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Why now is the time to digitalise your business

 Digitalisation can transform the way you do business, by creating a great online experience for your customers, and by using technology to cut down admin and improve processes. Many businesses have embraced digitalisation in the last few years - can you afford to be left behind?

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In the last few years, businesses have made huge improvements to their organisations through digitalisation. This trend was sent into overdrive by the pandemic, which forced many companies to move processes online, and who are now streets ahead of competitors who failed to grasp the opportunities of digitalisation. 

Today digitalisation can transform the way that you do business, both by creating a great online experience for your customers, and by simplifying administrative tasks and processes, making life much easier for you and your employees.

In this guide we'll explain everything you need to know about digitalisation, how it can help your business, and why now is the time to digitalise - or get left behind.


What is digitalisation?

Digitalisation is business improvement supported by digital systems. It can be as small and as simple as having an online database of clients, rather than a spreadsheet, or as large and complex as a complete business transformation.

You can use digitalisation to improve your customer service and experiences, your in-house processes and systems, and even your marketing and outreach. 

In short, it can help your company make more money, and save time and money on administration too.


Digitisation vs digitalisation

To digitise or digitalise? While they may seem similar, digitisation is simply the process of turning something analoge into something digital. For example, turning photographs into digital image files.

Digitalisation however, is about using digital technology to make improvements to something - and it's this process that can really make an impact on how you do business.


Digitalisation v Digital Transformation

There's a considerable crossover between digitalisation and digital transformation, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

However, the biggest difference between the two is that "digitalisation" usually involves using digital systems for things that had not previously been digitised, whereas "digital transformation" is often changing processes that are already digital, but aren't making the most of the technologies currently available. Digital transformations also often include more wide-ranging strategies across an entire company.


Benefits of digitalisation

Digitalisation can help your business in lots of different ways,for example it can:

  • Turn time consuming administrative tasks into simpler, more streamlined ones
  • Create a better customer experience - and even give customers more control over their interactions with you
  • Give better transparency of data, for different teams in your business and for customers themselves
  • Help you identify the marketing channels that are working for you, and how to reach new potential clients
  • Automate repetitive tasks and touchpoints with customers without losing personalisation

And this is just a small selection of things that business digitalisation can do for you. 


How digitalisation can improve customer experience

When it comes to customer service, digitalisation can really improve customer satisfaction without needing a big investment of time, money or personnel.

For example, simple changes, such as having an automated email sent out when someone makes an enquiry creates a touchpoint between you and your customer and lets them know you've got their message.

More sophisticated strategies can provide intuitive interactions with your customer, from AI chatbots to in-depth support archives. Empowering your customer to be able to get what they want without needing to contact your team is a win for everyone.

But the key here isn't to make your customer do all your work for you! We've all come across a frustrating experience with a chatbot that didn't know the answer and either kept repeating the same unhelpful information, or closed itself down without any useful resolution. This leaves your customer feeling like you're not actually trying to help them, but that you're just trying to cut down on customer service staff.

That's why it's crucial that your digitalisation strategy is thoroughly planned out, so you aren't reducing friction in one area, only to find it's adding complexity somewhere else.


Digitalisation Example: Improving CX with an online system

Driving with Dogs was a membership website that had been running for 10 years, giving members access to details of dog walks close to major roads in the UK and France.

The website had already been through a digitisation process, with the maps available as pdf downloads. But it was digitalisation that transformed the website for a new, younger, more tech-reliant audience.

We started completely fresh, with a full rethink of the entire user journey, setting up a system where people could plan a route and find walks along the way, look in a certain geographical area, or even search by road.

The PDF downloads were replaced with interactive Bing maps, so users could navigate to them using their actual starting location - but still with the option to print directions if needed.

By changing the basic functionality of how the walks were searched and supplied, it also gave us the opportunity to add more features that hadn't been possible before - such as the ability for users to add their own walks, or write reviews of walks they'd been on. This started to create a community of users, and provided more useful information for anyone using the website too.

Online subscriptions were added, with customers able to manage their own account and membership level. We also added a gamification feature to encourage users to interact with the website - Treats. By adding, reviewing or adding pictures to walks, users can gain Treat Points, which then give them the chance to win prizes. 

These changes and updates completely transformed the website from being a hobby, into a fully fledged business. Since the new website launch, Driving with Dogs has grown hugely, with more visitors, more subscribers, more traffic and most importantly - a big increase in revenue.  


Improve your internal processes through digitalisation

Another main area that digitalisation can impact is your own business processes. It's rare that a business starts life with a fully implemented online admin system, and most organisations have an assortment of different ways of managing different tasks and processes.

These often get more complex over time, and can leave staff juggling multiple documents, lists and tasks, with no centralised organisation or system. In these scenarios it's easy to make mistakes, to forget to contact a customer or client, or for tasks to be overlooked.

Data digitalisation can provide you with a system and structure that streamlines your information, your processes and your data. By having a digital framework for your administrative tasks, you can minimise errors and overlooked tasks, and get a much better picture of your performance too.


Digitalisation Example: Streamlining administration

CJ's Events manage markets across the Warwickshire area, from traditional Sunday markets, to special events for artisans, food producers and more. Before their new website went live, all the applications and management for these markets was handled through spreadsheets, documents and emails. This made it difficult to keep track of all the data, not to mention requiring a lot more effort from the team to chase information and manage customers.

The creation of an online application process for their markets enabled CJs to improve a huge range of internal processes, and to create a single source of information that could be easily accessed and understood by the team. It also allowed them to automatically send out reminders, requests and invoices, reducing their administrative burden and costs even further. 

With clients now able to manage their applications, payments and documentation online, and automated reminders sent by the system, CJ's staff aren't spending their time chasing clients or collating information. With the administrative burden greatly reduced, it means that CJs can spend more time on growing the business.


How do you manage the digitalisation process?

A digitalisation project should always start with understanding, planning and strategy - which is why it's absolutely essential that you find the right digitalisation company as your partner.

Your agency should take time to get to understand you, your business and your customers, including all your current processes. You'll have your own ideas on how you can improve things, but your agency should also have some suggestions on what might work. By working together, you will be able to set out a strategy for the project.

Many digitalisation projects start with what's called a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. An MVP is a version of your website or app that only provides the essential elements it needs to achieve your goals.

The beauty of an MVP is that it really streamlines your strategy, and prevents you from spending lots of money up front on features or elements that might not actually bring the benefits you hope for.

Once your MVP is in place, you can then enhance it over time. This lets you grow the product organically, using real data and feedback to inform your choices about what to do next.


Why you should be considering digitalisation now

The way we do business has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, and this increased exponentially during and after the pandemic. 

Businesses that had previously only ever been in-person, suddenly found themselves having to pivot, and embrace digitalisation to survive.

It also dramatically changed consumer habits, with people who had previously not wanted to use digital systems suddenly reliant on them. Of course with the end of the pandemic some companies and people have gone back to business as usual - but a lot haven't.

And it's the companies who made the most of digitalisation innovation whose businesses are now in the best position to succeed. 

You should also consider that the younger generations are far more reliant on digital systems, and often prefer them to in-person interactions. 

Remember that Millennials are now well into their 30s and 40s, so when we're talking about "younger" generations, they're fast becoming the majority of your potential customer base, so knowing how to appeal to them is crucial.

So if you want to make sure your business isn't getting left behind, now is the time to look at your digital strategy and see how digitalisation services could help you cut costs, improve processes and even get you more customers. 

Edge of the Web provide dedicated digitalisation consulting services, and can provide you with the latest digitalisation technologies to help your organisation become more competitive, more flexible and more appealing to your clients. If you want to find out more, get in touch today.