Digitization, Digitalization and Digital Transformation Explained

The megatrend of digitalization is one of the main topics at drupa 2024. But do you know the difference between digitization, digitalization and digital transformation? Let us explain the symbiotic relationship between these buzzwords.

Looking back, the music sector was the first among other industries to have been digitized. In a blink of an eye, we moved away from owning physical cassettes and CDs to owning songs individually and digitally via music streaming services, for instance, iTunes or Spotify. Technologies have boomed at an exponential rate and have grown to us in an unprecedented way. As a result, consumer behaviour has changed drastically and it is up to enterprises to make products and services available anywhere and at any time, and thus digital transformation is inevitable, also in the printing industry.

From Digitization to Digitalization

Nowadays, terms, such as digitization and digitalization, are often used interchangeably. What’s the difference between digitization and digitalization? If one converts analogue information into digital, then one has digitized the paper-based information, e.g. transforming a handwritten text into digital form. In the case of digitalization, one must implement technologies into processes that have been done manually so far. With reference to it, automation of workflow is a common aspect of digitalization whereby the process efficiency is increased. To get a better understanding, one can imagine a print worker using computer-controlled equipment to control the quality of printed products instead of doing it individually and manually. As a result of digitalization, work roles might be shifted. To put it simply, digitization is the first step and digitalization is the second step to getting closer to a digital transformation.

Why Digital Transformation Matters

Some businesses believe mistakenly to have already transformed digitally. The adjective “digital“ seems to be misleading. Under digital transformation, one understands the business transformation process as a whole: more complex than at first glance. In other words, the organizational processes of the company system are optimized via technological implementation. Think of technologies as an extension of the human body which has a supportive role during the transformation. To undergo a successful digital transformation, many aspects must be considered, for instance areas with potential for improvement must be analyzed in advance, and professionals with a knowledge of business, IT and technologies are needed in the enterprise to guide the company towards a digital transformation. Furthermore, enterprises must redefine customer value proposition with ongoing changing consumer patterns. To put it in another way, businesses are supposed to be quick to unlock the potential of an underserved market segment in order to succeed in a competitive market. So as to create a new business model, companies must have a customer-centric approach and make the best out of technologies, and hence a digital transformation strategy is essential to meet customer demands in this day and age, especially in the printing industry where large volumes are produced.

Leading IT analyst Jason Bloomberg sums up the phenomenon for Forbes:

“In the final analysis, therefore, we digitize information, we digitalize processes and roles that make up the operations of a business, and we digitally transform the business and its strategy. Each one is necessary but not sufficient for the next, and most importantly, digitization and digitalization are essentially about technology, but digital transformation is not. Digital transformation is about the customer.“

Are you prepared for a digital transformation? At the upcoming drupa 2024, you will not only discover the megatrends in the industry but you will also be enriched with the technical know-how from fellow industry professionals.

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