What is digitization?

Published on: May 16, 2019

In a nutshell, digitization means automating manual processes.

When talking about digitization, people often associate it with taking a business to the next level by automating manual processes to save time and money. Digitization can mean, for example, moving your accounting system from a local server into the cloud, so that you are no longer responsible for operation and maintenance, including backup and updates.

It can also mean integrating your ERP system with your webshop so that data is automatically exchanged between the two systems, a project that we did for the Sparkz clothing chain. Digitization can also mean developing an app for optimizing the collection of garbage bins, like what we did for the Danish transportation company Poul Schou.

Basically, it’s all about optimizing and digitizing processes in order to:

- Increase efficiency;

- Save money;

- Reduce the number of errors; and

- Take advantage of new technical possibilities.

No digitization strategy?

Not a day goes by without reading or hearing about one or the other digitization and digital transformation strategy and what both public and private companies are doing so as not to be left behind. The thought of everything that you can and should do but are not doing may get you sweating and your heart racing.

As always, it is important to take what you hear with a grain of salt. Firstly, there are many misleading "clickbait" articles on the web describing doomsday scenarios but without actual substance, and secondly, there are many self-proclaimed "experts" who throw themselves around with words and expressions they don’t really understand, but gives a little attention to for a short while.

As a business owner, you basically have four options:

  1. Spend time learning about digitization and do it all yourself.
  2. Use an external consultant.
  3. Employ a person who is responsible for digitization.
  4. Combine the above three options.

Hire an employee to help with digitization

If your company's finances and size allow, you should consider hiring an "all-around" person who has a good and solid understanding of digitization, preferably one with a few digitization projects under their belt.

A skilled all-around person can help with a lot, for example:

  • Explain and review concepts and opportunities.
  • Identify various things that can be digitized and prioritize them.
  • Be the link between the management and the employees affected by the digitization.
  • Find suppliers and/or consultants for various tasks as well as be the link between the company and the suppliers.

Use consultants for advice and for things that you can’t do yourself within the company. External consultants can be great partners to help you along when you start a new project or to have discussions with when you need knowledge in-house.

How do I keep up-to-date on the digital front?

I’m fortunate to work in a technology company with hundreds of customers who constantly challenge us in every possible and impossible way. Although it can be stressful, it has a positive side effect in that as soon as there is something new that comes up, we’re confronted with it and we’re forced to get into things right away.

In addition to the daily dose in the office, I take seminars and courses when I consider that it is of quality and not just a platform for self-promotion. A skilled consultant (it’s typically consultants and area experts who speak at such events) can dissect even very complicated subjects in 1 or 2 hours, so you have something to work with.

I also follow these topics on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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