Are we confusing digitization with digital transformation?

John Kattenhorn
January 18, 2024
 min read
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Digital transformation is a poorly understood phrase. We often blend the words digitization and digital transformation. However, they have very different meanings, ranging from transitioning a paper-based process to an online process to how we have changed how we communicate using social media over a phone call or email. Digitization can be undertaken individually, whereas digital transformation requires that we adopt change across the whole enterprise. Digital transformation is not just about technology.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation marks a rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes in pursuit of new business models and new revenue streams, driven by changes in customer expectations around products and services.

The main aim for digital transformation is to 'transform a business by revamping the way it conducts its business and adopting digital technologies to improve business processes.' Ultimately, based around the idea of providing value to customers/ stakeholders in the ever-changing modern world.

It is ultimately a mindset whereby continuous improvement is required to ‘challenge the status quo experimenting with new ways of doing things and embracing these changes to be relevant in this constantly changing digital world

If you are thinking about venturing into a Digital Transformation project, these are the top 5 things you should be considering before you start.

Why are you engaging in a digital transformation?

Before venturing into a long term digital project it is hugely important to understand the end goal, the benefits, the reason for entering into this journey. There will be times during the process where you may question whether the disruption is worth it and it will be imperative to look back at the business goals to remind yourselves of the true end value of the process.

Are decisions coming from the top?

Research states over and over again that digital transformation needs to be initiated by top management. Our experience has echoed this by emphasising senior leadership teams should support the process and make it a priority across the business.

Developing a culture of adaptability

When it comes to technology, change is going to be a constant. The secret to a successful adoption is to develop a culture within your organization that embraces technology and the changes that come with it. Making sure the process is a team effort is key; including all employees and stakeholders to be informed of the transformation taking place. It is also vital to demonstrate the benefits of going digital to employees as well as communicating the challenges and solutions that may arise.

Deciding where to start first

Determine which processes are the most important to take digital first. Focus your initial efforts on areas with a more immediate payback. And take the time to find the platforms, applications, and solutions that fit your culture and existing workflows.

Realise it's an ongoing process

A digital transformation is a continuous process that realizes incremental benefits along the journey. Be ready to be in it for the long haul.

YES, transformations are disruptive; YES, they take time and effort and can often seem challenging BUT the long-term benefits significantly outweigh the short-term impacts.

John Kattenhorn

Founder & CEO