Digitalization is a word that has made its way into mainstream business vocabulary. It’s not just an IT term anymore. Who knows what the next big thing will be, but one thing is for sure: businesses today are racing to digitalise their operations, and some of them are already on the last mile of the journey.
What is digitalization?
We have all watched some new technology take off in the past, and we can’t help but wonder if this time it will be different. In a similar way, when it comes to digitalisation, we are seeing things that are revolutionary and clearly incredibly useful. We might not have realised the extent to which business benefits have come from the development of digital tools.
(Digitisation and its impact on the economy: insights taken from a survey of large companies- European Central Bank)
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the majority of business activities don’t require any more physical presence. Digitalisation isn’t just about tech products; it’s an idea that has gone mainstream and is now embedded in everything you do as a business owner or manager.
1. The digitisation of processes
The most obvious benefit of digitisation is the removal of any physical presence which you didn’t need before. This is a huge and significant change to the way business tends to operate; it’s rather like several years ago all your staff were located in one room, and then with digitalising all processes there was suddenly no reason for anyone to be anywhere else! The whole concept of physical locations has become outdated as a result.
2. Increased efficiency
Alongside this, digitalisation means increased efficiency; instead of having to physically cover multiple locations you can now cover more ground, thereby reducing lost time and delivering higher productivity rates across the board.
3. Effective marketing
One of the lesser-known benefits of digitalisation is that it can also help you in your marketing activities. If you have an online presence, then you can use digital tools to track your activity and measure the outcomes; this information allows you to make informed decisions about how best to invest time and money in what is working and what isn’t. It also gives you a better idea of who your customers are and makes it easier to engage with them as individuals.
4. Data management
As everything becomes digitised there will be a huge demand for data management; this means that every aspect of your business will require storing data which you can access quickly. This can be anything from the details of your business’ physical premises to information about your customers and suppliers.
5. Lower costs
Another big benefit of digitalisation is the ability to reduce costs. This is not always obvious, but if you are able to communicate with customers through online channels rather than having to call centres or in-store outlets, then you will save a lot of money which can be invested elsewhere.
6. Better data
The digitisation of business activities is also enabling us to access better data, which can be analysed to help make better-informed decisions. As a result the business world has become much more intelligent, if you will.
7. Global accessibility
Here’s another big benefit: digitalisation has made the world a smaller place because businesses can reach their customers anywhere in the world without physically travelling there; this makes it easier for businesses to expand, and it opens up new markets for companies that have previously been limited in their reach. Digitalisation also makes it easier for people living in different time zones to collaborate; instead of having all your staff working on the same hours, you can have teams from around the world all working at different times. Some businesses have even started digitalising as they travel, so they can work no matter where they are in the world.
8. Reduced transaction costs
One of the biggest cost-cutting benefits of digitalisation is that it reduces transaction costs; this means that a lot of money can be made available to invest in new areas and ideas, which can then benefit the business.
In a similar vein to the point above, digitalisation is making it easier for businesses to take advantage of e-commerce by offering customers access to products and services remotely. Online shopping has been around for a while, but the advent of digital-enabled technology means that it’s becoming an increasingly popular option for online retailers.
10. Expanded reach
Digitalisation also enables businesses to change their marketing strategies, so that they can reach more customers than ever before. This is an especially useful benefit of digitalisation for global businesses.
11. Automated processes
Digitalisation has made it much easier for business owners to automate processes; this means that you can save a lot of time and resources, which can then be invested elsewhere.
12. Simultaneous production
As well as this, as a result of digitalisation new manufacturing technologies mean that you can now produce multiple products at the same time, if necessary; this is another way to cut costs and invest in other areas of your business instead.
13. E-learning and training
Digitalisation has also made it possible to deliver training and education via online channels. This is a great benefit for businesses, especially those that are working in remote locations or those where it’s difficult to find trained staff.
14. Increased employee efficiency
The digitisation of processes also means that your employees can get more done as they have access to a wider range of tools and information without having to move anywhere. As a result everyone is more efficient, which helps you save valuable time and resources.
Is digitalisation coming to an end?
We’ve already mentioned that digitalisation is no longer limited to just computers and computers; it is permeating everything from our phones, to wearables, to sofas. If you’re not already on the bandwagon then you should get up to speed at once; this technology is here to stay and it’s here for the long run.
In addition, businesses can only benefit from investment in digitalisation; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the business world has reached a peak in terms of growth. Whilst digitalisation has removed many barriers and made working easier, there are still other barriers which will continue to exist for some time.
For example there is still a lack of digital skills in the workplace; most of the people who have grown up with technology are opting to leave the workplace, which means that this skill base will only become thinner. Also, data security is a big issue; as we become more reliant on technology it becomes easier for hackers to get access to our data.
It’s difficult to keep pace with digital technologies, even if you want to. This is because there is simply so much information and new skills for businesses to master. Some areas of the world are still struggling to catch up with others. Digital technologies are most developed in the Western world and some places are still behind, which means that they will have a lot to catch up on.
Digitalisation has revolutionised our lives; we get access to more information than ever before and we can use this information using smart devices on the go, at all times of day or night. Suddenly, the business world is in a very different place thanks to digitalisation; it’s transformed businesses into global operations without borders, and it’s made learning available to everyone all over the world. It’s made hundreds of industries possible, and it’s given us access to information and communication at a fraction of the time it used to take.