Digital transformation

Digital transformation 101: successful digitalization of business explained

What is digital transformation, and why is everyone talking about it? Long story short, the introduction of digital business technologies has already left a footprint on the way we work. The digitalization of business processes will only continue to build up its tremendous influence. The experts call it the 4th industrial revolution. Would you like to join the conversation?

Contents:

  1. What is digital transformation

  2. Top 3 business benefits from digital transformation

  3. Digitization vs digitalization vs digital transformation

  4. Examples of digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation

  5. Most popular types of digital transformation

  6. 5 reasons to adopt a digital transformation strategy

  7. Who needs a digital transformation strategy

  8. Why you should have a digital transformation strategy too

  9. Easy steps towards a successful digital transformation strategy

  10. Why digital transformation is good

What is digital transformation

As technologies continue to develop and disrupt, this fast-paced environment has come to signalize the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution. So, what is digital transformation exactly, and what role does it play in the world of accounting and finance?

Digital transformation is business transformation with the help of digital technologies and digital tools. What kind of transformation is it? The transformation of business processes, products, and models to fully leverage the opportunities that digital technologies provide. The main goal is to improve efficiency, manage risk or discover new monetization opportunities. Digital transformation is doing things in a new (digital) way.

Top 3 business benefits from digital transformation

Digital transformation is not an easy task that business owners can do at the snap of their fingers. You need to allocate resources for it. It is clear that before you even start the digital transformation journey, you want to be sure you will benefit from it.

Facilitation of business operating processes

Due to digital transformation, companies and professionals have been able to offer clients and their workforce more options and build new businesses because of affordable accounting software and automation technologies. This technological option has increased efficiency and enhanced competitiveness as firms work with online shops and high-tech startups.

Collaboration made easier

Have you ever lost a client because you didn’t have enough time or resources to deliver a service? Or failed to communicate with clients effectively because of the location? Digital technology makes collaboration easier. Businesses can manage the workload easier and make more effective use of people’s time. Digital tools allow a better-personalized client service regardless of the distance. Clients appreciate the ability to access accounting documents and updates in real time, bringing more transparency, trust, and efficiency to communication.

Diversification of income sources

Thanks to the digitalization of business processes, many organizations and small businesses could preserve their revenue sources when the pandemic hit. Moreover, many organizations and business professionals have also created new value streams that were not possible before implementing digital technology. They adjusted how they interact with customers, changed how they sell and deliver their products and services, and found out how to offer new value to their clients. 

Digitization vs Digitalization vs Digital transformation

Digitization and digitalization often get confused. These processes are parts of a digital transformation, but not the same thing. Digitalization is about applying digital tools to the existing business processes. Digital transformation is a broader term that means doing business in a new, digital way. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  • Digitization means converting information from a physical to a digital format.

When you use this process to improve business, then it is called digitalization. Digital transformation is what you get as a result of this effort.

  • Digitalization is the process of leveraging digital technologies to improve business processes. 

Digitalization means making digitized data work for your business. This term refers to the use of digital technologies and digital data to create revenue.

  • Digital transformation refers to an entirely new market, as well as a new customer and business realities.

Digital transformation includes all aspects of business that change due to the digitalization of business processes, like new customer touchpoints, online growth strategy, remote work, and more. 

Examples of digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation

DigitizationDigitalizationDigital transformation
– Scanning a paper document and saving it as a digital document, like PDF.
– Typing accounting data in an Excel spreadsheet instead of a paper ledger.
– Writing down your business contacts into a mobile phone contact book.
– Attaching a PDF document to your email an sending it to a client.
– Converting an Excel spreadsheet to a Google Sheet. 
– Uploading your mobile contact book to a messaging app.
– Automating the document flow with a specialized software program.
– Using automated accounting software to store, process, and analyze accounting data.
– Keep clients’ data within your working software and automate communication through it.

Most popular types of digital transformation

Digital transformation has been a hot topic for a few years. Albeit, nothing has advanced the digitalization of business further than the pandemic. During the last year, the market has moved quickly from talking about digital transformation to doing it.

According to industry researchers, the disruptive nature of digital technologies has become evident to nearly everyone. Harvard Business Review informs that 80% of businesses expect their industry to be disrupted by digital technology shortly. McKinsey analytics report that the COVID-19 recovery will be digital, as 45% of companies say they are increasing focus on digital transformation. 

What types of digital transformation have been the most popular so far? Here are the areas where businesses implemented technological changes during the pandemic:

  • 93% — shift to remote work,
  • 62% — dealing with increasing customer demand for online purchase and services,
  • 34% — migration of their company’s assets to the cloud.

The image below will give you an overview of the adoption of digital tools and technology by industry:

Source: McKinsey

5 reasons to adopt digital transformation

  1. Digitalization prevents errors, including losing revenue.

Some small organizations are reluctant about using the latest technological financial tools. They continue to use handwritten invoices or calculate income in Excel spreadsheets. Delays in mailing invoices can lead to a bookkeeping jumble or even lost revenue. That’s where a digital transformation strategy can help. Rather than experiencing troubles with cash flow balancing, these companies could use a smart accounting software system that would easily reconcile what they have delivered with what was invoiced.

  1. Digital tools help with the retention of clients and customers.

Clients that are familiar with using technology are looking to work with companies and professionals that have a similar digital presence. Implementing a digital transformation strategy is crucial if you don’t want your clients to go elsewhere. So, upgrading your business’s digital processes will help build trust and reach out to sought-after clients. 

  1. Digital technologies enhance your knowledge about clients.

One of the profound advantages of digitalization is accurately storing your data. The right software provides businesses with easy access to crucial information for analytics and visualization. With accurate data, you will have better insights into your business health and a better understanding of consumers to make better decisions. 

  1. Technology enables quick, easy, and shared access to business information.

People working in organizations with minor business processes digitalization were forced to return to offices during the pandemic. Utilizing modern technological solutions eliminates the need to risk the health of employees. Any teammate or a representative on the client’s side can have instant access documentation to retrieve necessary information, all while sitting on their couches. This possibility can vastly boost the efficiency of your work.

  1. Automation creates time for implementing cost-efficient ideas.

Many small companies have difficulty implementing new ideas because of their limited resources. To test a new concept for the market, businesses need to make things happen quickly. For many smaller players, it becomes inefficient even to try. By embracing digital technology, you will eventually create more available time and testing ideas will become easier. That’s the power of automation.

Who needs a digital transformation strategy

Before we jump to the question, we will start with a simpler one. What is a digital transformation strategy? Let’s clarify.

A digital transformation strategy is a plan of action for a business to strategically rebuild its core business processes by adopting digital technologies and digital tools in compliance with the new digital economy. Customer habits change, and so do the way successful businesses operate. They adapt, change operating models and business strategies to leverage emerging technology.

Business owners often expect that implementing one single tool or app will enhance customer satisfaction on its own. However, the best way to improve customer satisfaction is to make smaller-scale changes with the help of different tools at different points of the service cycle. The only way to know where to alter and how to alter is through obtaining extensive and in-depth input from the customers. There is no single technology that will deliver “speed” or “innovation” as such. The best combination of tools for a given organization will vary from one vision to another.

So who needs to have a digital transformation strategy for the post-pandemic economy? Actually, everyone, regardless of the size or the industry. The scale of digitalization of business processes will obviously differ, but the need remains equal to every player in the economy. 

Why you should have a digital transformation strategy too

Do you have customers? Then that is your main reason why. If you haven’t thought about the digital transformation strategy for your business yet, you may be missing out. Chances are, your competitors are already implementing one.

Customers are at the core of digital transformation. People are very responsive to the conveniences digitalization offers. As businesses enhance such experiences, they gain a competitive advantage. By having a digital transformation strategy, your business has more chances to outperform competitors in the increasingly competitive marketplace. 

People have already experienced technological changes in their personal and professional lives. They expect organizations to embrace the shift to digital as well. To achieve it, you need a strategy. Many small- and medium-sized businesses have already taken their first steps toward successful digital transformation. You should too!

Easy steps towards a successful digital transformation strategy

When the world is changing, no one can function as an isolated island. Businesses of all sizes, industries, and backgrounds find themselves forced to adapt to the digital transformation revolution. 

Many companies took their business processes online while fighting to stay afloat. Customers were also trying new digital technologies and approaches. This means it could be challenging for organizations to return to old business models because their clients, customers, vendors, and other business contacts have already embraced change and embedded digital tools into daily workflows. 

Do you feel ready to adopt digital transformation? Here’s how you could start today.

  1. Don’t focus on your size.

Successful digital transformation is not limited to larger companies. Now is the time for all kinds of businesses, especially smaller ones, to seize the opportunity that digital transformation offers. Organizations of all sizes and even self-employed professionals can observe the ways digital technology drives efficiencies and improves effectiveness in the post-pandemic economy. 

  1. Start with automating mundane tasks.

Digital transformation is impossible without the adoption of digital technology. Become comfortable with digital transformation and using digital tools on a daily basis. The best way to achieve it is to start with transferring day-to-day duties to automation software. You will feel the benefits and free yourself more time for exciting tasks. It will set an ideal mindset for further digitization of business. 

  1. Embrace human relationships.

The successful transformation includes understanding the human impact, such as how we develop and maintain relationships, socialize and collaborate, and address the ongoing need for learning and flexibility. 

Why digital transformation is good

First and foremost, digital transformation broadens an organization’s horizons. Digital tools offer surprising changes in business processes. Fewer limitations, more possibilities. When we work in a new way, we find new solutions that we were blind to previously. 

You can deliver products and services in multiple new ways and through more new channels. One of the best examples of how the shift to a new operational model can benefit a business is restaurants. Their transition to takeout and delivery services turned out to be very successful when in-store dining was under a lockdown ban.

Accountants and professionals in financial services worked with businesses as the crisis began, offering their expert assistance to help clients survive. Accountants and finance professionals will continue to support the transition to the digital economy. Still, to continue their support, accountants will have to adopt digitalization of accounting services in the first place.

Bottom line

According to most industry researches, digital transformation is a highly topical issue and will only strengthen its presence after the pandemic. Businesses will be likely to invest more in emerging digital tools and digital technologies in upcoming years.

Most businesses today are still at the beginning of their transformation process. However, they acknowledge that having and executing a digital transformation strategy can lead them to success. 
To get the most out of digital transformation, companies need to foresee the possible problems and avoid pitfalls such as resistance to change and challenges in implementing the correct skillset. Successful companies recognize that the way to remain relevant in the post-pandemic economy is by making their contribution to creating and maintaining a global digital ecosystem.

Are you an accountant? Want to know how digitalization will influence your job in the future? Read our new article Accounting services in the digital age

Olga Shvets

Olga Shvets

Olga is a FinTech writer with a degree in Intercultural Communications and business experience in e-commerce. Passionate about all things money and the principles of human behavior. Financial psychology and the trends of worldwide markets are her favorite topics to investigate.

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