Digital Transformation is a term that was coined decades ago and yet there is still a pervasive misunderstanding around what it actually means.
On the surface it sounds like you just take something analog (paper) and convert it to a digital format (pdf)… and that’s it. Ah, if only it were that simple.
Understanding the process better can help you overcome the obstacles to leveraging digital transformation – not only to streamline and reduce the effort of managing records and information but also to unlock all kinds of value that you may not have realized before.
Digital Transformation Strategies in 2023
As with anything, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to the state of Digital Transformation today.
We’re optimists here so we’ll start with the good news:
These days many records are happily born in a digital format.
Now comes the bad: counterintuitive as it seems, digital systems have only exacerbated the problem. There’s a tendency to just stuff information into a digital system like it’s a bottomless filing cabinet. Sooner or later, though, even your digital filing system has a bursting point, and data must be migrated to a bigger system.
The volume of that information globally has surpassed any human ability to manage those records in the same way as paper. To make matters more challenging, every office, whether at home or elsewhere, probably still has a printer sitting in the corner.
It won’t take too long before some of those digital records become paper. Before you know it, you’ve got two or three or more sets of the same records.
Research shows that even if these files stay purely digital, 70 to 80% of information is actually ROT (redundant, obsolete, or trivial).
In order to mitigate these risks, Digital Transformation strategies today need to focus on whether you’re digitalizing or digitizing.
What difference can a few letters make? A world of difference as you’ll see.
Digitalization vs Digitization: What’s the Difference?
Let’s start with some definitions first:
Gartner defines digitalization as “the process of changing from analog to digital form, also known as digital enablement”.
Digitization, meanwhile, is defined by Gartner as “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.”
In other words, digitization means going from analog to digital while digitalization means completely rethinking the process entirely.
To use more examples:
Digitization is going from cash to debit card while digitalization is going from hailing a taxi cab to ridesharing apps.
Both are transforming from the analog activity to a digital one, but ridesharing app is completely reengineering the process from the ground up.
It’s the digitization that most digital transformation strategies are missing.
Information Management: From Clay Tablets to the Cloud and Beyond
Information management has evolved dramatically over the centuries. The very first records were written over 5,000 years ago on clay tablets by the ancient Sumerians, and today our information can be accessed with the click of a button.
Questions to Ask While Digitizing an Analog Process
When it comes to optimizing and modernizing a previously analog process, there are a lot of questions to answer that will help lead you down the right path to take. We’re posing several of them into three sections below to help guide you through the process of starting, analyzing, and monitoring your new process.
If you’re not sure about the answer to any of the following due diligence questions, you’ll want to identify the right people to ask as well as solve anything else holding you back before proceeding.
- What is the desired end-state of this digital transformation process?
- Who should lead the project?
- What stakeholders need to be involved in this project?
- Who can assist when things don’t go as planned?
- Do we have (or can we get) stakeholder buy-in or executive support?
- Have we identified the scale of effort and headcount needed for this project?
- Are there any legal requirements that force us to keep this process (or part of it) in analog format?
- Can parts of the current process be eliminated entirely for more efficient ones?
- Can this process be delegated to another department?
- Can we outsource a function or process entirely?
- Are the right partners in place to help us with digitizing?
- If digitizing in-house, what systems do we need to utilize or acquire?
- Do we have training in place to teach the organization about the new process?
- Is the new process accomplishing what we intended?
- Has the team raised any new concerns about the process?
- Have additional processes come to mind that can be digitized?
- Are there tweaks that need to be made to optimize the process?
Most organizations today are still managing their process in a mixed environment of paper and digital information that is growing in both volume and value every day. It’s time to start speeding up your digitalization plans to reap maximum value.
For those looking for more information on how to tackle this project, check out our eBook, Five Considerations for Your Digitization Plan.