Buzzwords. You love em,’ you hate em,’ but regardless, you use them every day. You catch yourself saying things like synergize, in the wheelhouse, or scaling up and you may roll your eyes, but those phrases are just so darn useful in the workplace. But what about digitization? How does digitization of business relate to trends in digital transformation?
What Is Digitization of Business?
These terms have been making appearances on the most popular business and tech blogs for years, but many still struggle to define them. Which brings us to the question: what in the world is digitization? According to Business Dictionary, digitization is the conversion of analog information to digital form with suitable electronic devices so that information can be processed, stored, and transmitted through digital circuits, equipment, and networks.
Put simply, digitization is converting information into a digital format, which is by no means a new concept. Digitization of business leads towards a more digital workplace. Often, leaders mistake this as meaning simply an absence of paper, but it can mean so much more. For some organizations, it can mean a different style of work, such as accessing information from mobile devices in the field and collaborating with remote workers in new ways. These process changes require more than just replacing paper documents with digital ones.
What Is Digital Transformation?
And then what about digital transformation? Digitization and digital transformation often get used interchangeably, but a new difference in the way these terms are used has started to emerge. By way of explanation, think about how your expectations as a consumer have changed.
Although you may not go about your day actively labeling every encounter this way, you constantly experience the effects of digital transformation.
When you purchase a new phone and that phone immediately contains all your contacts and photos, that’s digitization. When you call your bank or hospital and your transaction history or medical records are readily available, that’s digitization. When Amazon Prime saves all of your card number and shipping addresses so that you can order anything that you need and see it on your doorstep in two days, that’s digitization.
The key here is that digital transformation requires a fundamental shift in thinking, and opens up the possibility for disruption. Simply bolting on technology to an existing process will only get you so far.
Knowledge management systems are at the forefront of helping companies and organizations transform their manual and offline processes (physical documents, file cabinets, email chains, and word of mouth) into tech-supported systems. For example, let’s say your marketing team created a new case study. This case study will be helpful to each member of the sales and client success teams. When your company has a knowledge management system in place, that document needs to be shared only once, in a central location, where everyone who needs it can access it.
When your company lacks a knowledge management system, the owner of that case study may answer dozens of emails requesting the same document.
When you pair a traditional knowledge management system with one that enables mobile access and a new form of collaboration between teams, now you’re are enabling a digital workplace.
Long story short, digitization of business means anything that can be digital will be digital. And whether you’re looking to increase internal productivity, streamline training and onboarding, document processes and protocol to improve knowledge transfer, or all of the above, the right tools exist to ensure your organization is using technology in all the right ways, no matter what word you use to describe it.