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What is digitization?

We’re in the digital age, but what about all the analog relics we’ve left behind?

A person designing a business logo using Dropbox

What’s the definition of digitization?

Digitization is the process of taking analog processes and physical objects, and making them digital. Think about how scanning paper documents or using cloud storage to save all your important files eliminates the need for clunky filing cabinets. All those things that were once very much offline and on paper are now able to be completely digital thanks to digitization and far more efficient digital technologies. Digitalization, though similar sounding, is a term used to describe the overall process of going digital, like moving your business’ marketing plan into a more digital future.

Why should I use digitization?

There are plenty of reasons to go digital, the least of which is because most people have already made the shift. You may have noticed that your bank is giving you the option of paperless statements, or that your energy company is moving towards digital bills. You can certainly opt for the old ways, but society, generally, is embracing a digitized future so it’s in your best interests to keep up. Brands and households everywhere are going through a digital transformation, whole business models are based on digital, and for good reason, here are just some of the benefits:

Access to your documents from any device

No more worrying about forgetting an important letter at home, or not emailing the scan to yourself. Save your documents online with Dropbox and you can access them from anywhere. You can access your Dropbox account via phone, PC or tablet, and get your hands on your much-needed documents. And even if you’re offline, you can still keep working on them.

It makes sharing documents easy

Just think of social media and how uploading an image instantly makes it available to everyone who might want a copy—that’s the embodiment of successfully digitizing documents. Gone are the days when you would have to pay for a copy of a photo. Then pay again for a duplicate to give a friend. With documents in a digital format, things are easy to share, edit, and collaborate on.

It’s more environmentally and pocket-friendly

With everything online, printers will become more and more obsolete. That means no wasted paper printing out non-essential documents, or throwing away sheets due to a fuzzy printout. Plus, that only stands to save you and your business or household money in the long run, after all, printer toner is as pricey as gold per pound.

It’s more secure

You may have a fancy filing cabinet that’s perfectly categorized down to date and time, but what if something were to happen to it or the documents it contains? Be it a house fire, burglar or just a spilled cup of coffee, you shouldn’t rely on a single copy of your critical documents. You should always have a digital backup of everything, including previous photos. PC backup and file backup is simple with Dropbox and when it’s so easy to scan your documents using your phone with Dropbox, there’s no excuse. Plus, with cyber security features providing password protection—where you can set a time limit for how long people can access—there’s no safer way to keep your documents.

Easy organization

You may be the world’s most organized person, but even your best filing system is unlikely to be as efficient as digital. With quick search that can help you find your documents based on file name, Dropbox takes things one step further with OCR (Optical Character Recognition). This clever tech searches within the digitized data of your scanned documents, to recognize words and match them to your search term. So, say you need an electric bill for April 2019, you can search “April 2019” or “04/19” and OCR will find any document that contains this information. Much better than searching through piles of bills by hand.

It’s always available

Need to collaborate with your team or get a signature on a document? No problem. You no longer need to gather the group together to work on a project or arrange a meeting to get pen on paper, you can use electronic signatures and shared documents to get important work done without letting logistics bring a halt to your business processes.

It’s about more than documents

Digitization is about more than just bills, receipts, and contracts. Pretty much anything can be turned digital, and therefore be made much more convenient. Photos, sketches, whiteboard brainstorms, business cards you’re liable to lose, or magazine clippings that fire your inspiration can all be digitally saved and accessible anywhere, any time with just a few taps.

It protects documents from wear and tear

Documents and photos from years gone by will only stand to get older and older, to fade, get damaged, or misplaced. Digitization solutions help transfer this legacy of images and text to safe online locations where they can be backed up so they’ll never be lost.

It is pivotal for customer experience

If you are a small business, or even a large business, your reputation and sense of reliability depends on the quality of your offering. This doesn’t just mean the service or product you are selling, but the standards you have in your admin and correspondence. A paper invoice or snail mail correspondence complete with photocopies is unlikely to do your brand any favors, and makes you appear old fashioned. It also inconveniences your client as they now have reams of paper to carefully store or take the time to send back to you. For customer engagement that assures clients of a pro-active, modern, and efficient company, go digital.

Digitization is the future

New digital solutions have a habit of pushing out their older counterparts and when those solutions arrive, adoption is a lot easier if you are already up to date. Think about the easy transition you made from CDs to music streaming. In the early days there were still allowances for both, with PCs and car stereos offering a smooth transition with CD players and aux-in jacks. Now, you have to go the extra mile to find a CD player, meanwhile an MP3 player is built right into your phone, eBook reader or fitness tracker.

The same goes for digitizing your documents, if you neglect to do so now, you are making life harder for your future self, and there may be no easy or cheap way to bridge the gap between paper documents and digital innovation when the next advancement rolls around.

Going digital

It’s likely that your household and office have already gone digital in a number of areas, from streaming TV to working together on a single online document. It might be worth taking the time to look back on what you haven’t yet safely stored to the cloud, though, as the conversion of analog documents is something many of us are likely to have neglected.

For all files worth saving

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