What is Digitization?

Digitization refers to the process of converting information from a physical into a digital form. If something is digital, it has been recorded or stored as data using a series of numbers 1 and 0. In this context, “digital form” or “digital format” means the same as “electronic form” or “electronic format.”

Examples of digitization include transforming handwritten letters, printed photographs, paper books, and paper documents into digital formats so that they can be stored, accessed, and shared electronically.

Converting analog recordings of sound and video into digital formats is another example.

Wikipedia.com has the following definition of the term:

“Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format. The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document, or signal (usually an analog signal) obtained by generating a series of numbers that describe a discrete set of points or samples.”

Why is digitization important?

It makes information much easier to store, access, and distribute. Unlike physical formats that can catch fire, get wet, and become damaged in many other ways, digital information can last forever if you store it properly and back it up.

You can share things in digital form with others across the globe in seconds. If you are in the US and want to send a digital photograph to a friend in Pakistan, you can do so instantly. An image that is printed on paper would need to be posted by traditional mail or courier and would take several days to get to its destination.


This speed of transmission and access has significant implications for education. Thanks to digitization, today there is a vast array of educational resources readily available to teachers and students alike, regardless of where they are.

A learning center based in New York that offers online courses is accessible to Americans, Britons, Pakistanis, and Australians alike. They have access as long as they have an online computer or tablet.

Converting texts printed on paper into electronic form - digitization.
Image created by Market Business News.

If you are not a native speaker of English and need to read a digital document published by Harvard University in the US, you can quickly convert the text into your native language without having to pay anything.

If your text were printed on paper, getting it translated into your language would take much longer. It would probably cost you money as well.

Benefits of digitization

Here is a list outlining the primary advantages of digitization. Note that when comparative terms such as “easier,” “faster,” and “greater” are used, they are meant to highlight the improvements over traditional, non-digital methods of storing, utilizing, and disseminating information:

  • Accessibility

Files can be accessed from anywhere, at any time.

  • Preservation

It is easier to preserve documents and media.

  • Storage Efficiency

Storage takes up less physical space and can be expanded easily.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Storing, accessing, transmitting, and sharing digital data is cheaper.

  • Searchability

Searching and retrieving information is much faster.

  • Sharing Capability

It is possible to share documents, photos, music, and other files instantly with multiple people across different locations.

  • Disaster Recovery

Digital data can be backed up and protected from natural disasters.

  • Environmental Impact

Digitization means that we don’t need to cut down trees to store data.

  • Integration

Digital data can be integrated with other digital systems, streamlining workflows and processes.

  • Data Analytics

We can gather and analyze vast quantities of data, which help us gain insights and improve decision-making.

  • Security

Digital documents can be encrypted, password-protected, and securely managed. However, you must ensure that this is done properly.

You can scale up to accommodate growth much more easily.

  • Collaboration

Multiple users, regardless of where they are, can work on the same document in real time.

You can customize and manipulate data in ways that was not possible before.

Digitization vs. digitalization

The terms “digitization” and “digitalization” may look similar, but their meanings are different:

  • Digitization

Refers to converting information into digital (electronic) format.
Example: Scanning a paper document to create a PDF file.

  • Digitalization

This term refers to using digital data to transform systems or processes, enhancing efficiency and value.
Example: Implementing a digital document management system to automate and streamline workflow, reducing paper use and improving efficiency.


Digitization has reshaped how we access, share, and preserve information. It bridges gaps between cultures, makes knowledge/information available to everybody, and opens up new possibilities for education.