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Why digital transformation is crucial for small-business success — now more than ever

Salesforce's May 17 Growth Camp Philadelphia event is designed to help companies move from legacy systems to the latest technologies.

A view of Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo by Flickr user Christopher Michel, used under a Creative Commons license)

This article was sponsored by Salesforce and was reviewed before publication.

On Thursday, May 17, Salesforce will hold its first-ever Growth Camp Philadelphia event at 1776 in University City. This free event is aimed at empowering small and medium businesses to better utilize digital technologies, and will host workshops, networking and speakers specifically geared towards sharing best practices for successful digital transformation.

Register for Growth Camp Philadelphia today to learn how key tactics in marketing, sales and customer service can transform your small business, and hear more from the industry experts featured below in their panel discussion, “Accelerating Growth with Digital Transformation.”


From old to new

In 1956, entrepreneur Walter B. Gallagher founded Gallagher Fluid Seals from the garage of his Montgomery County home. The fluid seal distribution business grew fast as it gained large accounts like Philadelphia Electric and Rohm & Haas, strengthening its position in a bustling industrial marketplace. By the 1970s, Gallagher and his small team of committed employees found themselves managing a million-dollar company.

Chris Gallagher waxes nostalgic when talking about his grandfather: “He had a very dynamic personality, and expected a lot of the people who worked for him,” said the current CEO of Gallagher Fluid Seals. “As the company grew, he faced the realization that he could only do so much as one person and had to become more reliant on a team around him,” said Gallagher, “That’s not a transition every entrepreneur can make. Fortunately for him, and the organization, he was able to make it.”

When Chris Gallagher took the reigns in 2017, the company faced another crossroads. He realized outdated systems were negatively affecting accountability and inhibiting the sales team from bringing in new leads. Gallagher decided the company needed to undergo a digital transformation, beginning with the implementation of Salesforce. That decision led to a “titanic culture shift” within the company. Gallagher noted, “I know that it’s my job to continue to position this company for the future.”

“We launched Salesforce because we had a stalled sales funnel,” Gallagher said. “Historically we were measuring results, now we can measure the impact that individuals and teams have on those results,” shared Gallagher. “The flexibility and customization opportunities of more modern tools and systems allows us to constantly calibrate that connection between processes and outcomes.”

Making the leap to digital — risk vs. reward

Many small to medium sized businesses (SMB) are playing “catch up” with digital technologies in response to growing customer and marketplace demand. According to a 2017 study by SMB Group, over 80 percent of small to medium businesses surveyed were either planning or implementing new technologies to improve or replace existing systems. Study responses showed that smaller and older business was, the less likely it was to be engaging in digital transformation activities.

For many small, older businesses, one problem in changing over to digital technologies is simply the lack of available people, skills and resources — such as a dedicated IT department. Budget constraints and worries over how to integrate new systems often stall these businesses in making progress with digital transformation.

But results from the SMB Group study show that investment in digital technologies offers rewards that outweigh the risk: small businesses that invested in digital tools and solutions were much more likely to be forecasting increases in revenue.

“You’ve got to figure out a way that you can deliver a great customer experience,” said Laurie McCabe, cofounder and partner of SMB Group, “and on the backend, make sure you’re operating efficiently, so you can maximize your profit and save yourself a lot of time and aggravation.”

In fact, choosing not to invest in newer technology may leave companies vulnerable to the biggest risk of all — irrelevance.

“Even though you’re a small business, customers expect that you’ll make it easy for them to learn about what you do, interact with you, purchase your products and get the services they need,” added McCabe. “The bottom line is, if you’re not thinking about investing in digital technology initiatives then you face the risk of being put out of business.”

Small business–specific solutions

“Companies are trying to address small business needs by creating solutions geared specifically towards them,” said SMB’s McCabe. More and more digital solution and product companies are aligning themselves to serve small businesses who are looking to adopt new technologies, but may not have the existing resources to do it.

Salesforce offers products and services for intuitive, online customer engagement and relationship management. “Salesforce has spent a lot of time trying to really understand what is going to be something that [small businesses] can start using and getting value from really quickly,” said McCabe.

Salesforce offers its Growth Camp event as another service to the small business community. The free event will include:

  • Expert speakers sharing knowledge and advice on marketing, sales and service
  • Hands-on workshops on how to attract new customers and nurture relationships
  • Panels featuring some of Philadelphia’s brightest business minds
  • Networking with dozens of Philadelphia’s top entrepreneurs

Another digital-solutions example, Guru, offers a knowledge management solution for customer-facing staff to improve customer service while also saving time. “Creating an amazing customer experience requires being at the forefront of digital transformation. If you remain stuck in the past, even with a great product you will create unnecessary friction for your customers that your competitors have already figured out.” said Rick Nucci, CEO and cofounder of Guru, and a speaker at the upcoming Growth Camp event.

Resources like these exist to help small businesses embark on their digital transformation journey, a journey that Gallagher Fluid Seals is reaping big results from: “We’ve seen growth in the 10 to 15-percent range. We’ve seen account development increase,” said Gallagher. “We’ve seen basically every metric that we’ve measured improve over the two to three years we’ve been running the system.”

Companies: Salesforce / Guru Technologies

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