Digitalisation has been a topic of interest for some time. And many of the top organisations are embracing it as part of their technology strategy. But what is Digitilsaiton? This short article will walk you through the basics and help you understand.
What is digitalisation?
At the heart of it, Digitalisation is taking anything analogue and converting it to digital. You can think of this process as the same as when audio cassettes moved to Compact Disc and then progressed to iTunes or Spotify. We can all understand the advantages of downloading music on the move rather than carrying a sizeable cassette player around!
Why digitalise something?
Taking our previous example of the cassette, you will note that the outcome is the same. So, for example, you can listen to your favourite music track, whether it’s on cassette or Spotify. However, now music is digital, you gain other benefits such as higher audio quality, less environmental waste and access to music anywhere. All of which is great for the customer.
Another related aspect to consider is how it improves your business. For example, any process or task that requires a human will be slower than when handled by a computer. That means you are wasting a degree of time which invariably amounts to more operational overhead. Therefore, digitalising your end-to-end process creates efficiency and opportunity, contributing to better customer outcomes.
What are the steps?
At a high level, there are three fundamental steps of Digitalisation:
- Digitisation – convert everything analogue to digital.
- Digitalisation – how do you improve once converted to digital?
- Digital Transformation – how do you evolve, using Human Centered Design (HCD) methodologies to disrupt the industry?
As the above demonstrates, digitising everything is the gateway to technology disruption. Overall, the more you can digitise, the easier it is to transform and improve.
There are a few myths (and sometimes disagreements) about Digitalisation. So, we have captured a few and discuss them below.
It’s only for technologists and scientists
Digitalisation is about transforming processes from end to end to make them more efficient. And this includes anything that is part of that process. So it is certainly not exclusive to big businesses or high-flying technologists.
It’s only for big problems
Of course, it can be about significant problems, but that is usually the ultimate endpoint. In reality, it’s about making small improvement steps on a journey to solving more critical issues. And each slight improvement provides an overall positive benefit.
It’s just about following a process.
We have found it quite hard to create a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to Digitalisation. Each path is different, and it’s about the combination of processes, people and technology.
It’s only about technology.
Well, it’s not really. As part of Digitalisation, you may have to streamline a process which cant be digitised. But you can make it more efficient and therefore lessen any negative impact.
It must be expensive.
Not necessarily. It’s about making small and incremental changes which should improve your productivity or service. The offsetting effect should save you money or make your product more attractive.
Ways of Working
At this point, you should have an idea of what Digitalisation is. But how do you practically apply this to your daily working lives? We cannot be too prescriptive here, as every business is different. But we have five essential tips to help you get on the road.
- Take a customer-first approach – the whole point of the process is to benefit the customer, indirectly or directly. So the first step is to understand your customer’s needs by working with them and soliciting feedback. Then, finally, as you digitalise and make improvements, ensure your customer is involved in that process.
- Attack your weakest points – there is a good rule of thumb when looking for process improvements. You are only as fast as your slowest point. Therefore, if you have a 10-step process, and step 5 is the slowest, then that should be the initial focus for improvement.
- Collaborate internally – bring teams together and spend time looking at problems and working out how to improve. You will be amazed about all the issues people sit on when in silos. A key area here is to analyse your data and collaborate on ways to improve and evolve.
- Be comfortable with failure – not everything you do will be a complete success from the start. You need to try, test and then pivot if something is not working. Failure is part of the process and learning how to fail fast and well is essential. Furthermore, you will learn something even in failure – so it’s never a total waste.
- Invest in your team and yourself – take time to research the field, learn about emerging technology and improve your knowledge. Part of the process is the breadth of experience, so don’t forget to invest in yourself and your teams.
That was not painful after all! In under 700 words, you have learnt what Digitalisation is, how it benefits the customer and what you can start doing to apply to your everyday work. So start looking at everything slowing you down and see if you can improve that process and outcome.