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From Digitization to Transformation

Digitization in Business

Although digitization has been on most companies’ agendas for quite some time, the impact of COVID-19 has driven forward-thinking organizations to push it to the front of the line in an attempt to future-proof their business.

The recent outbreak has served as a wake-up call that it’s essential to convert our workplace to a digital business to keep operations running efficiently—and adapt to today’s unique situation and tomorrow’s new economy.

Digital solutions can do more than frame innovation for your business. They can help you derive value from your information to meet organizational goals for productivity and efficiency. However, digital transformation can be tough to tackle without fully comprehending how your business—and the people, processes, and technology that support it—need to adapt along with it.

What is Digitization?

Digitization refers to the process of converting analog information into digital formats. An example is scanning a paper document and saving it as a PDF. Simply put, it involves the conversion of a physical artifact into a digital representation.

Additionally, OCR software can be used to make your documents text-searchable. When metadata and word indexes are used, records can be found efficiently. Once your data is digitized, it can be stored, managed, and easily accessed in a cloud storage system for multiple business purposes.

A primary advantage of digitization is the speed and accuracy in which information assets can be transmitted while maintaining the integrity of analog information.

Why Digitization?

If you’re like most companies, each business area – from customer service, operations, to sales, typically work in silos. Each business division creates its own paper deliverables, making it difficult for companies to grasp where it’s information is and how much of it exists.

Enterprises invest heavily in digital technology. But if the systems are incompatible, or not adopted by your workforce, they can be useless to generate the timely, relevant data needed for making critical business decisions.

As data volumes grow indefinitely, the challenge of organizing information becomes a significant issue. Typically, only a small percentage of information is gathered for critical decision-making. And, it’s usually performed in a more reactive rather than proactive mode.

Ultimately, the goal is to leverage your information assets so that you can make well-informed business decisions. This is where digitization comes in – for instant access to the critical information you need. But where do you get started?

5 Steps to Digitization

While there are various components of digital transformation, such as technology applications, the creation of digital cultures, and cloud computing, the first step to starting your conversion is digitization.

Digitization is not an overnight task and should begin with a strategy. To succeed, you need to be patient and precise. Here are five steps to keep in mind:

1. Create a Unified Vision

Your digital transformation strategies should involve your people, processes, and technology holistically. The system you choose to retrieve your information from, whether your own document management system or cloud-based software, is just a tool.

From operators to managers, consider the people that will be affected by your digital transformation initiatives. Then put together a cross-functional team from critical departments to help run your digitization project. Some questions your group may want to consider are:

  • What are your project goals, and how do they align with your organization’s goals?
  • How will digital conversion change your business, and what areas will be affected?
  • What business processes produce information that will make the most impact if digitized?

2. Inventory Company Assets and Activities

Define all your major department’s data, decide if you need to retain it, why you need to keep it, and for how long.

When performing your inventory assessment, keep in mind that you may not want to digitize every department’s documents. In some cases, materials that are accessed by only a few employees may be more cost-efficient to leave in physical format.

For inactive files that need to be retained, consider storing them offsite in records storage facilities to meet compliance requirements. For physical documents that have reached their retention period, paper shredding companies can help you shred them securely.

3. Set Indexing and Metadata Boundaries

Indexing involves the capture of relevant metadata associated with your records. Metadata can be used to index your files to make document retrieval and the management of records more accessible.

Records provide evidence of essential business activities and transactions, so it’s necessary to think about your metadata relating to:

  • Individuals involved in a business activity or transaction
  • Nature of an activity or transaction
  • Outcomes derived from an activity or transaction
  • Any references to other related records

4. Conduct a Pilot Program

Once your information is organized, run a test trial to see if digitization is worth the investment. Choose a single department to roll out the first digitized batch, collect feedback, and analyze the results.

A trial program enables you to refine your strategy and troubleshoot issues, so it’s likely to run the next time seamlessly.

Additionally, a test run can provide you with the necessary data analytics to determine the potential ROI of further digitization initiatives.

5. Be Consistent in Your Methods

Once you feel secure in your decisions, proceed with digitizing information from other departments. However, it’s crucial to maintain consistency and convert data in manageable portions.

Additionally, adhering to a consistent metadata model across your enterprise makes retrieving and managing information in all departments more effective and faster long term.

By applying an integrated approach to document conversion, you’ll break down business silos within your organization and maximize information flow over time.

The Shift From Digitization to Transformation

Transformations are hard, and digital ones are even harder. However, organizations can embrace business slowdowns at this time and focus on using digitized data to gain contextual insights to understand your business better.

It’s also a time to keep your team connected and prepare them for a new way of conducting business digitally. With the ability to gather, process, prepare, and aggregate data across your organization, you can drive workforce innovation and take your business to new heights.

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