The relationship between digitalising and digitising is like the one between coffee and water. And, like water and coffee, it’s usually best to have both!  

The difference between these two terms and their impact is crucial to future planning. Knowing how they work together can help improve productivity, growth and ensure you become – or remain – a reliable and trusted name in your market. In this blog, I’ll take you through: 

1. What do ‘digitalising’ and ‘digitising’ mean? 
2. How can digitising and digitalising benefit my business? 
3. How can I move from digitising to digitalising? 
4. What is the next step? 
5. Is digital transformation necessary? 

1. What do ‘digitalising’ and ‘digitising’ mean? 

Digitisation: Converting something into a digital format. Usually refers to the encoding of data and documents. 

Digitalisation: Changing business processes to make use of digital technologies, instead of analogue or offline systems. 

For example, let’s say there are documents requiring a signature. Joe prints his document, takes it to the required person and has them physically sign it. He scans the document and saves it to his C drive as a PDF. Joe has digitised the document. 

Meanwhile, Joanne has sent her document via DocuSign, and saved the signed response in the cloud, so it can be accessed by all relevant people from any location. She has digitalised the process. 

This isn’t to say that Joanne hasn’t digitised. She did so when creating the document. But her method of sending and saving has meant the process has gone a step further by taking advantage of the available software and techniques to ensure a quicker, smoother means of sending, receiving, and saving the document.  

The next logical step is Digital Transformation, wherein company processes are adapted to digitalisation, to save time and money in the long-term. 

2. How can digitising and digitalising benefit my business? 

Digitising is low cost, low risk, and high reward. Things like scanning paper documents or photographs and saving them as PDFs on a company drive or typing up hand-written notes so they can be stored online. These are all examples of digitising, many of which you are probably already doing. 

Digitising also means faster access to information, higher security around your documents and records, higher business mobility, and better disaster recovery options. When stored in a shared portal, you would also benefit from the immediate and secure storage and exchange of documents between customers and your organisation. A consequence of these factors usually results in an improved customer experience, as employees can access relevant information to help with customer queries in a timely fashion and increased overall productivity. 

For every benefit listed above, digitalisation does it better. 

You needn’t spend time manually transcribing handwritten notes if you use dictation software. No need to email documents back and forth for editing when you have access to shared cloud storage and collaboration tools. If documents are already in a digital format, there is no need to scan and save. 

It doesn’t feel like a lot of time saved on a case-by-case basis, but a few minutes here and there per task can add up. This saved time can then be channelled toward improving the client journey, customer retention, and new business, increasing your profitability and productivity. 

Going back to our Joe/Joanne example, when Joanne uploads and sends her document via DocuSign, she is digitalising. Going a step further would be integrating DocuSign with a system that allows the document to be linked directly back to the corresponding client, in a relevant section. With TrustQuay Online, for example, the process of changing a signatory could be as simple as uploading the relevant document to a shared space. This system would notify the customer of a document requiring signature, the client would sign, and the system would notify the user of the change. All of this would occur in a single space, with no need to email the document separately or file the signed version. 

3. How can I make the move from digitising to digitalising? 

To take the next step, you need to draw up a plan to keep the digitalisation consistent across your business. This will allow you to put workflows in place, and ensure your working methods conform to the legal and regulatory requirements of your location. 

  • List out the approved software required to complete tasks, while trying to keep this list as minimal as possible 
  • Conduct staff training on how to get the most out of the software available to them 
  • Automate as much of the process as possible, and consult knowledgeable third parties where needed to ensure you have the correct tools to do the job

Digitalising takes some initial investment, both in time and cost, but will save your business money in the long-term in areas such as resourcing and running costs. 

So far, I have not mentioned the downsides of digitalisation. That’s not to say there aren’t any, but they far outweigh the benefits. You just have to be mindful of digitalising for the betterment of your business, rather than to keep up with the competition. 

Another thing to consider is that the process of digitalising can be easier when approached in stages. Break down your requirements and prioritise, then implement the changes in stages. This will allow you to budget the changes over a longer period and ensure your users are adapting smoothly with the updates rather than being faced with an entire new way of working all at once. For example, if your highest priority is to ensure all user time is tracked and billed with complete accuracy, invest first in a time and billing module, then move to other features, such as banking integrations, regulatory compliance modules, and so on. 

What is the next step? 

‘Digital transformation’ has become something of a buzzword these days in relation to businesses embracing advances in technology in their respective markets. For all that everyone is talking about it, the term itself is vague, as it means different levels of digitalisation to different companies. 

Digital transformation means to make permanent, overarching changes to your business that use the best-suited tools and technologies available. These are things like implementing automation in the customer journey, switching to new software or solutions for your working practices, or transitioning to remote or hybrid working, as many of us did during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do. 

Financial Technology (abbreviated to FinTech, which is a term I expect you’ve seen more than a handful of times) is built-for-purpose for the finance industry. This means it specifically looks at the challenges faced by businesses in this industry, such as regulatory burdens, the assurance of data security, and investment diversification. It also means that the questions raised about risk and reliability on the topic of digital transformation are considered and addressed early in the process. 

TrustQuay approach FinTech as an opportunity to constantly digitalise and improve business systems. Examples of this include enhanced transaction monitoring, improved regulatory software, and our recent dive into the world of Software-as-a-Service solutions. We believe your systems should only ever benefit you, working in line with your business practices to improve efficiency and increase your profitability. 

When considering your business’ future, it is always best to consider a solution that had been designed with your specific needs in mind, and favour purpose over price. This will allow you to future-proof your business and avoid unnecessary technical debt. 

5. Is digital transformation necessary? 

A 2019 Forbes article says it best: “Digital is risky, but shying away from digital transformation is even riskier.” 

Digital transformation is modernisation. There are a handful of things that worked so well the first time, they never needed to change – the safety pin comes to mind, with over 150 years of unchanged success – but the old adage of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” doesn’t really work in today’s business world. We are constantly adapting and evolving and to remain static is to be left behind. 

Think less of why digital transformation is necessary, and more about the specific challenges it can help you with. Things like: 

  • Efficiency: save time on administrative tasks, allowing your users to focus more on profitable tasks. 
  • Consolidation: keep your users in one program, not only saving the time it takes to switch between programs, but also allows both users and customers quicker and easier access to required data. 
  • Automation: remove the risk of manual reporting, such as time tracking, ensuring your invoices are accurate while also allowing an exact view of how your users are spending their time, which can then help towards improving processes and highlighting pain-points. 
  • Greener solutions: with change comes responsibility. Every new solution now should consider carbon impact and make every effort to minimise it. A lower carbon footprint can mean reduced energy costs and a more positive public perception of your brand. Customers these days often factor in a company’s efforts to offset their carbon emissions when making business decisions. 

Customers want a smoother client journey, a fast response to queries, a dependable partner to rely on for their purchased service. In a direct competition, the winning company will be the one who can offer speed, reliability, and ease of service. 

It’s easier than ever to modify and update your digital environment, with purpose-built software designed to take the pain out of digital transformation. The best example of this is Software-as-a-Service, which is designed to save you on infrastructure costs, resourcing issues, upgrade problems, and more. 

What point are you at in your digital journey? What is your opinion on digitising and digitalising the workplace? Let us know in the comments below! 

About the Author

Keziah Bryceland

Keziah is a Product Marketing Executive at TrustQuay