Do you agree with the following statement?
If a retailer offers e-commerce, has self-checkouts in its retail stores, and hires new talent online, it has digitally transformed.
A decade ago, this may have been true.
Fast forward to today, however, and there are so many technologies available that merely having a website may not be viewed as groundbreaking. Self-checkouts might serve a purpose, but I would point out that there’s much more potential to empower a staff which is freed up from standing at a cashier counter. A digital recruiting platform could save time; however, is it finding the best matches for the company’s needs?
These discussions stem from two ongoing trends: digitization and digital transformation. Both serve a purpose and can have an impact on a company’s performance. While they are similar in a certain sense, they differ in key areas. Let’s consider each and discover how they can improve, revamp, and even supercharge an organization to fit today’s needs and face tomorrow.
In its basic form, digitization means to put information into digital format. When a retailer shifts away from paper processes and makes them digital, it is carrying out digitization. There can often be a buzz of excitement around these tasks. Indeed, they are often timesaving and can increase efficiencies.
On its own, digitization has limitations. It may speed up a process, but the task at hand usually still serves the same purpose. For instance, if departments are in silos and not integrated within an organization, digitization could streamline their internal procedures. Yet the functions will still be on their own and not interconnected. The result is that substantial changes to the business approach have been made.
Conclusion: Digitization can speed up processes, but it doesn’t create a different business model.
When looking at the state of retailers and bankruptcy trends during the last decade, we may agree that in many cases, a new business model is needed. Customers are interacting differently with brands today, and they have new expectations. They are searching for products on their phone, checking out online from their laptop as they sit on their couch, and heading to the store when they want an experience—not a transaction.
To keep up with these changes, a digital transformation could be in order. At its core, digital transformation starts with reimaging the way business is done. It is similar to taking a whiteboard and wiping it clean. A fresh start, if you will. It asks how customers are interacting with a company. Digital transformation re-envisions how products and services could be sold and delivered, what type of working environment is best for workers, and how associates want to contribute and find meaning in their roles. After carrying out these dreaming exercises, integrated systems can be established to support the new vision that puts the customer first and caters to consumer expectations today and tomorrow.
Conclusion: Digital transformation involves creating a new, integrated shopping experience that puts the customer first, and its possibilities are nearly endless.
Will companies benefit more from digitization or digital transformation? Certainly, both have their benefits. The beginning example we saw, including websites, self-checkouts, and online hiring systems, could be a start.
To truly change and adopt to the customers of today, we need to pause and re-think how we do business. Then we can digitally transform our organization to meet the changing tides of commerce. After all, our future depends on it.
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As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.