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Under the Hood - All things PDM and PLM

Digital Transformation: What is it and How do I Start?

Alexandra Maraldo
December 17, 2021

“Digital Transformation” is a popular term lately. The impact of the global pandemic has forced companies to adapt quickly, which exposed what were previously considered minor inconveniences to be major system flaws. The push to digitize has prompted many companies to build in digital transformation initiatives into their strategies for the upcoming year, but what does that even really mean? There are probably as many definitions of digital transformation as there are people you ask to define it. Luckily, there are a few common themes that appear in most definitions.

Digital Transformation 101: Going Paperless

This is a pretty basic, and widely indisputable part of digital transformation. If a company moves towards digital, they inevitably become paperless. Most companies are already moving away from physical forms and documents in favor of digital files. On top of being more environmentally friendly, it helps with version and revision control in addition to simply making it easier to find the file you’re looking for. It’s much easier to misplace a piece of paper than to lose a digital file since you can’t use the search function on your desk the way you can on your desktop.

Centralizing Data

Another standard pillar of digital transformation is making sure all of your data is in one place. Ensuring there aren’t several versions of a document in circulation can prevent confusion and costly errors caused by using outdated documents. Bringing all your data into a central repository also helps to combat the impact of tribal knowledge. This, in turn, speeds up processes including revisions, approvals, and even employee onboarding, among others. Moving away from having files live natively on employee’s desktops or in emails and towards a centralized repository is a fundamental step in increasing collaboration and efficiency across the enterprise.

Moving to the Cloud

Even if it’s centralized, your data isn’t much use if the people who need it can’t get to it. You want to make sure everyone has easy access to the information they need. The easiest way to do this is by centralizing on a secure cloud platform. The cloud has become almost synonymous with digital transformation, since the two often go hand in hand. With a couple clicks and a unique login, employees should be able to access all the information they need to do their jobs. This is, by definition, how cloud platforms work. Additionally, the use of a cloud native system allows you to invite external stakeholders, such as suppliers, into your ecosystem. Granting them access to the information that they need and reducing bottlenecks can make your working relationship much smoother.

Digital Transformation is a Journey

Above all, it is important to note that digital transformation is a process. It’s not a “one and done” event and doesn’t have to be a massive “rip and replace” style undertaking. You’ve probably already taken the first steps, whether big or small, if you’re reading this. You can see the benefit digitizing your systems and processes can make to your business. If you’re interested in how you can take the next steps, or to learn more about what digital transformation means, join our live webinar “Demystifying Digital Transformation” on January 13.

Alexandra Maraldo

Alex is a marketing manager at Autodesk specialising in PLM and PDM solutions.