Beauty they say is in the eyes of the beholder, but the beauty of digitalization can be seen by everyone — businesses, their end-users, their potential end-users, their competitors, and even the sceptics.
Right now, seemingly every business-related article, panel discussion, and keynote address is talking about the importance of going digital, most especially in the view of the current pandemic.
Every time the picture of a post-COVID world is painted with words and inferences to the economy, the word digitalization (or digitization, often used interchangeably) is depicted as the knight that saves the day. They all make a fair point considering the world of good digitalization can do for any business with the current economic situation.
The global pandemic has exposed the need for digitalization globally. In truth, global digitalization should have been a topic of consideration way back when, however, COVID-19 and the behavior shift it forced upon us has created an avenue to have this conversation again, and this time more urgently.
In business: Digitalization — which is the adoption of digital technologies to transform a business model — aims to upgrade business processes for adaptability (e.g., touchless), better workflow, flexibility (e.g., remote work), productivity, high quality of service, and ultimately business satisfaction which will increase customer inflow and add to the bottom line of the business.
By going the route of digitalization, businesses can rethink their work methods and strategies to reap value using new technologies. Any business that isn’t thinking of making the switch right now is, as they say, ‘sitting ducks.
Achieving digital transformation through digitalization
Digital transformation is that fundamental change that comes from infusing digital technologies into all areas of a business. This change can differ from business to business, but one common factor is the end result of delivering value to customers.
Author Greg Verdino says “Digital transformation closes the gap between what digital customers already expect and what analogue businesses actually deliver.”
It is also important to note that digital transformation is not triggered by technology, instead, by the need to solve problems and meet customer’s needs in a different and optimized way.
Although digital transformation is broader than digitalization, the latter sets the ball rolling for the former. Where digitalization stops, digital transformation goes the extra mile as the outcome. This connection between the two becomes obvious when one looks at the enabling factor behind a successful digital transformation — Hence, digitalization is the fuel.
Digital transformation for some businesses can be a long-term feat, for others can be one mighty sweep that would mean turning their backs completely on legacy business activities and processes and imbibing a tech-driven approach to predominantly everything.
The effect of digital transformation will lead to an entirely new market, new strategies, new customer touchpoints, even new business realities. The business will experience a holistic and accelerated transformation of activities, competencies, processes, and models in a strategic and prioritized way.
Transitioning into a digital business through digitalization
When we talk about digital business, we refer to a business that is offering value to customers through digitized channels. Digitalization enables the shift to a digital business model by fueling digital transformation whose adoption will propel the development of a digital business strategy where everything that can be digitized is digitized.
When a business transfers their traditional structures and core operations to digital platforms or environment, they are able to create new value, new offerings, better customer experiences, high-quality performances and capabilities.
Digital businesses will continually adapt to emerging technologies and digital possibilities; rely on data to make decisions; leverage opportunities in a strategic way; create value in line with customer benefits using digital technologies… and the rest is uphill.
Enabling process automation through digitalization
Process Automation simply refers to the use of technology to carry out processes. It is pertinent for businesses to automate their processes to remain relevant and competitive.
Digital transformation is the driving force for process automation, which will lead to the adoption of a digital business model, all of which are driven by digitalization. For this reason, digitalization is also often used as a synonym for process automation.
Business process automation can be holistic or partial with some infusion of human effort at some strategic points in the workflow. When existing processes can be digitally mapped or automated they can be transformed into a single automated workflow which will serve better and offer more value-producing opportunities also saving time, effort, and money.
Digitalization and your business
The emergence of digital technologies changed the way businesses operate and the new normal is adding its own blend to the mix. Customers always wanted things faster, easier, and at their convenience — now, they want all of that but from a distance and without the need for physical contact or surface touch.
Digitalization which leads to digital transformation, process automation, and ultimately a digital business, will fundamentally change how your business operates and adapt your offerings to enable you to deliver high-end value to customers even as the world evolves.
Digitalization will empower your business to get comfortable with experimenting with emerging processes, digital services, and models — to unlearn and relearn. It will enable a radical cultural change in a positive direction.
Digitalization will make it necessary for your business to focus actions on the development and deployment of digital innovation strategies, to stay ahead of the competition and be successful in new market disruption.
Employees will not be left out of this change. Digitalization will prepare them for the challenges of the digital age, inform them to align their activities and play integral roles in the journey to digital change.