The importance of digitalization

By Chakib Abi-Saab, Chief Digital Officer, Bumi Armada Sdn Bhd

Whether you are in Information technology or not, I am confident that most of you have heard the term “digitalization”. Unfortunately not everyone is talking the same language when we use that concept. In this article, when I say digitalization, I am referring to the process by which organizations move from the typical analog to digital processes.

There are many reasons why companies are making this change, some are moving because they need to gain speed and agility, others are moving because they want to save cost, others are moving because they want a global reach, etc. In short, digitalizing your organization can give you a competitive advantage by doing things better, faster, and cheaper than your competition.


Some quick gains organizations are discovering as the result of digitalizing:


•Improve the efficiency of business processes, consistency, and quality worldwide.
•Integrating a conventional digitized records system.
•Improve accessibility and facilitate better information exchange worldwide
•Increase response time and customer service anywhere in the world
•Reduce costs
•Ability to take advantage of analytics
•Help with the flexibility of staff
•Improvement plan for business continuity

Digitalise your business and reach the world

By changing processes from analog to digital, many organizations are no longer limited to geographical boundaries. If you want to have a global reach however, it is important to do it right the first time; therefore, I recommend that you properly understand what you want to achieve, and then plan and manage your digitization programs properly.


Digitization helps your business grow at a fraction of the cost. A proper digitalization plan can help reinvent processes, improve quality and promote consistency.


So then we can say that if an organization adopts today’s digital technologies, it will enable decision makers to have access to all the information they need all the time, from anywhere, and from any device they choose.


The question is: With all these advantages, why are we not seeing all organizations moving to a fully digital environment? The answer, as ironic as it sounds, is CIOs. The challenge with many CIOs today is that they either lack understanding of their business to identify technologies that will create a competitive advantages, or they lack the management/leadership communication skills to present to the decision makers in ways they will understand.


This failure is critical because without understanding the benefits in terms of efficiencies and cost savings, CEOs will see the IT implementations as cost and therefore will want to “cut costs”.

If you are a decision maker in an organization, it is important that you understand that digitization offers an opportunity to integrate business records in digital form accessible by anyone you need.


Many businesses still work partly on stationary, which not only is expensive, but also makes your organization lose very valuable information that you could digitalize and mine to obtain trends that could translate into knowledgeable decisions.


When all your information is in digital form, your ability to secure your organization’s knowledge drastically increases because you can manage access and level or rights and security for each user, no matter where in the world they are, and you can change it as needed. Most digital storage technologies of today also have audit trails which give you the ability to see who did what to each file, and giving you access to older versions if needed; thus, preserving your organization’s valuable lesson learns and knowledge.


Adopting today’s technologies is no longer optional, the businesses with the best technologies will win because they will have agility and cost efficiencies that others can not have.  If you are a CEO, it is important that you have the right people in place to enable your organization. If you are a CIO, it is important that you understand the new paradigm because CIOs who will not change will be replaced, or will see their organizations disappear.


The time for digitalization is now.






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