It’s clear that businesses have rapidly adopted digital technology due to COVID-19, to help them better weather the disruptions from COVID-19. But what is it about digital businesses that allows them to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape? Here we take a look at the differences between digitisation and digitalisation – and how it’s digitalisation that enables businesses to grow in uncertain times.
What is digitisation?
Digitisation is the creation of digital files and processes that reflect their analogue origins. For instance, digitisation could be scanning old printed photographs and saving them to a hard drive to store in the office for later use.
Digitisation is a methodology based on ‘knowns’ and is founded in industrialised thinking, which aims to scale current business output.
What is digitalisation?
Digitalisation is the act of leveraging digitisation to improve processes overall. A simple example would be taking the scans of old printed photographs and uploading them to a cloud drive, like Dropbox or G-Suite, to be accessed and shared from anywhere at any time.
Digitalisation is synonymous with the information age, where automation and machine learning help to tell us what business strategies we should adopt next based on live data.
To be agile in business, that is to be perceptive and proactive to change, requires a good understanding of how to digitalise key aspects of your business. The first step is indeed digitisation – making sure as many business operations are conducted digitally, from banking online to corresponding via email to filing on cloud software. The second and crucial step is discovering what automation tools exist to optimise your business offering and promotional efforts.
A good example of digitalisation is utilising email software like Salesforce, Hubspot or Mailchimp to set up your email marketing. Services like these not only reach out to your customers in bulk, but allow you to see how they engage with your content and products. You are able to assess how many opens and clicks you receive and even sales generated from your emails.
If you segment your audience carefully – this could be by their location, age or interests, for example – you can create dynamic content that speaks to each segment in a more targeted way. So for example, people living in a particular region can be notified when there’s a new store opening in their area.
With more data, personalisation can be introduced, where customers are served emails based on their purchase and browsing history. Some of this may be suggestive, like offering new parents baby products that suit the age of their child as they grow up.
Then, you can analyse how the marketing messages are interacted with to determine what products you may want to introduce in the future. In this way, you are learning about market trends and customer needs based on live data, rather than on customer research or what’s worked in the past.
How Square can help you with digitalisation
Square is a digital company created to help other businesses digitalise. Square’s tools help businesses not only improve their efficiency but set them up to learn more about their customers and identify opportunities for future endeavors.
Square Online allows you to set up retail store or restaurant functionality so you can digitise your in-person operations or go online, or do both. You can build a website, or just start selling from your Instagram page, and sync your online and brick-and-mortar inventory.
Square Virtual Terminal
Square Virtual Terminal is a platform that easily lets you take payments on a web browser, and is linked to your business bank account. You can add hardware like a Square Reader, where customers tap their cards and payment is taken straight away. As you sell, you’re able to track your revenue in real time.
Square Invoices is a smoother way to manage digital invoicing with your customers. You can send quotes and invoices and set up automated payment reminders to get paid sooner. You can also see progress reports to track your cash flow, helping inform timing on larger purchases, for instance.
Square App Marketplace
Square App Marketplace is a great way to link up your digital channels so that they integrate, or seamlessly share data. Plug in Mailchimp to create marketing automations with data collected through Square Online, or if you already have a Wix website, you can connect Virtual Terminal to take your payments.
Square’s Xero Integration is a great way to connect your Xero software to your sales activity. Xero is a powerful accounting platform through which you can analyse your business profitability as well as your cash flow.
To count your business among the success stories within an increasingly uncertain economic environment, digitalisation is an essential strategy. Tech tales have told us that it’s not enough to digitise operations, but it’s learning from live data that differentiates one company’s ability to pivot and thrive from the next.