to recurring problems or inefficiencies. Below are examples of businesses that have done just that.

The Digital Growth Factor

Running an operation that contracts with convenience stores, retail stores and grocery store chains to pick up and recycle thousands of pounds of unwanted cardboard every week, the Jones Companies is a national market leader in recycling. The company digitally transformed route scheduling and customer lists with an iPad-based mobile custom app that utterly revolutionized their business. The visually appealing app replaced paper forms and integrated with the company’s existing accounting software. Meanwhile, as drivers on their routes enter information into the iPad app, dashboards at the office track the location and cargo of each truck. The integration between the office and the field for scheduling, and being able to have statistical data in real time, has enabled the company to grow.

A Healthy Technology Combination

Here’s one nutritional supplements company that understands the value of mobile.

Laboratoires Activa creates products with 100 percent natural active ingredients, made from plants, minerals and sequenced amino acids. The company’s 15 salespeople use MobiPharma Pro, an app specifically designed to meet Laboratoires Activa’s needs, on their iPad devices during their sales trips to pharmacies, giving them constant access to client data (contact information, locations, schedules), which they can edit. They can also access visit histories and enter and check orders.

Laboratoires Activa uses a combination of a computer-based back-office module with a mobile module accessible from iPad devices to gain flexibility and mobility. The app also has a variety of reporting and database tools that make analyzing and managing sales activities easy, while also saving time thanks to an intuitive, user-friendly interface. After more than a year, the Laboratoires Activa sales teams have been managing all of their work in the field from their iPad devices. They’ve seen improved efficiency and ease of communication; orders can be taken more quickly and deliveries are faster and more reliable.

Innovating for Tomorrow

Businesses, whether large or small, must continue to innovate to succeed. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to cost a fortune or require experts. By using a custom app platform, they can solve today’s operational challenges and position their companies for future success.

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