Digitization vs digital transformation, what do marketing people need to know

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“What would your business look like if you started it today?” asked Tom Goodwin, the executive vice-president and head of innovation at Zenith USA, in a recent article. The answer would most likely differ from what your business looks like at the moment – begging the question – why?

Goodwin attributes the discrepancy to digitization and digital transformation. While many businesses don’t view them as entirely different processes, they are and impact how a business is run in today’s digital age.

“While digitalization is short-term fixes, digital transformation is rethinking everything to set-up businesses for future growth,” said Goodwin.

He explained that companies that have been in business for awhile look to digitization to fix problems while companies that are starting today use digital transformation to craft their foundation.

“When you look at most businesses the problems go to the very core of a company. They may have an extremely solid and valuable brand but are running on central technology so old and so poorly understood that nobody dare touch it, let alone replace it. A legacy of patches, workarounds, middle ware, and fixes that just about work on a good day,” explained Goodwin.

In this era of innovation, existing companies must ask themselves these three questions:

  1. Digitalization Vs. Digital Transformation

“Digital transformation is to rethink everything in a business around the possibilities and behaviors that new technology makes possible. Hotels have now been entirely rethought around the culture of Instagram, fast-food restaurants that have all workflows and interior design built around the need to deliver to customers efficiently or allow them to order ahead via an app,” said Goodwin. It’s about finding what your customer needs and bringing it to them – connecting engagement to demand.

  1. Understanding Customer Expectations

“If we can see an Uber’s location in real time, we don’t accept a four-hour window for a repair person. If we’ve never waited online to pay for items, we won’t accept queues in-store. If we can text our contents insurance provider, we find it out of place when our bank makes us fax something. Technology changes our behaviors and expectations across all categories, we have to work to what people expect, not to what we can most easily achieve,” explained Goodwin.

What technologies can you introduce to provide customers with a better experience?

“Not every industry in the world is going to change fast but waves of change are coming from mobile devices, new security protocols, new business models, and companies that exploit the new and lax regulation,” said Goodwin.

“Make the smallest changes you need to do to stay relevant, cut costs and hope for the best, or understand what’s coming, invest in the latest thinking and technology and propel yourself into the future,” is his advice.


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