Sustainability – whether social, environmental, economic, business or, in this case, operational – is not just a pretty word or a popular flag to be raised while the topic is on the agenda. It is a path with no turning back, and it is the way forward!
Companies in general, and SMEs in particular, need today, more than ever, to adapt to an ever-changing world in order to ensure the continuity of their business.
And operational sustainability, on which we will focus in this article, is nothing more than the ability of companies to generate more economic results, using less of the planet’s resources and respecting, at the same time, suppliers, partners and competitors, besides creating value to customers and empowering the company’s employees.
Mozambique currently has close to 100 thousand companies and of this total, 97% belong to the category of micro, small and medium enterprises, operating in different sectors.
Following a global trend, in Mozambique MSMEs play an important role in economic growth and poverty alleviation. This segment is responsible for contributing with 23.4% of the country’s GDP and for employing nearly 300 thousand formal workers (46% of the total), according to data from INE and sources such as the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
These are unequivocal data that prove how expressive the SME sector is in Mozambique, and a segment with great influence over the entire economy, not only because of the considerable amount of jobs it generates, but also because it is a segment of great competition.
Therefore, it is essential to ensure that this segment becomes sustainable, guiding it so that it can guarantee the continuity of its operations and generate the much expected economic and social development.
In Mozambique, MSMEs play an important role in economic growth and poverty alleviation. This segment is responsible for contributing with 23.4% of the country’s GDP and for employing nearly 300 thousand formal workers (46% of the total)
One of the paths towards the so desired sustainability of SMEs inevitably goes through the “digital transformation” (TD). This will ultimately ensure the operational capacity of these companies. How to do it? Through the optimization of operations, allowing, on one hand, efficiency gains and, on the other hand, financial gains.
In practice, the changes brought about by TD, which includes both the exploitation of digital technologies and the exploitation of innovation, should be applied to improve existing processes and communication in SMEs, including their sales and marketing efforts.
If we wanted, for example, to list some practical advantages of TD in SMEs we would present the following:
- Improved information for decision making;
- Automation of routine tasks;
- Improvement of the internal control of operations;
- Improvement of customer service;
- Increased ability to find problems earlier;
- Improvement of the production process;
- Increased productivity and competitiveness.
As we can see, in general, TD leads SMEs to a greater effectiveness of existing value chains, and also offers opportunities to create new value.
Admittedly, this may lead to a new challenge: that of changing and/or replacing, if necessary, the core business of these companies. After all, TD implies, in essence, the evolution or creation of a new business model.
These companies may expand or shrink, since in this digital era the traditional frontiers also suffer changes, contributing to the evolution of the competitive scenario, with the emergence, for example, of new competitors, either from adjacent industries or even different ones.
However, regardless of the challenges that may arise (and we would say that the biggest may be the ability of these companies to break their own paradigms), the path to operational sustainability of SMEs is undoubtedly associated with the ability of this segment to adapt to this tool – digital transformation – to evolve its business model to a more competitive one, ensuring the three pillars of TD: customer experience, transformation of business models and operational processes.
This may be a medium, long-term and probably costly process, but it is an investment that has written “positive impact” and is wo