Digitalization gaining momentum

5 min read
Apr 29, 2024 2:43:47 PM
Digitization, digital transformation, data-driven digital strategy: once they were buzz words ... now they belong to the status quo and, according to Gartner*, digitization is a matter of 'do or die' for companies: 69% of executives report that they are implementing and accelerating digital initiatives in response to COVID. In this article you will read why this is so, and what digitalization means for your business and your customer.


What does digitization mean?

A reply card...remember? Whereas we used to send a reply card to request a brochure for a product we were interested in, today we consider an online form the most normal thing in the world... And that has its advantages, because thanks to an automatic check of the data, the brochure almost always arrives at its destination error-free. And it saves us a lot of time: the brochure arrives in our mailbox within a few days, or even in the mail within seconds.

Not so long ago, we thought of "digitization" as transferring video tapes to DVDs or another digital format. Or scanning documents. Meanwhile, digitization has long since ceased to be just about transforming analog data. Digitization is also about making (and optimizing) processes digital. Digitalization has accelerated tremendously in recent years, partly due to the pandemic.

Digitalization versus digital transformation

Digitalization is often confused with digital transformation. While digital transformation goes beyond just digitizing processes and information. Digital transformation also involves adapting internal processes, which is challenging because it affects an organization's culture.

And digital transformation enables new business models. That sounds like a luxury, but it increasingly constitutes a necessity: companies that develop new business models and set up their organization accordingly are more successful than players that only digitize existing processes. And even if it is not (immediately) possible to make money in new ways, there are countless benefits that digital transformation brings about. For both the company and its customers.

Why digitize: some of the benefits

The question of whether you want to digitize as a company is no longer an issue; digital companies are the future. And there are many reasons for this; we list the most common arguments:

More efficient processes

Efficiency is by far one of the most important drivers of digitization. Digitization accelerates and improves. Take making a quotation, that used to take forever compared to now. You had to rely on paper catalogs and calculate the amounts manually. Thanks to digitization, this is a thing of the past. You now select the products from a digital list in no time and the software does the rest: the amounts are added up, the correct discounts are applied and voila: the quotation is ready. Not only faster, but the chance of mistakes is also a lot smaller!

And another example is that today you can (partially) outsource your processes, so that you no longer have to do everything yourself and/or manually. For example, you can run your customer service through a chat box, allowing you to do more work with fewer employees.

Anyone who starts digitizing processes soon experiences a flywheel effect; making one process digital makes it easier to improve other processes as well. If only because of the data that becomes available and thus the optimization opportunities.

Improved customer experience

Digitization is breaking away from the 24-hour economy; there are no opening hours digitally. Customers can place an order at any time, from any location and are not found to (telephone) queues. Placing the order is also faster because there is no more need to pass complicated numbers over the phone. And the customer has more insight into the status of his order, which in many cases can be tracked online.

Of course there are also advantages to an analog process, take for example the personal contact.

Not everyone enjoys placing an order digitally. Especially not when the process does not allow for context, and the customer cannot, for example, place preferences or comments. The digital process must run smoothly, otherwise it backfires and leads to a negative customer experience. Convenience is always a prerequisite for success.

Easier access to information

Information that is digitized is easier and cheaper to process, analyze and share than non-digitized information. Many aspects can also be automated, speeding up processes. The speed at which digital data is exchanged is perhaps the most important benefit of digitization and also explains why digitization is inevitable for companies. You can see in real time at your headquarters in the Netherlands what products are being sold in your branches abroad. Previously, this data had to be relayed. Whereas a signed contract used to take days to mail, it now appears directly in the e-mail. This quick access to information also means you can steer much better for results.

Data analytics

Another important property of digital information is that it can be analyzed much faster. Imagine if all account managers' contact moments were still put in an old-fashioned folder ... it would take you days to analyze them all! All the notes have to be read through and organized. In a digital system, you can print out each specific contact moment (e.g., all demos) in an instant to take a closer look. UsingBusiness Intelligence and Big Data, it is even possible to combine digital information from many different sources.

The commercial opportunities of digitization

Digitization is everywhere and it is inevitable. Even the -at first glance- more traditional companies, for example where many physical tools and materials are worked with, such as construction companies, now have digital processes and assets such as construction drawings and planning. And in sectors where the primary processes are less easy to digitize, such as diagnostics care, supporting processes such as scheduling an appointment are perfectly fine online.

This also applies to the commercial processes in a company, where the gross of customer communication often already takes place digitally. For example, via an online form, by e-mail, or via a chat box. And even Whatsapp has long since ceased to be an exception. Your website is often your first business card; this is where most new leads get to know your company for the first time. Incidentally, personal contact remains as important as ever, especially later in the sales process. Even if it is not possible to digitize a sales conversation, a good digital platform does offer the opportunity to record the outcomes of these events. Understanding who was present during the contact moment, what was discussed, when and where it took place are the basis for improving the customer experience.

Getting started with digitizing your sales processes

It's no surprise that digitization is at the top of executive agendas. Not only does it make for efficient operations, but it also provides more insight into the market and what's on customers' minds. These insights help to (continue to) provide added value, now and in the future. It also provides insight into the effectiveness of your commercial processes, for example. The right software is essential for this, so that you can be relevant throughout the customer journey and monitor it properly.

HubSpot is an example of a modern solution that allows you to optimally support the digitization of your sales processes. HubSpot touches the entire sales process, from your website to providing service and improving customer satisfaction.

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