Analysis of the findings of a 2019-2020 survey conducted by emerging technology analyst firm, Telsyte.
Running a business during a pandemic
An unsurprising 81% of respondents to a Telsyte survey said they experienced issues, mainly having trouble delivering services and attracting customers because of COVID-19 restrictions. Cloud was the solution to this problem. From setting up an online store to shifting teams to a work-from-home model, businesses put their trust in cloud apps. And they've been deservedly rewarded.
Cloud-based technology is easy to use, has extensive functionality, and includes comprehensive support networks. But until the lockdowns hit our cities, SMEs hadn't realised exactly how much more accessible the cloud had become.
Concerns about cloud software being too complex and prone to security breaches are outdated. Over the last 10 years, we've seen massive growth in the software market, catapulted by global privacy regulations and customer demand for better products. SMEs now have access to advanced and innovative technology.
The pandemic emphasised the value of customer relationships
The umbrella term, "digital transformation," or DX, can mean different things to different people. For some businesses, DX is revamping their entire customer lifecycle management process. For others, it's moving from a spreadsheet to an online CRM. Regardless of where you are in your DX journey, the key is to prioritise your customers' experiences. In Telsyte's survey, 1 in 4 small business leaders said that understanding customers is an important part of their digital transformation, along with improving employee engagement and fostering clear communication.
As a result, a lot of businesses have expanded their technology use, with 2 in 5 SMEs saying they've invested in new systems to support a contactless working environment. They've also considered future disruptions and incorporated more digital tools for everyday operations. More than 2 in 5 SMEs now expect more of their customers to contact them through digital channels.
As businesses continue to adopt cloud technology, vendors need to consider SMEs' needs more than ever, or risk losing customers. As a customer, you have power over your interactions with your technology provider.
Emphasising this power, as Telsyte's technology analyst, Foad Fadaghi, observed, many Australian SMEs opt for a pay-as-you-go pricing system. Even here at Zoho, we see our customers starting off with monthly payments until they're comfortable enough to commit to an annual plan. We need to earn their trust before they choose to do business with us long term. To grow under today's uncertain circumstances as a small business, you don't need rigid contracts; you need a genuinely supportive cloud vendor that caters to your flexible needs. Your relationship with your cloud provider is evolving—for the better.
Building relationships with your cloud vendors
When remote work came into the picture, many businesses adopted the first cloud app they had access to. There wasn't a lot of reflection and evaluation. Now, as we move into the next phase in this pandemic, SMEs have time to consider and evaluate which cloud vendors deserve their continued business.
This transition to cloud technology is forged almost entirely through mutual trust. This is a good thing. Not only does this mean that vendors like us can build a strong relationship with you, our customers, but it also means you can hold cloud providers like us accountable. A good example of this is Austrian and French data protection authorities banning Google Analytics for breaching regulations. Small businesses today have a strong say in what vendors can and can't do—whether it's developing certain features or changing their modus operandi to meet data privacy and security regulations.
As Foad explained, vendors should be more transparent in their approach to privacy, which is often a deciding factor for growing businesses. When you're planning to invest in cloud technology, consider what matters to you most. Vendors know the value of prioritising customer well-being. Make sure you take advantage of that.