The arrival of new digital technologies in the business world has permanently changed work processes. But it has also changed the vocabulary.

From now on, we talk about customer experience, inbound marketing, big data, artificial intelligence, etc. And it is not so easy to find your way around all these terms, which are often closely related to each other.

There are many articles on the internet about companies that have succeeded (or not) in their digitalisation, their digital transformation, or about the importance of digitising one’s business.

Within our consulting firm, which specialises in digital transformation, we also sometimes talk about digitisation or digital transformation. However, there are real differences between these terms.

Let’s look back at the very birth of computing.

Digitisation: a tale of one and zero.

Digitisation is the source of IT. Before the Second World War, some researchers developed binary logic. Without going into detail, all calculations can be summed up in a decision, a duality: yes or no. Translated into numbers, this gives 0 or 1: numbers are the basis of digitisation.

These geniuses often mix theory and practice and design either gadgets or real machines that ‘work’, in short, through relays that are either open or closed. Boole, Shannon, Stibitz, the famous Turing, Von Neuman, are some of the scientists who developed what will gradually give birth to the famous new technologies.

This ‘simple’ binary theory very quickly found practical uses in science, the military and then in the civilian sector, even if these were initially for large companies, given the exorbitant price of the first computers.
Today, we speak of digitisation when we transform a text, an image, a video, a material element, into a sequence of numbers and characters. The end result is an intangible element translated into “digital data”. This data can then be processed by appropriate software tools or instruments.

The most obvious example is the scanning of a page of text which can then be sent by email or read on your computer screen or smartphone.

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Now, before we talk about digital transformation, let’s first go through dematerialisation

Dematerialisation: stop the mess

Digital processes will gradually colonise all economic sectors but also the private sphere. In addition to the speed of transfer and the possibility of processing and transforming digitised elements, this transformation introduces a new dimension: dematerialisation. This term is often confused with digitalisation, to which we will return.

Dematerialisation introduces a new aspect of digitisation: the combination of practicality and the environment.

The principle is simple: avoid the production of physical elements (mainly printed sheets of paper) by producing directly in digital. The advantages of dematerialisation are numerous and go beyond the mere ecological gesture: speed of production, variety of uses, reduced storage, etc.

No one would ever think of printing out an e-mail and forwarding it to another department. One click and the document is sent. This makes the work of a company’s employees much easier. Provided, of course, that a real digital strategy is defined. For forced or poorly negotiated dematerialisation can also paradoxically waste time or introduce errors.

We will come back to this later.

The democratisation of computers, the arrival of the Internet and new tools (smartphones, tablets, etc.), but above all the use of increasingly powerful and cross-disciplinary software, have permanently changed usage. Gone are the days of typewriters, faxes and paper files, office automation in companies is now completely dematerialised.

And all this usable data, the big data, provides an impressive amount of information thanks to analysis software. Today, it is possible to follow the entire customer journey on the web through to the final purchase. This means that marketing to each prospect can be automatically personalised instead of going through extensive advertising campaigns on old media that ultimately bring in few customers.

To sum up: digitisation transforms physical elements into data, digitalisation allows us to work directly in “data” mode.

But what about the so-called digital transformation ?

Digitalisation: a global strategy

The concept of digitalisation is no longer, as with the arrival of new technologies, a marketing synonym for digitisation.

The digitalisation of a company must be understood as a real strategy affecting all internal processes and interactions with the outside world: customers, suppliers, communication, marketing, etc.

Digitisation has been a gradual process, somewhat forced and coerced. Nobody saw the point of a website for a company at the beginning of the 21st century. Nowadays, no one would dare to say that a company, even a small one, does not need a website or a presence on social networks.

Many people have moved from book-based accounting to equivalent software, and companies have progressively integrated computer tools (scanners, printers, etc.) or software. The concern being in the “as and when”…

Most companies end up with obsolete hardware, unsuitable software, outdated automation solutions, and production logic that accumulates duplication and anomalies.

Strictly speaking, to remain in the field of vocabulary, the development of a digital transformation implies not onlydigitisation and digitalisation, but also and above all an overall vision, a real global strategy.

It should introduce into the company :

    • a real quality of work for all employees,
    • the implementation of adapted and adaptable software solutions,
    • Optimal management of digital data to organise future strategies, among other things,
    • automation of internal production processes, but also of back-office processes such as human resources management,
    • ergonomic control of all levers.

The benefits of a successful digital transformation are threefold: to keep up with the challenge of new and ever-changing technologies, to meet customer expectations and to stay ahead of the competition.

And what better way to analyse the obstacles and propose solutions than with an outside, professional eye?

MCA Seed Academy is a digital transformation consultancy offering in-depth internal audits so that you don’t miss out on an essential refresher course.

A fresh and professional eye will be able to detect present problems and future solutions so that your company can finally reap the benefits of these famous new technologies.