4800, the number of SMEs McKinsey surveyed across different industries to analyze the impact of web technologies on business. The results? A revelation that companies using web technologies like websites and social media marketing not only grow twice as fast as those with minimal online presence, but also bring in twice as much revenue and create twice as many employment opportunities. It’s no wonder then, why everyone wants to go digital. But as every company in Kenya rushes to digitize their processes and adapt digital marketing strategies, I think the first step is to understand what digital means.
The Difference between Digital and Informational Technology (I.T)
Digital and I.T are terms often used interchangeably. However, there is a big difference between the functions of each. As a digital marketing professional, I don’t set up firewalls, data centres or fix laptops, but I create experiences that nurture trust and influence buying decisions.
So let’s clarify in laymen’s terms the difference between digital and IT
What is Information Technology (I.T)?
When you think of I.T, think of ‘back office’ functions using technology –the things that make it possible for you to send an email or log on to your favourite website. It’s like an engine for the business.
I.T, therefore, includes such tasks as;
- Antivirus & Cybersecurity
- Installing programs and software
- Computer networks and hosting
- Computer and smartphone provisioning by your IT department.
- Programming languages
- Setting up and managing mail accounts.
What is Digital?
If I.T is the engine driving the business, then digital is the experience of driving it- the front office.
Simply put, digital is the activity you do with I.T and is more about the overall experience and getting a return on the investment for the technology. For example, hosting services let you store your website files, so that when visitors Google your domain name, they can find your website and eventually convert to customers. If the hosting is not reliable, affecting your website loading speed, visitors will bounce off your website, and no one will buy. Digital is therefore focused on generating revenue on digital channels and creating a great customer experience with your brand. Digital includes functions such as:
- Social media
- Digital marketing.
- Mobile web and apps.
- Email marketing.
- Website design and development
Similarities between Digital and I.T
Digital and IT may appear as entirely different beasts, but they need each other to achieve a goal. Point in case, there’s no use having all the disk space in the world if your website doesn’t get any visitors because it takes several aeons to load.
Digital and IT both consist of software, hardware & data. I.T makes sure all the software works so the digital marketing people can do their jobs efficiently. However just because someone has digital skills does not make them IT savvy; the opposite is also true.
As Kenyan CEOs push forward with their digital agendas for 2018, I think it’s worth taking a break to sharpen language and clarify vocabulary. After all, it is only after understanding what digital or IT is and what it means to business that business leaders can leverage both IT and digital to develop meaningful strategies and drive business performance.