Digitization is the conversion of different types of data or information into binary codes. With the need for automation, intervention and support from machines increasing day by day, digitization is the means to achieve streamlined operating procedures that allow human-machine cooperation.

A simple example of digitization can be the transition from analog cassette tapes to digital compact discs. Cassettes hold data in reels of magnetized tape spooled together, while the data on CDs are etched using lasers in the binary form of pits (0) and flats (1). Digital data is more indexable, referenceable, replicable, accessible, and manageable. That is also the reason we can repeatedly access favorite tracks separately without having to buzz back and forth, winding, and unwinding the magnetic spool of a cassette tape.

In the manufacturing world, converting a unit of data such as a measurement from a manual or mechanical reading to electronic format is considered digitization.

Difference Between Digitization And Digitalization

The terms digitization and digitalization are often used synonymously but they do not mean the same thing. Digitization is the process of converting analog or non-digital data into its binary counterpart. Digitalization is the process of harvesting digitized data to effectively transform and improve business conduct. Digitalization can be used to identify and create fresher monetization avenues. In essence, digitization is the process that equips non-digital data for the process of digitalization.

For instance, a log register containing pages of data relevant to the history of equipment can only be effectively utilized for analysis when digitized.

Advantages Of Digitization

Digitization is the first step towards digital transformation. By itself, it has several advantages, both inside and outside the IT world. A cabinet filing system filled with folders may have its utility in the workspace, but it certainly falls short in a number of other areas. Let us take a look at a few advantages of digitization:

Ease Of Access

Digitized data is not constrained by issues of physical proximity. Cloud servers enable access to files regardless of distance. This can lessen the reliance of having to carry paper files around, which can be easily lost or corrupted by something as innocent as a coffee spill.

Time Efficiency

Sorting and searching through the drawers of a cabinet looking for a missing file can waste time. Tracking and accessing digitized data can be done quickly and efficiently. Even the mobility of digital information regardless of the volumes can be done quickly compared to physical data. Digital information can be transported with ease and efficiency, regardless of the size, compared to physical data.

Improved Security

Digitized data security is stronger than a knob and latch assembly of a filing cabinet. While it may have its challenges, biometry, passcodes, and cybersecurity programs are not likely to be breached by hairpins and paper clips. New age technology like Blockchain combined with cutting edge encryption like RSA or TripleDES can deliver unparalleled security.

Environmentally Friendly

Physical printing can be very costly and requires maintenance of printers and the cost of space. Digitized data not only mitigate these additional costs but also eliminates the need for paper. A Smartphone with 128GB of memory can store the same amount of data that would require 125 tons of paper.

Better Sustainability And Backup

Generally, information documented on paper is degradable. The more they are accessed, the quicker they degrade. It is ideal to have a digital copy of all business-related documents that require continual referencing. While coffee stained paperwork may compliment the antique filing cabinet, it does not add value to the operations of a business. It is also worthy to note that paper can produce mold and harbor unwelcome cockroaches.

Challenges Of Digitization

Organizations are usually multi-layered with varying levels of interdependencies. The digitization process at an organizational level will likely encounter a few hurdles along the way. Several factors can create challenges in the digitization exercise. Let us take a look at a few.

Budgetary Constraints

Digitizing at an organizational level calls for a decent investment in infrastructure. Equipment and software will also require periodic maintenance and updates. These expenses vary and may be steep depending on the nature and size of the business.

Workforce Resistance

Employees are not always receptive to changes. Digitization along with digitalization and digital transformation is likely to completely revamp the work environment and the way business is transacted. Employees accustomed to routines might find the new operating procedures to be less convenient. Compulsory prescription of new skill sets and honing of existing capabilities is likely to cause resistance to change.

Workforce Upskilling

Employees are the building blocks of any organization. Hiring new resources relevant to changing times may not always be a budget-friendly solution. Upskilling of existing employees can help ease the transition. Training sessions, seminars, and workshops along related lines of operation can go a long way in helping employees adapt to their evolving surroundings. But training like all strategic initiatives needs buy-in from all stakeholders, investments in time, money, and continual improvement for it to result in measurable benefits.