Digitization vs. Digital Transformation

Kiefer Consulting has a long history of helping clients leverage technology to meet the growing demands of modern business. While transformation presents opportunities for improved efficiencies, organizations may not fully understand what may be required in a digital business transformation initiative. Digital transformation requires that organizations change their collective mindset and recognize the benefits of introducing new technology, adapting legacy processes, and challenging the status quo. In addition, the culture of digital transformation must be embraced at the C-level. Leadership must then advocate for change and create a company-wide mindset that continuously looks at how the organization operates and seeks to find ways to leverage technology to improve processes.

An app to support digital transformation

In September of this year, Kiefer introduced the Kiefer Telework App. This app was designed to streamline the process of enabling telework and provided departments with a practical and robust solution to facilitate the completion of the State of California’s Standard Form 200 (STD 200), the form state employees must complete to work remotely. The solution addresses many facets of enabling telework, and it addresses downstream needs. The solution can help in making it easier for departments to extract data from telework agreements and comply with the mandatory reporting requirements outlined by the California Department of General Services (DGS).

Digital transformation or a digitization?

In conversations with departments across the state, we found that some departments had already applied technology to solve this business challenge associated with STD 200. The sophistication of the solutions varied by department, but we commonly observed, was that many departments simply distributed fillable PDF versions of STD 200. The improvements that these departments made were not transformative, they simply replaced a physical form with a digitized version of the form.

What we often see is that digitization doesn’t fully address the full-breadth of the problem and these solutions often underdeliver in the eyes of users. This is damaging to the enterprise digital transformation strategy and can undermine future digital transformation efforts. 

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If a department simply takes a paper form and enables users to fill out the form electronically, the department has only streamlined one aspect of the process. The user doesn’t have to scan the document. However, that document now needs to be reviewed and signed. Users will now have to manually attach files to e-mail. The process is “facilitated” by technology, but the process lacks the automation, notifications, routing, and the archiving of the document.

The digital transformation approach

Low-code and citizen-developed software solutions can bring improvement to a process, but it is important to clearly understand the business challenge, the user experience, and the implications of applying technology to address a business challenge. This is a main area of focus when we are gathering requirements in the Initiation and Planning phases of a digital transformation project.

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Digital transformation can help organizations save time, money, and allow staff to focus energy on more important initiatives. And, while processes may not have to be reengineered from end-to-end, it is important to recognize the impact of technology when applying it to improve a process.

Does the use of technology deliver results that help in promoting the value of digital transformation as a larger idea? If it doesn’t, and users are still stuck in manual processes that use technology but fail to bring real improvement, you may have more work to do.


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