To thrive in the 21st century’s global economy, businesses need to evolve as digital entities. This means they need to embrace the top digital transformation trends so they can not only address the needs of existing customers but also attract new ones. Often that involves not only meeting, but exceeding consumers’ expectations with a top-notch online customer experience.

Digital transformation trends also involve internal operations, such as providing employees with the right cloud-based software in order to meet workplace requirements. After all, today’s employees expect the business tools they use at work to be as good as what they use in their daily life. Businesses that provide a first-class digital experience for their employees are better able to attract, hire and retain the best talent.

Of course, organizations that arm themselves with the newest digital transformation tools can benefit in other important ways too by streamlining business operations, reducing costs, and improving employee productivity.

While every business is at a different stage in its digital evolution, here are five technologies that companies – especially small and medium-sized firms – must embrace to ensure continued success:

Move to fully embrace cloud computing

Almost every business uses some cloud-based services, whether they are email, storage, or productivity tools like Office 365 or G Suite. However, businesses need to push more of their internal business operations to the cloud in order to become fully digital organizations.

Emphasize and focus on data and analytics

A focus on data analytics can boost the bottom line. As an example, a B2B company can apply data analytics to analyze customers and discover which ones always pay invoices promptly, are low maintenance, and are poised for continued growth. Once these high-value customers are identified, a company can concentrate on cultivating those relationships and on identifying key characteristics about these organizations in order to find and pursue similar businesses.

Upgrade to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs)

In today’s hyper-connected world, any company is only as good as its network. An SD-WAN solution combines edge devices, software and a management platform. This translates to better network visibility, simplified and centralized administration, locked-down security, and improved network performance. Another plus: business-critical applications can be prioritized to attain the best possible performance.

Invest in AI

Tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft are investing vast sums of money in AI each year, but other companies can harness the competitive advantages of AI with minimal spending. Thanks to AI-powered accounting software, for instance, a small to medium size business can take advantage of continuous accounting in which transactions are entered into its accounting system automatically in real time. Machine learning solutions analyze the data and identify patterns, enabling the software to make forecasts and automate routine activities such as adjusting payroll or routing customer invoices. Moreover, AI-powered accounting software frees accounting staff from routine tasks so they can devote their time to higher-value work.

Leverage the power of the Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT empowers businesses to solve problems in novel ways. Now, thanks to IoT, a regional trucking company can easily and efficiently track the position of its vehicles, as opposed to contacting its drivers to discover their location. Likewise, IoT-enabled remote monitoring lets the trucking company deploy its vehicles via more efficient routes, leveraging real-time data generated by connected traffic services and its own vehicles’ data. IoT solutions also aide in inventory management, working remotely, cloud security, and much more.

Next steps to success

It’s not enough to identify and implement transformative digital solutions for your organization. In order to make your transformation truly successful, your company must take the steps to fully understand the improvements and embrace the change across your leadership as well as employees so everyone is on the same page. Once you have accomplished that, you will be on the right track.

Is your business ready for digital transformation? Take our future readiness assessment and get a free report customized for your company. It will help you identify the next steps in your digital transformation.