The great digitising vs digitalising debate, and why every business should care

Digitising. Digitalising. Two very similar words. Yet two very different meanings. Here, we dive into the semantics and explore why every business on the path to digital transformation should care about the difference between the two.

First, let’s get the basic definitions out of the way. To digitise something, you turn it from an analogue thing into a digital thing. Scanning a business document is a great example here. You’re simply turning a piece of paper into a bits-and-bytes version of itself. Nothing else changes.

To digitalise something, on the other hand, you’re adding a powerful new layer of potential to an already-digitised object. That business document you’ve scanned? Digitalisation could take the data in the document and use it to inform a mission-critical business decision.

You need to digitise before you can digitalise

Digitisation is the precursor to digitalisation. If you’re starting out from scratch, you’ll need to go out and buy that scanner, sort out some cloud storage, and get cracking (coffee will help here). Of course, most businesses today wouldn’t be starting from scratch – it’s likely you’ve already modernised and digitised many aspects of your business, including your systems of record and systems of engagement (for example, with tools like a CRM or ERP platform). 

But you might find there are some contracts and agreements floating around your business that are still paper-based. In fact, systems of agreement are often the last to be digitised. If you want to reap the benefits of digitalisation, hunt down any paperwork or data that is still analogue, and digitise it. Then, you’re ready for action.  

Digitalisation is about true transformation

Digitalisation uses advanced digital technologies to analyse and act upon all the data you’ve digitised, plus new sources of data coming from modern tools like the Internet of Things. Going back to the system of agreement, let’s look at how digitalisation can radically transform how you handle the agreement process within your business.

Instead of manually sending out contracts and agreements for signing, waiting for them to come back, then shooting off to various departments for review (and, often, rerouting to fix errors), imagine if the process was automated and intelligent. That is, the digitalised system does all the work for you – seamlessly and securely.

This is all possible right now with Docusign Agreement Cloud. But it gets even more exciting, as we explore in this whitepaper on the rise of modern systems of agreement, when you factor in new possibilities like AI and blockchain. For example, AI could be used to look beyond the bits and bytes in a document to infer higher-level concepts, like contract clauses, and apply specific business logic based on those concepts. Or what about smart contracts? These are documents that automatically execute agreement terms – for example, making a crop-insurance payout when the weather exceeds 30 degrees in Spring. 

These are just some examples of the potential that digitalisation delivers. The leading businesses out there are embracing this potential and reaping rewards in the shape of cost savings, productivity gains, and a competitive edge. 

Are you ready to get started or go further on your quest to become a digitalised business? Get in touch today to learn how easy it is to digitalise your agreement process.