Going Digital | Digital Transformation | what is ‘Digital’ anyway?

I remember learning about Analog & Digital signals during my engineering days. Digital, i.e. Digits, i.e. definite value – expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization. Fast forward to today – Almost every company wants to “Go Digital.” What! How can a company be Digital, i.e. On or Off, 0 or 1? I guess I missed something in between.

If you search for Digital” in Wikipedia, you get a list like,

  • “Digital culture”, the anthropological dimension of the social changes
  • “Digital camera”
  • “Digital computer”, a computer that handles information represented by discrete values
  • “Digital data”, discrete data, usually represented using binary numbers
  • “Digital divide”, a form of economic and social inequality in access to or use of information and communication technologies
  • “Digital economy”, an economy based on computing and telecommunications resources
  • “Digital electronics”
  • “Digital media”, media stored as data
  • “Digital radio”, which uses digital technology to transmit or receive
  • “Digital signal” (electronics), signals formed from a discrete set of wave forms, rather than continuous ranges
  • “Digital signal” (signal processing), sampled analog signals represented as a sequence of values
  • “Digital television”
  • “Digital versus film photography”

The dictionary says,

  • Relating to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals.
  • OR involving or relating to the use of computer technology.

Yeah! The second aspect makes some sense now. But computers, really? We have been using them since long, then what has changed now that everyone is singing ‘Digital’? Am I still missing something? This particular topic has been on my mind for long. Since the propaganda of “Digital India“. In this post, I try to discover the term and provide some clarity to its meaning. Nah! I am not claiming these are definitive definitions. They are just my interpretation. Today is the day when I am ‘On’ I guess 🙂 to pen down my thoughts about ‘Being Digital’.

Going Digital

We have been using computers since long. I remember writing Java programs during my engineering. Playing computer games during the school days. Does that mean I am Digital? Nah! Of course not. Then what does it mean when organizations say ‘Going Digital’?

  • Book a flight ticket online >> Show the Email at Airport check-in >> Flight boarded. No Print-outs needed.
  • Went for shopping >> Pay using Credit card >> Got an SMS on my mobile >> Account debited online >> Parcel delivered. No Print-outs.
  • Booked Packers & Movers for household shifting >> Got a call for confirmation >> Received payment link on my Email >> Advance paid using Net Banking >> Household Shifted on time >> Paid using POS machine >> Invoice received on my Email. No Print-outs.
  • Filed my Income Tax Returns online >> E-verified using Net Banking >> ITR received directly in my Bank account. No Print-outs.

Need information? Google it. Everything you wanted is available online now-a-days, except few things like government IDs. Enterprises are engaging with customers via all means – Mobile App, Email, SMS, POS, etc. People are interacting online via Social media channels. Mobile is the new information age revolution. Analytics help extract information from the big data. Cloud helps in optimizing resources. Digital encompasses everything, and what not. But what’s common in everything? All of the technologies? Yeah! Computer technology. And what else? How do you connect every-thing with every-thing? Exactly. The Internet!

The term means different things to different people. Yes, digital is a vague term. Merging employees and assets with algorithms in order to operate continuously and deliver a seamless user experience. Or any technology that connects people and machines with each other or with information. Or Integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers. For me,

“Going Digital is leveraging the technology such as Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence & Robotics along with The Internet to reduce manual intervention and physical connectivity.”

It can be paper forms & bills, or branch interactions, offer vouchers, anything. The world is moving towards paper-less technology in every sphere of life. The target is to drive everything via technology + internet. Connectivity promises tremendous new value, gained by the advantage of local context, collaborative intelligence and the extraction of previously unattainable insight from physical objects. Connect things-with-things via IoT. Drive cars using automation. Capture & analyse consumer data using Big Data. Leverage Clouds for implementation. Experience almost anything via Virtual Reality. The list is endless. Digital is a convergence of many technologies and social changes that have led to a new era. Together these technologies have created a new kind of connected world.

Digital Transformation

Note: The phrase “Digital Transformation” has quadrupled in terms of Google searches in the last 2 years, doubling in the last year alone. It highlights the rapid increase in wanting to understand more about the topic and this will only continue to rise as it is adopted into more and more strategies across the globe.

Transformation as in revolution or a makeover. But makeover of what? And Digital makeover? What does it mean? Transformation is a whole scale change to the foundation components of a business: from its operating model to its infrastructure. There are three key drivers of transformation: changing consumer demand, changing technology and changing competition. These, of course, are an ecosystem and it is always a convergence of factors that brings about changes in a market. Taking a cue from above Digital explanation – Digital Transformation is nothing but replacing the conventional methods of customer interaction & data processing. Digital transformation find ways to capture, store & process ‘data’ which can be found anywhere, i.e. any channel.

Our custom definition,

“Digital Transformation refers to a change in the way we do things, influenced by advancement in technology, to reduce manual intervention and drive effective & efficient processes.”

  • ‘Change in the way’ refers to interaction points, i.e. automation, Online, Mobile, payment POS, etc.
  • ‘Things’ can be any avenue where technology can be applied, i.e. Marketing, Manufacturing, Relationship, Supply-chain, Logistics, Governance, etc.
  • ‘Technology’ is the enabler, i.e. IoT, Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, Machine Learning, Virtual, Networks, etc.
  • ‘Reduce Manual Intervention’ refers to use of devices & internet.
  • ‘Drive processes’ as in day-to-day activities.

Data can be captured via different channels like Social networks, Mobile technology, online repositories, physical product interactions, etc. Digital Transformation targets to streamline specific processes with the help of accumulated data to offer excellent customer interactions. Governments are going digital to streamline their processes of governance & citizen interaction like forms, regulations and policy updates. Enterprises are focusing on digital transformation to streamline ALL customer interactions. People are leveraging this digital transformation for their day-to-day work. Digital transformation is the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.

It requires three pillars of transformation – the organizations, the customers and the technology infrastructure. Organizations are driving the digital wave by finding new avenues. Customers are going digital by using all the available consumer-facing technology. Technological advancements are driving the required infrastructure.

Finding avenues to go Digital

Digital Business is a term representing the emergence of digital inspired business models, enterprise architectures, information systems and business processes in the global economy. Digital Business is all about applying Digital Technologies and Strategies for the Innovation and Transformation of a business context.

The real challenge for all this Digital talk is finding the right avenue for Digital transformation. Companies and Governments are finding new avenues now & then to replace traditional data capture & processing. Be it driver-less cars, online applications, social media interactions, online payments, mobile information exchange, customer preferences, anything. As technology evolves, new avenues are being identified for Digital transformation. Online & Mobile Payments. Big Data enables huge real-time data to be processed successfully. Real-time access using Cloud technology. The opportunities are limitless…

Why go Digital?

Simple answer – To improve the efficiency & effectiveness of processes for customers as well as enterprises. If you look at Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, IoT, Machine Learning, Big Data, Virtual Reality, etc., everything is working hand-in-hand to ease the traditional ways of doing things. Enterprises are finding new ways to interact with customers, to streamline their processes, etc. Customers are using different technologies to ease out their daily tasks. Digital is about unlocking growth!

  • Logistics: Use of sensors, big data, and analytics has enabled companies to improve the efficiency of their supply-chain operations.
  • Marketing: Based on analytics & intelligence deliver content and experiences that are personalized and relevant to the customer. The rapid rise of wearable technology and the IoT represents the latest wave of touchpoints that will enable companies to blend digital and physical experiences even more.
  • Finance: Developing multiple means for online payments without the need of physical money exchange.
  • Governance: Replacing traditional paper-based governance to online request-response-act model.
  • Manufacturing: Building new services and revenue streams around digital data and analytics.
  • Public and private sector institutions: Helping people find and do more from anywhere at any time.
  • Enterprises: Leverage technology like mobility and BYOD to drive employee efficiency and work satisfaction.
  • Customer Relationships: Capture, store & analyse data captured via different channels to drive more effective customer engagement programs.
  • All: Digital means new tools to help people collaborate, communicate, and make better decisions.

Digital Transformation has resulted in stronger opportunities to transform and change existing business models, socio-economic structures, legal and policy measures, organizational patterns, cultural barriers, etc. It is imperative for all businesses, from the small to the enterprise. That message comes through loud and clear from seemingly every keynote, panel discussion, article, or study related to how businesses can remain competitive and relevant as the world becomes increasingly digital. Although IT will play an important role in driving digital transformation strategy, the work of implementing and adapting to the massive changes that go along with digital transformation falls to everyone.

Being Digital is not easy, but with the right people and patience, all that investment in time and effort is very worthwhile. What matters is understanding what people need – whether they’re customers, employees, citizens, or partners – and exploring what’s possible to make your products and services better, quicker, or more affordable. Digital technologies just happen to be a great way to do that. It is revolutionary and it’s going to stay for long now. For some it’s about Technology. For others a new way of engaging with customers. For some a new way of doing business. For some – no idea 😛 Whatever it is – for me, Digital is a new way of doing things + leveraging technology (specially ‘The Internet’) + to reduce manual intervention and physical assets + to ease our lives!

Trivia: Digit – A single character in a numbering system. In decimal, digits are 0 through 9. In binary, digits are 0 and 1. Describes any system based on discontinuous data or events. Computers are digital machines because at their most basic level they can distinguish between just two values, 0 and 1, or off and on. There is no simple way to represent all the values in between, such as 0.25. All data that a computer processes must be encoded digitally, as a series of zeroes and ones.



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