Why digitizing your business should be the next step forward
The process of digitization is an essential part of maintaining your business in the modern world. If you are just starting a company, then any contemporary business model will assume the digitization of key processes from day one. However, existing firms face more of a challenge in that they may have operated in much the same way for decades, or even generations, and updating their methods involves a significant process of upheaval and a certain degree of risk. Nevertheless, businesses must adapt to the way of the world, as it will not happen the other way around. Digitization is one of the main ways in which those businesses must adapt.
What is digitization?
Digitization means converting information into a digital format. It also means that in future, the gathering, storage, and distribution of information will be done digitally. The ultimate aim of digitization is the paperless office. Digitization can also lead to further business opportunities in the digital sphere, which could lead to major changes in your company’s core operations. Initially, however, it means that paper records, bookkeeping, invoicing, and so forth needs to be done away with, as all of these functions can be better carried out using computers.
Increasingly, digitization also means moving manual functions and processes online. The use of cloud computing means that documents can be stored virtually and accessed by authorized personnel at any time regardless of physical location. This enables instant online collaboration as well as greatly improved customer service in appropriate circumstances.
The pros and cons
The main difficulties of digitization are those mentioned above; for longstanding businesses, the backlog of paper records may be so extensive that digitizing them can be extremely laborious and time-consuming. This cannot be rushed, however, as there is always the risk of making mistakes that could have far-reaching implications. Some employees may also resent the changes; they may be stuck in their ways, preferring to do things the way they have always been done.
In some cases, these fears are justified, as digitization can result in some job roles being surplus to requirements. Redundancies may occur unless employees are prepared to retrain and fulfil new roles elsewhere in the company. One of the great advantages of digitization is the greater efficiency that it brings. Processes are speeded up and operating costs are lowered, but to take full advantage, it may also be necessary to streamline the workforce when certain manual tasks are no longer necessary.
Once digitization is complete, however, and previously separate functions are integrated, then this may enable your company to branch out into new areas. Profitable new roles may be created as digitization leads to innovation and even new products. Data itself can become a sellable product, especially when subjected to unique analysis.
Save time and resources
Transferring your records to your computer system is the first step in digitization. You should also make sure that all future information gathering and filing is done digitally – for instance, invoicing clients. Keeping a standard invoice template (Word) saves time and resources, and suitable templates for any purpose can be found at Invoice Home. Cloud-based recordkeeping puts your business at less risk as all important information is stored virtually and cannot be lost due to fire, flood, or burglary, or even systems failure.
If your business is customer facing, then digitization enables you to greatly improve the level of service you are offering. Today’s customers expect to be able to carry out all manner of interactions online, from shopping to banking. The more you can offer them a smooth, frictionless experience, the more they’ll be likely to use your business again. Equally, digitization enables you to gather and store information about your customers much more accurately and easily. This information can be analyzed to discover more about the wants, needs, and habits of your target market, which in turn can be leveraged to provide better service, leading to an increased market share for your company and greater loyalty from your existing customer base.
How to begin
Before starting the process of digitization, it’s important to consider the desired outcomes. This will stop you wasting money and resources on taking the wrong approach. For instance, if your priority is to improve security and better protect customer information, then you should think carefully about how to achieve this rather than automating other areas of the business first. Digitization should serve your business needs rather than the other way around, though ultimately a holistic approach, in which digitization serves to seamlessly connect the different departments and functions of your business, should be your final goal.
Access to the cutting edge
If your business often feels like a lumbering dinosaur out of step with the modern age, then digitization is the best option to bring it up to date and to make it streamlined and really competitive once again. Computer and internet-based solutions will also give you access to further technological advances as they become available, with cloud-based services looking to be the most affordable and efficient way to utilize cutting-edge technology at a fraction of the cost of buying it in as hardware or software.
As manual tasks become obsolete, the time, money, and resources saved can be channeled into new business opportunities opened up by the digitization process. Digitization will help to reduce mistakes caused by human error as well as speeding up operating processes and lowering costs. As other businesses look to do business digitally, digitizing processes such as invoices will bring your company into line with contemporary standard practice and will make all such transactions easier and smoother. Digitization also improves customer relations, allowing you to provide a higher quality of service while retaining more information about your customer demographics and their buying habits.
If your business is still relying on paper-based recordkeeping, then digitization is well overdue. Beginning the process now will send the signal that you’re prepared to move with the times and adapt to the demands of the modern digital era.