Even though parts of the northern hemisphere are still covered in snow and apparently missed the memo noting the official arrival of spring, the season of renewal arrived last week. From secular and scientific to pagan and religious celebrations and observations, there are a plethora of words and phrases that highlight the equinox.
Personally, my favorite word for spring is renaissance.
Connecting this season with the concept of renaissance is particularly powerful for small-to medium-size businesses (SMBs). In so many ways, SMBs in all industries deliver the next generation of ideas and innovations for powering local and global economies forward. Statistics greatly vary, but overall SMBs create more opportunities for employment, growth and products than large enterprise firms collectively.
In fact, SMBs are in many cases leading industry renaissances in places and fields where large firms have abandoned hope or presence, or often are simply unable to deliver for a myriad of reasons.
Which reinforces my association of the word renaissance with this season. The most common use of the word is associated with last part of the Middle Ages that bridged Europe to the Age of Enlightenment. Perhaps by sheer coincidence, the accounting structure of debits and credits was documented near the middle of this historical period. Though the historical origins of double accounting with debits and credits are uncertain, in 1494 a religious Franciscan friar in Venice – the “Father of Accounting” Luca Pacioli – described and published the system used today as the operational basis for finance management.
Yet, until finance systems were embedded into modern computing systems at the end of the last century, accounting was essentially trapped into an over 500-year-old paradigm of financial values ensconced across columnar paper. Early computing systems did little more than deliver digital versions of the paper-based tabular sheets used by finance professionals for centuries. The old on-premises systems did nothing more than cement the past into an electronic foundation.
Today we are experiencing a remarkable enterprise renaissance for every aspect of every modern business operation. From finance and human resources to supply chains and customer experiences, no task is immune from this spring-like renaissance infused with cloud solutions and emerging technologies.
This renaissance embodies the shift from tactical tasks to strategic activities. For example, instead of SMBs consuming budgets on maintaining, updating, and protecting on-premises systems, with cloud solutions the focus shifts almost immediately to business planning, market expansion and customer innovation. Another typical scenario involves reporting. Rather than trying to extract data from the business, well-designed cloud systems deliver – in real-time with embedded reports in applications – enterprise data in stunning graphical and detailed tabular displays. No more time and money lost designing, building, testing and deploying reports.
So today, while accounting still uses debits and credits, cloud solutions are delivering configurable dashboards, revolutionary multi-dimensional real-time reporting, and structural flexibility unimaginable less than ten years ago. The metaphorical step function of this change is figuratively bigger than a common step; it is leap equivalent to a rocket launch. Every SMB can harness this historical and profound transformation.
SMBs are always best positioned to embrace this digital renaissance. Like other springtime metaphors including baby birds breaking out of their eggs or trees sprouting new green leaves from long dormant winter buds, for SMBs spring can deliver fresh approaches to meet their challenges and capture opportunities.
This springtime metaphor goes well beyond finance and other core ERP components including procurement, risk, and project portfolio management. There are many fresh opportunities across human resources (HCM), supply chains (SCM), enterprise performance management (EPM) and customer experience (CX) solutions for marketing, sales and services.
In addition, consider all the new and emerging technologies now becoming commercial viable. With artificial intelligence, blockchains, machine learning, augmented and virtual realities, and chatbots now increasing interwoven across the digital fabrics that encompass our personal and professional lives, it is hard to bet anymore against their importance. Just like two years ago when companies asked, “what is the cloud?” and now only ponder “how do I get to the cloud?”, SMBs are similarly skipping the “why” question and going straight to “how do I leverage emerging technologies?”
Which brings me back to “renaissance”.
When reading history, I have always imagined how exciting the Renaissance period must have been when viewed from the ending years of the Middle Ages. The exploding inventory of art, scientific discovery, exploration, and overall knowledge alone was remarkable as the earlier Dark Ages were overtaken. But I have always thought the real excitement would have involved discussions about potential opportunities.
Which reinforces my connection of the word renaissance with this season of birth and hope. While boundaries and challenges will always exist, SMBs are learning how these are diminished with cloud solutions and emerging technologies. The underlying theme of better days ahead is universal.
The best part is, with so many modern solutions arriving at the door stoops of SMBs, every organization can pick their own path to a spring-like renaissance. A renaissance bristling with enthusiastic energies and business opportunities.
Simply stated, every SMB this spring can define their tomorrow, today.