Digitization, Digitalization and Digital Transformation – what they are and how they can save you

Whether it is an intuitive website or a retailer who can electronically showcase its entire product range over a range of in-store digital devices, the race is on for retailers who truly want to harness the power of digital services on and off-line sales. It is now seen as crucial that companies transform themselves digitally with USA retail giant Target reportedly budgeting $1,000,000,000 to meet their digital transformation goals (1). How does a single business achieve this degree of digital maturity?

The three basic recognized steps are digitization, digitalization and digital transformation.

What are the shades of meaning between these terms?

What is digitization?

Transitioning from analogue to digital.

Digitization is the conversion process from a record that a computer cannot utilize (such as a physical or analogue record) to one that it can.

This could mean anything from the utilization of a database rather than a physical record or the scanning and cataloguing of physical photographs.

Digitization is purely the conversion process, it does not involve any employment of the digitized data. It further does not obligate destruction of the original non-digitized record. Some businesses (i.e. for accounting purposes) may be obligated to maintain parallel digitized and non-digitized records. Digitizing may seem to be an arduous process for some, however it lays an incredibly valuable foundation for the next step: Digitalization.

What is digitalization?

Making digitized information work for you.

Digitalization most often refers to the usage of digitized records to enable new workflows, systems or activities with a specific benefit in mind.

In simple English it means seeing digitized information as your employee and putting it to work. Think of a company that has digitized its entire inventory, product listing, pricing, stock levels and image catalogue. This information in database form is then made available to store assistants nationwide or even internationally. The data has been employed for the benefit of the company in a way that would not have been possible in its pre-digitized state.

Digitalization is dependent on the first step, digitization, being thoroughly and accurately accomplished. After all, data processes are only as accurate as the information that they are based on.

What is digital transformation?

Take advantage of digitalization to create ground-breaking new concepts.

Digital business transformation is the employment of digital services, generally at an enterprise level, to create profound progress for your company and to reach your digital goals.

It may include, but not be limited to, the adoption of cloud-based data management systems, CRM systems and electronic warehousing. And due to its high level of connectivity it can open the possibility to employ other retail technologies such as roving point of sale devices as one example.

Digital transformation is not a single project-based initiative or the implementation of a new single technology. It is a decision to benefit from the connectivity and expedited workflows that the latest retail technology can provide. The most effective method for this is to use a single cloud-based solution, where all retail systems are feeding information to a central data source and simultaneously receiving real-time data from this same source. This can then be rolled out to stores and to individual sales personnel who can then provide efficient and accurate information and services to clients and customers. All stores are connected and all personnel are connected. A profound change.

Let’s not forget that these steps are sequential. They depend on the accurate implementation of the previous step. However, the result can be prodigious and mean salvation for some businesses. According to some statistics, 85% of enterprise decision makers surveyed feel they have a timeframe of just two years to make significant inroads on their digital transformation before suffering financially and/or falling behind their competitors (2).

Shopi is setting a new standard for digital transformation and have an impressive array of digital tools. You can learn more about how we can help businesses avoid falling behind or suffering financially because of digital immaturity at