The importance of digital transformation for SMEs

Digital transformation has become a key issue for businesses of all sizes, but its relevance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cannot be overstated. In a world driven by technological advancements, the ability to adapt to digital trends is not just a way to increase efficiency, but a necessity for survival and growth in an increasingly competitive market.

The landscape of digital innovation is rapidly evolving, with new technologies constantly emerging that have the potential to fundamentally change the way businesses operate. From cloud computing to big data to artificial intelligence (AI), each of these technologies offers SMEs the opportunity to optimize their business processes, tap into new markets and create unique customer experiences. However, the real challenge lies not just in adopting these technologies, but in integrating and using them as part of a holistic digital strategy that focuses on the company and its customers.

In today's digital era, the customer is more powerful and demanding than ever before. Access to information, the variety of options available and the ease of switching providers have dramatically increased customer expectations for personalization, convenience and speed. For SMEs, this means that the success of their digital transformation is not solely defined by the optimization of internal processes. Rather, the focus must be on creating value for the customer by using digital technologies to understand, improve and personalize the customer journey. This requires a deep understanding of how digital solutions can enhance and enrich the customer experience, which goes far beyond blunt process optimization.

Table of contents

The basics of digital transformation
Customer benefit vs. internal process optimization
Customer centricity as the core of the digital strategy
Optimization of business processes
Employees in the focus of digital transformation
Implementing the digital transformation
Impulse questions for your own implementation
Conclusion: the future is digital

The basics of digital transformation

Digital transformation is a comprehensive process that enables companies to bring about fundamental changes in business models, corporate culture and customer interactions through the use of digital technologies. For SMEs, this process represents both a challenge and an opportunity to successfully position and differentiate themselves in the digital landscape.

Small and medium-sized companies are faced with the task of selecting the digitization options that best suit their specific needs and goals from a wide range of options. These range from the introduction of simple productivity tools to the implementation of complex systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The decision for certain technologies should always be made with a view to improving the customer experience and increasing internal efficiency. It is crucial to choose solutions that are scalable and can grow as the company grows.

The choice of technology is a critical step in digital transformation and should be based on a thorough analysis of current and future business needs. It is important to identify technologies that not only solve current problems but are also capable of opening up new business opportunities. SMEs should also seek external expertise to better assess the potential and risks of different technologies. Such a decision requires a deep understanding of how digital tools can increase efficiency, improve customer loyalty and ultimately contribute to the company's success.

A crucial step before introducing new technologies is to assess the company's digital maturity. This includes a comprehensive inventory of the existing digital infrastructure, employees' skills and existing business processes. Such an assessment helps to understand where the company stands in its digital development and which areas should be prioritized for improvement. It's not just about introducing technology for technology's sake, but ensuring that digital initiatives are closely linked to business goals and customer needs. Identifying digitization needs is therefore a tailored process that enables SMEs to make targeted investments in technologies that create real added value.

The challenge: customer benefit vs. internal process optimization

Digital transformation in SMEs often faces a central challenge: the balance between increasing internal operational efficiency and creating real added value for the customer. While the optimization of internal processes through digital technologies promises short-term cost savings and efficiency gains, the key to long-term success and differentiation in the market lies in focusing on customer benefits.

Does your customer ?care?

digital travel expense report

digital time recording

Knowledge database


Automated payroll accounting

digital personnel management

Industry 4.0

Cloud computing

Paperless office

Home office

The limits of increasing operational efficiency

Operational efficiency is undoubtedly important for the survival and growth of a company. The automation of tasks and the digitalization of internal processes can lead to significant cost savings. However, this approach reaches its limits when it comes to strengthening the relationship with the customer and sustainably increasing the value of the company. Without direct added value for the customer, such initiatives can change the company in a way that has little to no impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

From process optimization to customer benefit optimization

The transition from process optimization to customer value optimization requires a paradigm shift in the way companies think about digital transformation. It is not about making existing processes more efficient, but about how digital technologies can be used to improve the customer experience, create personalized offers and ultimately provide tangible added value for the customer. This approach requires companies to put their customers and their needs at the center of all considerations and to see digital solutions as a means of increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The importance of the customer journey in the digitalization process

The customer journey - the totality of all experiences that a customer has with a company - plays a crucial role in the digitalization process. Careful analysis and optimization of the customer journey using digital technologies enables companies to identify touchpoints where customer benefits can be maximized through personalized interactions and offers. This requires a deep understanding of customer needs and the ways in which these needs can be met. By focusing digital initiatives on enriching and personalizing the customer journey, companies can build a closer bond with their customers and position themselves for success in a competitive market environment.

do it like this MORGEN:

Customer centricity as the core of the digital strategy - customer-centric digitalization

A consistent focus on the customer is at the heart of a successful digital strategy. In the age of digitalization, the ability to respond to the needs and expectations of customers is crucial to a company's success. Customer centricity means putting the customer and their benefits at the heart of all digital initiatives. This philosophy requires a rethink in the way technology is implemented and used to build and maintain real connections with customers.

Increasing customer satisfaction and customer loyalty through digitalization

Digital technologies offer countless opportunities to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. By using data analysis and AI, companies can gain precise insights into the behavior and preferences of their customers. This information makes it possible to improve the customer experience in a targeted manner and offer customized solutions. For example, by analysing customer interactions and feedback, processes can be optimized and products or services can be better tailored to customer needs. This not only leads to greater satisfaction, but also to stronger customer loyalty, as customers feel understood and valued.

Analyze and improve personalized offers and customer experience

Personalization is a key element of customer centricity. Digital technologies enable companies to create individual customer profiles and personalize offers that are precisely tailored to the needs and wishes of each individual customer. By using CRM systems and advanced analytics tools, companies can identify patterns in customer behaviour and make predictions to create personalized experiences across different channels. Continuously analyzing the customer experience provides valuable insights that can be used to further improve offerings and increase customer satisfaction.

Digital channels for improved customer service

The use of digital channels plays a crucial role in improving customer service. Modern customers expect fast, straightforward access to information and support, regardless of their channel of choice. By implementing omnichannel strategies, companies can ensure a consistent and seamless customer experience across all digital and physical touchpoints. Chatbots, social media, apps and self-service portals are examples of digital tools that can improve customer service. Not only do they provide an efficient solution to frequently asked questions and concerns, but they also collect valuable data about customer preferences and behaviour that can be used to further optimize the customer experience.

Do it like MORGEN!

The customer-centric digital strategy MORGEN pursued, starts right here: It aims to align digitalization along the entire customer journey and put it at the service of the customer experience. This approach not only makes internal processes more efficient, but also creates solutions that offer direct added value for the customer and thus enable faster amortization. This approach enables SMEs to bring about real change that not only leads to a digital transformation of the company, but also sustainably improves the business model and customer interaction.

Can you still be helped?

You are....

Medium-sized company with own production
and offer highly specialized products and services

and fight with....

the implementation of digitization away from the production lines
increasing price pressure and margin erosion
the dependence on multi-level distribution (B2B)
Solve problems

Optimization of business processes

In the digital era, the continuous optimization of business processes is a decisive factor for efficiency, competitiveness and growth. Digital technologies offer a wide range of opportunities to improve processes, reduce costs and ensure security and compliance at the same time. The strategic implementation of these technologies enables companies not only to become more efficient internally, but also to increase customer satisfaction through improved services.

Increased efficiency in production and operation

Digital solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies are revolutionizing production and operations in companies. IoT devices enable precise monitoring and control of production processes in real time, leading to a significant increase in efficiency. AI can be used to predict maintenance needs, reducing downtime and extending the service life of machines. Automation technologies, in turn, can take over repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing employees to focus on more complex and value-adding activities. These digital tools make a significant contribution to increasing operational efficiency and reducing production costs.

Cost reduction and process optimization through digital tools

The digital transformation offers extensive opportunities to reduce costs and optimize processes. Cloud computing solutions, for example, enable a flexible and scalable IT infrastructure that adapts to the needs of the company and thus reduces hardware and maintenance costs. Digital platforms for project management improve collaboration and communication within teams and between departments, resulting in more efficient project management. In addition, data-driven analyses provide a deep insight into business processes, allowing inefficiencies to be identified and optimized in a targeted manner. These digital tools are essential for reducing costs, streamlining processes and improving the company's overall performance.

Security aspects and compliance in the digital transformation

The digital transformation not only brings opportunities, but also challenges, particularly in the area of security and compliance. The increasing digitalization and networking of processes increase vulnerability to cyberattacks and data leaks. It is therefore crucial to invest in robust security systems and data protection measures. This includes not only implementing technologies such as encryption and firewalls, but also training employees on cybersecurity and data protection regulations. In addition, companies need to ensure that their digital solutions are in line with local and international compliance regulations. A proactive approach to security and compliance is essential to maintain the trust of customers and partners and protect the company from legal and financial risks.

Employees in the focus of digital transformation

The digital transformation not only affects technological changes, but also the people who work within this new digital landscape. The success of this transformation depends largely on how well employees are involved in the process, how their skills are expanded and how their feedback is integrated into the design of the company's digital future.

Change management and employee participation

Change management is a critical component of digital transformation, ensuring that employees are not only informed and prepared, but also actively involved in the transformation process. An open communication culture that provides information about the goals and benefits of digital change at an early stage helps to reduce fears and promote acceptance. Employee participation also means giving employees the opportunity to contribute their ideas and concerns. This not only promotes engagement, but can also provide valuable insights that make the transformation more effective and efficient. Involving employees in decision-making processes and providing platforms for feedback and discussion are essential elements in creating an inclusive and employee-centric digital culture.

Disney illustrates change management without employee involvement - via giphy

Training and further education for digital skills

The rapid development of digital technologies requires continuous training of employees to ensure that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate effectively in a digitalized work environment. Investment in training and development programs is crucial to strengthen digital literacy across the organization. This includes not only technical skills, but also an understanding of digital ways of working and collaboration tools. Customized learning opportunities tailored to the specific needs and roles of employees can accelerate the learning curve and increase the willingness to adopt new technologies.

Digitally optimize feedback systems and employee management

Digital tools and platforms offer new opportunities to optimize feedback systems and employee management. Regular, digital feedback mechanisms enable timely and constructive feedback that promotes employee satisfaction as well as personal and professional development. Digital leadership also means leading by example, using digital tools effectively and promoting a culture of openness and lifelong learning. The use of digital dashboards and performance management systems can help to clearly define goals, make progress transparent and visibly recognize success. By creating an environment where feedback is valued and digital leadership is encouraged, organizations can build a motivated, engaged and sustainable workforce.

Implementing the digital transformation

Implementing digital transformation is a comprehensive process that requires strategic planning, clear communication and ongoing commitment. To make this transition successful, it is important to follow best practices, be inspired by success stories and seek professional advice and support where necessary.

Best practices for the implementation of digitization projects

A key element for the success of digitalization projects is the development of a clear digital strategy that is in line with the business objectives and corporate culture. Best practice includes involving all stakeholders at an early stage and ensuring broad support within the company. An iterative approach that enables rapid cycles of planning, implementation, evaluation and adaptation can help companies respond flexibly to challenges and learn continuously. It is also crucial to rely on a solid data infrastructure and to prioritize data security and data protection from the outset. Finally, fostering an open and learning corporate culture that supports innovation and digital experimentation is invaluable.

Success stories of digitally transformed companies

Success stories of companies that have successfully mastered their digital transformation serve as a valuable source of inspiration and learning opportunity. These companies have managed to increase their productivity, open up new markets or fundamentally improve the customer experience through the use of digital technologies. Often, these success stories are characterized by strong leadership that sets a clear vision for the company's digital future, as well as the ability to inspire employees at all levels to embrace this vision and provide them with the necessary tools and training to make it a reality.

Advice and support for digital transformation

Given the complexity of digital transformation, seeking external advice and support can be crucial to avoid common pitfalls and maximize the chances of success. Digital transformation experts can not only help with strategy development and technology implementation, but also provide valuable industry insights and best practices. In addition, they can help companies manage the necessary changes in corporate culture and workflows. The right advice can help accelerate the digital journey, minimize the risks and ensure that the company's digital initiatives are built on a solid foundation.

Impulse questions: Is your digitalization customer-centric?

Start the check of your digitalization strategy with these eight essential key questions. They will help you evaluate whether your digital initiatives are truly aligned with your customers' needs. Take the time to answer these questions honestly to ensure that your digitalization efforts are not only efficient, but also effective and customer-centric.

Book a sparring appointment now

Conclusion: The future is digital - opportunities for SMEs

The digital transformation offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) an unprecedented opportunity to renew their business models, strengthen their market position and embark on new growth paths. Adapting to the digital era is no longer an option, but a necessity to stay ahead of the competition. The journey there requires strategic thinking, commitment and a willingness to rethink existing processes.

Summary of the key aspects

Digital transformation involves more than just the introduction of new technologies; it concerns the way in which companies interact with their customers, how they design internal processes and how they involve their employees in these changes. A successful transformation requires a customer-centric strategy that focuses on added value for the customer. The optimization of business processes through digital solutions not only leads to increased efficiency and cost reduction, but also to improved security standards. In addition, the involvement and training of employees is a decisive factor in strengthening digital skills within the company and promoting a culture of innovation. Implementing this transformation requires well thought-out change management, clear communication and, if necessary, support from external experts.

Outlook and next steps for SMEs

For SMEs that want to successfully shape the digital transformation, the next step begins with the development of a clear digital strategy based on a thorough analysis of the company's current situation and goals. This strategy should be flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing technological landscapes and market requirements. Prioritizing projects that offer direct added value for customers, optimizing the customer experience and strengthening the digital skills of the workforce are crucial measures. SMEs should continuously look for innovative solutions that enable them to differentiate themselves from competitors and drive sustainable growth.

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey. It requires a willingness to experiment, learn from mistakes and adapt to new circumstances. With the right approach, SMEs can not only successfully master the digital future, but also act as pioneers in their industry and take full advantage of the many opportunities offered by digitalization.

Jonas Reuter
Jonas Reuter
Managing Director, Partner

We ask the right questions

Our workshop card set includes a selection of around 50 cards with impulse questions on the topics of sustainability, digitalization, values and customer centricity, which you can use to work on new business models. You can find more impulse questions in our digitalization tool MORGEN People.

Request card set free of charge


About us:

MORGEN is a specialized management consultancy that focuses on the development of new business models for medium-sized companies. In particular, it supports owner-managed companies in their future-proof transformation. Knowledge transfer is at the heart of its consulting activities, which is why the MORGEN Blog regularly publishes articles on key topics such as digitalization, transformation, customer centricity and sustainability.

Logo positiv
Gradient Helper