Mobility, BYOD and the massive adoption of cloud-based services have dramatically transformed both culture and business. Organizations continue to look for ways to leverage mobile for business gains, though this is easier said than done. Defining real needs and collaborating to find practical solutions will help avoid false starts. Understanding who in the organization is best positioned to lead this charge is also important.

To explore this issue, Deloitte recently released its 2016-2017 Global CIO Survey. The firm surveyed or interviewed 1,217 global CIOs, a process that helped shed light on a CIO’s ability to create value for the business. The survey noted that this digital shift requires large transformations in back-end technologies, legacy IT systems, IT culture, skills and capabilities – and that CIOs are better positioned than any other occupant of the C-suite to drive digital across the entire organization.

However, CIOs face an uphill battle when it comes to being able to facilitate change, as more than a quarter (28 percent) ranked their IT organizations as below average in digital skill sets. And while 78 percent of CIOs said that strategic alignment of IT activities with business strategy was critical to their success, only five percent said it was a leading-class capability.

Small and medium-sized business owners face a similar challenge, but they are finding ways to create value for their businesses with technology. SMB owners have their boots on the ground every day, so they regularly encounter the need to align people, process and technology. SMB owners often start with a simple challenge and, over time, they change their business processes to create greater efficiency, productivity and customer experiences. This requires flexible technology tools to get the best outcomes.

One such flexible technology tool is a custom app platform. A low-code or no-code solution gives problem solvers in a small business or in a department within an enterprise the opportunity to be creative – in short, to invent their own future. These are the very individuals best suited to innovate and lead digital transformation. SMB owners use custom app platforms to deliver a better experience for their customers and employees every day. CIOs who foster innovation and digital transformation are turning to these same friendly and flexible platforms.

By creating custom apps that apply their unique knowledge and experience to recurring problems or inefficiencies, SMB owners create value for their businesses. Below are examples of businesses that have done just that.

Recycling Efficiencies

A market-leading recycling business based in Mississippi, The Jones Company, contracts with convenience stores, retail stores and grocery store chains to pick up and recycle thousands of pounds of unwanted cardboard every week. The company digitally transformed route scheduling and customer lists with an iPad-based mobile custom app that utterly revolutionized their business. The visually appealing app replaced paper forms and integrated with the company’s existing accounting software. Meanwhile, as drivers on their routes enter information into the iPad app, dashboards at the office track the location and cargo of each truck. The integration between the office and the field for scheduling, and being able to have statistical data in real time, has enabled the company to grow.

Healthy Communication

Nutritional supplement company Laboratoires Activa creates next-generation products with 100 percent natural active ingredients, made from plants, minerals and sequenced amino acids, in order to restore a day-to-day balance and regulate functional disorders. The company’s 15 salespeople use MobiPharma Pro, an app specifically designed to meet Laboratoires Activa’s needs, on their iPad devices during their sales trips to pharmacies, giving them constant access to client data (contact information, locations, schedules), which they can edit. They can also access visit histories and enter and check orders.

By creating a mobile module accessible from iPad devices that can interface with the computer-based back-office module, Laboratoires Activa gains the flexibility and mobility it needs. The app also has a variety of reporting and database tools that make analyzing and managing sales activities easy, while also saving time thanks to an intuitive, user-friendly interface. After more than a year, the Laboratoires Activa sales teams have been managing all of their work in the field from their iPad devices. They’ve seen improved efficiency and ease of communication; orders can be taken more quickly and deliveries are faster and more reliable.

Creating Mobile Transformation

The scope of change needed to keep pace with digital transformation requires skills and capabilities that are in short supply. It’s difficult for CIOs to assemble the IT team needed, and much more so for SMB owners. Fortunately, technology comes to the rescue, in this case with custom apps that can address real business needs. In doing so, SMBs realize greater efficiencies, better customer service and an increased potential for growth.