Blurred Lines: The Difference Between; Digital Transformation, Digitisation, And Digitalisation

In recent years, we’ve been reading about ‘digital transformation’, ‘digitalisation’ and ‘digitization’. It almost seems like these terms have come out of nowhere; now, we see them pop up in virtually every conversation about the future of marketing, business, technology and e-commerce. 

If you’re one of those who get confused about the differences between these three terms, this post is for you. This post will clarify the main differences between these terms by looking at the definitions.

Digital transformation (DX) is not digitalisation 

Digital transformation (DX) is a term that is often used interchangeably with digitalisation, but in reality, they are not the same thing. While digitalisation refers to the process of converting analogue information into a digital format, DX encompasses a broader set of activities that involve the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of a business.

However, simply having a well-defined DX strategy is not enough to ensure success. One of the biggest obstacles to implementing digital transformation is the cultural resistance to change. People are often resistant to change, and this can make it difficult to implement new technologies and processes.

To overcome this resistance, the most successful DX transformations involve people in the process. This means empowering employees to make their own decisions, encouraging them to develop solutions, and providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. This approach not only helps to overcome resistance to change but also ensures that employees are fully engaged and committed to the transformation process.

person holding phone

The digitalisation of a business process is not a digital transformation

So, what is DX? 

Digital transformation has become so popular it’s now being used to describe any type of digital implementation. However, that is not what DX is. To make things clear, let’s look at the definitions of some standard terms: 

Digitisation: The process of converting analogue data into digital form. It could be a photograph, document, or anything else—the result will be something that can be stored and manipulated on a computer. 

Digitalisation: The process of employing digitisation in business operations and processes. You start using your digital data to automate and streamline your business processes (for example, through software applications). 

Digital Transformation (DX): Change is brought about by harnessing digital technologies to drive new capabilities, engagement models and revenue streams. You are introducing new ways of doing business with the help of digital technology. The change may be radical or incremental, depending on your starting point and vision for where you want to end up. 

Digital Transformation

Digital Disarray 

The term digitalisation has been tossed around quite frequently in recent years, often used interchangeably with digital transformation. However, these two concepts are quite different, and it’s important to understand the nuances of each. Simply put, digitalisation refers to the adoption of digital technologies, such as cloud computing, big data, analytics, and mobile technology, in business operations. While digital transformation is a broader term that encompasses a holistic change in an organization’s culture, operations, and business model to leverage the power of digital technologies to improve business outcomes.

It’s imperative for business leaders to comprehend the intricacies of digital transformation, given the mounting pressure to deliver on the promise that digitisation presents. While investing in digitisation may seem like a no-brainer, it’s essential to consider how to get started with digitisation within an organisation that faces many priorities and constraints. The key is to have a clear understanding of what digitalisation can achieve and how it can be integrated into an organisation’s broader strategic goals.

One of the most significant challenges facing businesses today is digital disarray – the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data and information that digital technologies produce. The sheer volume of data generated by digital technologies can be overwhelming, and organisations can quickly find themselves drowning in a sea of data if they don’t have a clear strategy for managing it. Digital technologies can also create silos of data, making it difficult to share information across departments and teams.

To tackle digital disarray, businesses must adopt a holistic approach to digital transformation that includes a clear strategy for managing data. This involves developing a comprehensive data management framework that encompasses data governance, data quality, data integration, and data security. It’s also essential to develop a culture of data-driven decision-making, where data is used to inform business decisions at all levels of the organisation.

code on screen

Other factors to keep in mind when embarking on DX 

We are dealing with legacy systems. Forget about ripping and replacing the old and getting new. It’s not feasible, nor is it the right strategy to pursue. Instead, it would help if you assumed that you would inherit existing systems, some of which might be causing problems today but are also essential to your business’s functioning. 

We are learning from past mistakes. If a digital initiative failed in the past, don’t repeat those same mistakes- make sure that you recognise what went wrong and take whatever steps necessary to avoid repeating that same failure in your initiative. 

Our closing thoughts

Don’t forget about the people. Digital transformation isn’t just about technology or strategy; it also requires changing your organisation’s culture. 

Digital transformation is not a project – it’s an ongoing journey. Don’t think of digital as something that you can achieve and then be done with it; instead, change is something that every organisation must continually pursue because technologies and customer expectations evolve. 

Digital transformation is the intersection of digital technology and organizational culture. It’s how businesses (and people) use new tools, processes, and technologies to solve problems faster and better.