We have defined digitization and now understand what it means in theory, but what does it actually mean for you and me? It is not some futuristic intangible.  You are likely benefiting from digitization right now, and you might not even realize it!  

Let’s consider some examples of digitization in practice. 

1. The most obvious one starts with the device on which you are reading this post. Before digitization, we would have printed this write-up on paper and mailed it to you. Now, once you subscribe to our blog, you can receive this content electronically by email. Everyone can agree this digital means of communication makes receiving and absorbing information much more immediate and convenient.  

2. Remember the paper boarding pass? In 100 years of aviation, it evolved from a handwritten paper tag issued at the airport check-in desk to an electronic ticket in the 21st century. Then, a new technology by way of a barcode replaced a more expensive magnetic strip allowing passengers to check-in online and print their boarding pass at home. Today, boarding passes are sent to a mobile device, and that digital version is machine-readable. Soon biometric screening will be commonplace, accelerating boarding and more importantly improving security for all passengers.   

3. Only in the last decade has a trip to the Emergency Room begun to digitize. For example, not long ago, a suspected fracture would require x-ray images captured on a physical plate to be rushed to image technicians who would develop the x-ray image onto a film before delivery to the medical staff for interpretation. Today, it is increasingly likely that the x-ray image is processed digitally at the radiographer’s workstation, providing accurate and instantaneous results. Of course, this saves expense in terms of materials and time – appreciated by the hospital and the patient.

With digitization in place, future enhancements can be layered on top creating further savings and improving outcomes. For example, we are seeing hospitals trial software that can offer a doctor preliminary medical diagnoses based on the library of similar digital images the computer has previously captured.

These three examples just begin to scratch the tip of the digitization iceberg. The list is vast and includes much more complex examples that we might not even realize are working behind the scenes to benefit our day-to-day lives, which we will cover in a future post.  Still, we can look to these use cases to understand why digitization is so important and life-changing. Further, the story of IT evolution in communication, aviation, and radiography should and will be a model for all sorts of industries and businesses, many of which are ready for this kind of digital transformation, improving the experience, enhancing security, and reducing costs.