What is the new digital age, and how does it change the way we work? For some, this refers to the advent of disruptive forces—mobile, big data, analytics, cloud and social—that are impacting enterprise technology and altering consumer expectations. But simply steering ahead of rapid changes isn’t enough; instead, businesses should consider adopting these very technologies to better engage their customers and embrace this digital revolution.
That’s why digital transformation is now the buzzword hanging on everyone’s lips. It’s gradually being adopted by both smaller, nimbler businesses and larger, more established enterprises. Smaller offices are tapping on digital transformation to stay agile, while bigger companies use it to sharpen their competitive edge. In fact, the media and marketing services agency IDG revealed in a study that 49% of IT executives believe Internet of Things (IoT) is key to their digital business strategies—a key aspect of digital transformation. Meanwhile, 62% shared that success as a digital-first business is defined by great customer experiences.
Responding To Change
For organisations that have yet to consider or respond to this shift, attempting to do so now—and in as little time as possible—may seem like a daunting prospect. Adopting digital transformation does feel like a hefty undertaking, but think about how your business functions and performs mostly boils down to one key function: processes. Refining new, paperless processes is a core tenet of this trend. The manual and repetitive routines that’re so common in traditional offices are costly, time-consuming, and prone to human errors.
Equally crucial, however, is addressing a common point of contention in these processes: paper and physical documents. In them is information we often rely on for our daily work, and the tedium of retrieving these details in a timely manner is what spurred many businesses to look towards digital transformation for a solution. However, many have only gone ahead with digitisation, which is about converting paper into digital formats. While useful to an extent, this is merely the initial step of digital transformation; most haven’t even considered digitising the processes themselves.
Then we have digitalisation, a third phrase I’m just going to throw into the fray. It’s another term that’s closely associated with digitisation and digital transformation—but are used so interchangeably that it makes the whole affair absolutely confusing. I’ve come up with a quick primer:
- Digitisation: Convert analog information—those in physical forms—to digital ones
- Digitalisation: Use digital technologies—such as digital workflow, process automation and analytics—to improve business models and processes
- Digital transformation: Create brand new business models and fundamentally transform the way businesses are run through digital technologies
Start With Digitalisation
Vital to facilitating this change, however, is bringing processes and data from disparate sources closer. To this end, businesses can start with workflow automation, a digital technology that will bring about digitalisation. By replacing manual and paper-based processes, this not only improves productivity by freeing resources to more critical functions, but also enhance productivity, reduce chances of human error, and even improve accountability and transparency—among a bunch of other benefits.
Let’s say you’re working in sales. Dealing with digital records, instead of sifting through massive stacks of paper for the data you need, will make a marked difference in making incisive and even split-second decisions in real-time. This can even help you leave a better impression with customers. With automated processes, you can even personalise and strengthen your customer experiences, eventually nurturing lasting customer loyalty.
The First Step Into Digital Transformation
Embracing digital transformation is a big step, but changes on such a large scale usually takes place incrementally. Companies that’re facing issues with cumbersome processes can still tap on digital technology to become more efficient. In time, improvements in other aspects of the business can build upon this transformation—thus setting your business on the path of digital transformation.
What I would suggest is to start by identifying the problems in your organisation; specifically, those you believe can be improved through workflow automation. Are you often behind your payment and invoicing schedules? Is too much time taken up on administrative work and repetitive routines? Choosing the solution and vendor that are most capable of supporting your immediate needs and long term goals is also another important factor.
With IDC estimating that spending on digital transformation will surpass $2 trillion in 2019, businesses should be taking their first steps into digital transformation or risk falling behind. Yet, starting on this journey doesn’t mark its finality; this will be a continuously evolving journey for organisations—one that you should be prepared to stay in for the long haul.
Why not start by taking a look at our Workflow Automation Services? Take a look and see how that can help you embark on your own digital transformation journey.
Joseph Sulfaro is the Head of Business Process Services (BPS) within Asia Pacific, leading the team’s efforts towards driving the overall strategy of these services and solutions across the region. With over two decades of experience, he’s a veteran in the information and enterprise technology industry.