Digital transformation has been a top priority for companies in recent years, but now many businesses are taking a closer look at the actively evolving concept of digitalization. Although the two terms sound much the same, they actually mean slightly different things and impact businesses and their workflows in different ways.
With that in mind, here’s a brief introduction to digital transformation and digitization along with a look at how digitizing can impact enterprise workflow automation.
What is Digitization?
According to Gartner, digitization is “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.”
Digital transformation, in contrast, is a “broad term that can encompass anything “from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.”
Organizations that choose to digitalize additional aspects of their business will likely find that doing so presents an opportunity to digitize systems. By doing this, they can capitalize on those digitized systems and workflows that already support their operations, which can lead to increased efficiency and productivity.
The pandemic dramatically accelerated digitization in 2020, causing organizations to quickly pivot, adapt, and scale their operations to ensure business continuity during a year of unprecedented global disruption. As businesses rushed to digitalize workflows, they turned to automation to accelerate their transformation.
How Workflow Automation Complements Digitization
Automation and digitization are closely linked. A business that seeks to digitize their workflow can leverage automation to update job roles and transform entire business processes from end to end.
Companies increasingly need to do this because, while early technology improvements saved employees time in their daily work, the amount of rote administrative tasks now required to do the work often undermines productivity. For example, according to a global study, repetitive tasks like data entry and file organization take up valuable time, as much as 60 hours per month per employee. Automating these tasks can give this valuable time back to employees.
Businesses that implement end-to-end process automation can free their employees from the tedium of tending to these administrative duties each day. This enables them to refocus their unique expertise and talents on projects that they find engaging and that the company finds strategically advantageous.
In fact, the aforementioned study found that employees believed automation would help them:
- focus more on their core job function
- increase departmental productivity
- open up opportunities to learn new skills
Digitization can provide stacking benefits, especially when a business uses the time saved from a successful workflow automation project to automate even more processes and functions throughout the company. By doing so, businesses can steadily create even more organizational capacity to innovate and evolve.
Successful Digitization Requires Flexible Automation
To digitize your business successfully, you must use an agile automation method that’s capable of adapting to changes in the environment. Some businesses have used robotic process automation (RPA) to adapt. According to TechTarget, RPA is “a technology that mimics the way humans interact with software to perform repeatable, high-volume tasks.”
For instance, a company may use RPA to create bots that can autonomously fill out forms or transfer information between siloed applications, streamlining rote tasks for their employees in the process. These bots can and do win back precious time for individual employees, allowing them to focus on more rewarding work.
However, RPA has some limitations:
- It can only take on individual tasks
- It can’t automate an end-to-end process across an enterprise
- It’s not flexible enough to adapt when the user interface of a particular application changes
- It requires some ongoing administrative attention from IT, which may partially negate the purpose of the automation in the first place
Low-code workflow automation comes in handy in these situations. Companies can not only replicate a fixed series of steps, but also re-envision an entire business process using a digital-first perspective.
Companies use low-code process automation to automate specific tasks, end-to-end processes across the enterprise, and even complex workflows. Because it’s accessible to technical and non-technical staff alike, low-code process automation also empowers users to collaborate on workflow automation solutions that benefit their teams and the company as a whole.
As Forbes points out, low-code automation has tremendous significance for businesses that urgently need to digitalize at a moment when talented software engineers are in short supply. Organizations that want to digitize can use an all-in-one low-code platform to:
- automate end-to-end business processes
- increase operational gains
- modernize core systems
- enhance customer engagement
- drive organizational agility
Digitizing Workflow Automation in Action: Zurich Insurance
Zurich Insurance’s 700 underwriters are responsible for creating policies for their clients. When a policy needs updating, underwriters have to begin a manual process to do so, meaning the task can take hours to complete. Whenever underwriters are able to find a digital workaround, it leads to increased business risk because of the lack of data validation.
Using low-code, Zurich created a new app that automates much of the process. Now when underwriters need to update a policy, they can do so quickly. This digital workflow automation decreases the amount of time needed to update policies by 90%. Zurich also saves 280K GBP in operational efficiency.
Digitize through Automation and Transform Your Business
Although digital transformation has been a buzzword for quite some time, many businesses are currently turning to digitalization to evolve their processes and workflows. By digitalizing workflow automation, a company can move beyond simply modernizing specific technologies or tasks and even update its business model or identify new opportunities for growth.
When a business digitizes using low-code process automation that facilitates internal collaboration and enables a digital-first perspective, it can increase its capacity for innovation and gain a competitive edge in the digital age. For more information on how your organization can digitize its processes, contact us or explore the “The CIO’s Guide to Successful Process Automation.”