Whoa whoa whoa... Here we thought ‘digitisation’ and ‘digitalisation’ is the same thing! Well, not gonna lie, I still have difficulties to spell them out when I put them together in a sentence; often because I mistook one for another.
The word ‘digital’ is no longer alien to us, undeniably. The first thing I thought when I hear that word is, of course, the digital watch; the opposite of the analogue watch. The time, instead of being represented by neatly printed/embedded number, is conveniently expressed as dynamic numbers, controlled by codes.
But what are digitisation AND digitalisation? (damn it I misspelt that again)
Well, we often use this interchangeably, and I’m guilty as charged as well. But they are actually two different things, but both are paramount to your business, nevertheless.
Before we go into why both of them are important to your business, let’s go into their definitions first, shall we?
What is Digitisation?
‘Digitisation’ is the process – see, if any noun or verb is followed by the suffix -tion, most often than not, it is a process. (Thus, concludes our English lesson). Alright alright, ‘digitisation’ is the process of changing information from its physical form to the digital one. From analogue, to digital.
For example, I took a taxi to a client’s office; for business purpose obviously. I asked for the receipt and the driver happily printed it out for me. I took a picture of that for my safekeeping, you know, just in case. That act of taking the picture, is digitisation. Simple ain’t it?
Okay, But What is Digitalisation Then?
I thought the ‘digitisation’ was ‘digitalisation’ before this, frankly. But, do not fret yourself if you did the same too. Digitalisation is the act; or again, a process of using digitisation to improve other processes or functions.
Remember that receipt I took a picture of? Well now, I’m converting it to a pdf file, and upload it to the HR system so I can claim the mileage from the company through a dedicated system that is directly linked to the company’s bank. That, my friend, is digitalisation.
More? Okay okay, consider this; instead of sending a printed letter and sending it through a courier service, you just email the person (and maybe attach the scanned document). Writing the email and attaching the document are digitisation, but sending it as a part of your business process is digitalisation.
Now that we got that sorted out, let’s discuss why both of them are important for your business. And before you say small business like yours has no ‘business’ (excuse the pun) in taking port about these two, you should know that small businesses are the ones who will greatly benefit should you guys adopt this. No sh** (can I write that, hmm)
Digitisation Means Safekeeping
Digitisation? Checked. Digitalisation? Also checked. Now, if your company has been running on good-old paperwork, printed receipts and tons and tons of properly sorted documents, congratulations, you can consider yourself a legit business. At least you are very organised; until, you need to be.
Problems arise when they are least wanted. I’m sure you can agree with that. Keeping analogue data is no longer how people choose to operate nowadays. Why? Because they are messy, space-consuming, and easily destroyed.
Remember the case of a fire at KWSP’s building? Or the catastrophic loss of important government documents when a massive flood hit the East Coast? Or when a fire ‘broke’ out at the National Medical Forensics Institute store which contains important records and data?
To add, in 2017, Malaysia’s Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat (JBPM) reported that there are 15,838 small premises that are very vulnerable to fire. Does this include small businesses as well? Yes, you bet, ESPECIALLY the small businesses.
If you are still doing all those manual book-keeping and filing, chances are, it’s easier to lose your data and record in unexpected events, should they happen. Start converting those analogue data to digital data right now, I mean, now.
Digitalisation’s Potential is as Vast as the Internet Goes
Don’t you want to let people know that they deserve better with a much lesser cost?
That’s true. Conventional marketing can only be spread so far. I’m not saying that it does not work, I’m saying their effectiveness is eroding as days go by. And what’s worse is; good conventional marketing only works well for large corporations as they are the only ones with enough money to spend on million-bucks billboards and extravagant roadshows and sponsoring competitions and events.
What about you? The hardworking small business owners who have such a great idea to share with the world? Isn’t what you have to offer is far superior to the things people had out there? Don’t you want to let people know that they deserve better with a much lesser cost? How can you ever compete with these large corporate companies, right?
If only there’s something that can level the playing field....
But you already what it is. Yes, digitalisation levels it out for all of us. Your revolutionary products now can be known across borders. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are great when it comes to doing digital marketing.
Of course, having a website helps but you have to do more than that. Make every process as digital as you can. The only limitation you will have then is just your effort.
Digitisation and Digitalisation Spell Efficiency
And efficiency means more time and money saved. Instead of spending your precious hours filing and labelling those receipts and invoices, you can easily digitise all of them and systematically sort them out in your computer. The good part is; you can always store them in a cloud-based storage, shareable across multiple devices at once and on the go.
Those who need the information and data when and where they need them can conveniently access the place where you store them, removing the need to request the files from a dedicated person which can take a long time to do so.
For example, the finance department can access the company’s account and transaction record from the comfort of his/her home, the HR manager can browse through candidate’s resume whilst riding the train, and the marketing manager can have an overview of his team’s marketing effort and the analytics that go with it. This enables them to work faster remotely and maybe happily too.
The one who will benefit from their efficiency is nobody other than your business. Now that the data and information can be accessed conveniently and decisions can be made swiftly, you’ll be surprised how a little investment can go a long way.
More Data, More Sales
The thing about marketing is it needs to be targeted to the right people. Otherwise, it is pestilence to the masses and that is not good for your product and your company. Although we are rapidly advancing towards the digital world, the masses out there still crave for individuality and the need to feel special; us included.
With enough data, companies can make sense of their marketing effort and this will help them greatly in providing good customer experience. But here where the issue makes its appearance.
The approval rate of digital transformation (DT) (digitisation and digitalisation effort) is relatively low in Malaysia not because businesses are unwilling to adopt the technology, it is because they don’t know what to make sense of the data. SMEs have enough data in hand but not enough resources to hire data scientists to translate the data.
Hence, the intention of DT should not just to be not left out, but it should be centred around customers; it should focus on how to give the best experience to them. Used properly, data can be proven to be very valuable to your company and maybe making it worth hiring that data scientist.
Some examples of targeted marketing using data collected include what you see every time you open up the Lazada app or website. That’s where your money goes, because you just couldn’t help it, could you? Or even the type of ads Facebook shows on your feed. You think it’s a coincidence? Yeah, right. But it caught you like a fish on a hook nevertheless, didn’t it? Those temptations, that customisation, that SPECIALISATION...urghh...!!!
Can’t Teach an Old Dog a New Trick
We do talk about DT like it’s the future of the world. Ideally, that’s where we want to head to. But living on Earth means living realistically too. DT is no exception when it comes to launching itself from the ground, away from the sceptics and conservatives. The mindset of the people, especially those who are well-established in the corporate world remains one of the main challenges in adopting DT.
But those who have the digital blood in them like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Alibaba do not have this issue. They speak technology and look where they are now; on top of the world. I guess their rockets are good enough to fly away from those old-timers.
These big corporations are undeniably important players in making DT possible. For example, it’s hard to go fully digital if our audit is done by those who still adamant on going through ledgers, files and folders for hours. Even if we want to keep our office ‘green’, in the end, when they come in, we still have to print our documents out and sort them accordingly as they instructed.
(Un)Practice What You Preach?
What’s even sadder, is, in some instances, the government itself is unwilling to support the effort, despite they themselves preaching the importance and benefits of going through DT. In Malaysia for example, systems are being developed for multiple government agencies to make relevant processes faster and easier. However, at the end of the day, the audit process still has to go through papers and files, making the effort thus far redundant and almost worthless.
Companies are encouraged to undergo DT, but when dealing with LHDN for instance, they still have to present hardcopies and keep printed documents. So, what’s the point of going through digitisation and digitalisation? Of course, the same cannot be said for all ministries and departments.
But this shows how discoordinated and disconnected the government agencies are which each other. Inconsistency such as this will impede the whole ‘transformation’ endeavours companies have gone so far and frankly, it will discourage any further effort.
So, What’s The Endgame?
Well, those who refuse to ride the stream of change are damned to stay behind; even if you are a government. What the government do is not within your control, but what is, is what you do for your business. Despite the drawback when it comes to dealing with government agencies and corporations who refuse to go fully digital, DT still offers a lot for your business.
Don’t be discouraged just yet. Start your journey today and who knows, you might be the one who will be on the spearhead, leading Malaysia’s path to a world of infinite possibilities that is digital.
Here at Aplikasi, we are aspired to adopt and promote DT, be it internally or in our services to SAP consultants and clients. What we see in the next 5 years is a personalised and specialised system for each of our consultants and clients; where they will have more autonomy and deciding power, where convenience is manifested based on their experience, and most importantly, where technology meets good-old human touch.
What we ask of you is simple; come and join us in this journey, and together we can be at the top of those who drive digital transformation