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Digitalise BDS

To fully benefit from the advantages of using online platforms and tools, small business coaches, mentors, advisors, consultants and trainers need to go beyond the mere “digitisation” of their service delivery.

Coaches, mentors, advisors, consultants, trainers… everyone supporting small businesses had to adjust to the realities of a restricted work environment during the Covid-19 pandemic; and now that the restrictions are somewhat less intrusive, the expectation is that the new ways of engaging during the lockdown, will continue.

The Business Development Services (BDS) sector is, like every industry, faced with questions on how to optimise the use of online tools and how to benefit from the automation of business processes — more so now in the post-lockdown era than the time before the pandemic.

The big shift in the way we do business — including in BDS — may have been the use of online meetings. It is safe to say that is now the norm and is here to stay as a convenient and efficient way of connecting with others. However, online meetings are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Digitalisation of BDS goes much deeper than just the use of digital platforms that simply replace business processes that previously were done in a different format.



In aiming to understand the extent of the unfolding change in the way BDS may be delivered, we need to distinguish between the concepts of “digitise” and “digitalise”.

“Digitisation” is simply the process of con­vert­ing in­for­ma­tion from a phys­i­cal into a dig­i­tal format. For example, you may scan a signed contract, converts it to a PDF file, and then saves this PDF to your computer. This entails the conversion of the physical document into a digital format and saving it for future use, but essentially the business process of signing and filing contracts has not changed. It is just the format of the document that changed from a hard copy to a digital copy.

There are clear advantages with digisation, but the benefit of digital tools goes much further. This is where “digitalisation” comes into play. 

“Digitalisation” is the process of utilising digi­ti­sa­tion to im­prove busi­ness processes. It goes beyond just changing the format of items to also changing the way it is done so that efficiency and productivity are improved. For example, you may sign a contract with a digital signature and enter the contract details on the company document registry, which automates saving it as a PDF on the shared company drive and sending a notice to assigned staff. 

You can clearly see from the above examples that digitisation offers many advantages above mere digitalisation.


WHAT: CPD Webinar

TOPIC: Using online tools to deliver business support & training

WHEN: Thursday 20 January 2022

TIME: 11h30 to 13h00



In the BDS sector we are able to adopt more productive ways of doing by digitalising our work processes like marketing, service delivery and administration. All of our business processes may benefit from digitalisation. 

However, as we have seen with the impact of the pandemic, some processes are more suitable or easier to adjust than others. For instance, shifting to online meetings was essential to maintain contact with business associates and in delivering services such as consulting, coaching and training of our clients.

But are these changes limited to “digisation”? Or have we been able to get the full benefit of “digitalisation”?

In the upcoming episode of the SEDA, IBASA & EPI Webinar Series for small business support practitioners I will look into the digitalisation of BDS along with webinar host  Thobeka Poswa and panelist from IBASA and SEDA. We’ll reflect on practical learnings from making shifts into digital delivery platforms and how practitioners may apply this to their own contexts.


  • To join the upcoming CPD webinar you can << REGISTER HERE >>.
  • By attending this episode of the SEDA, IBASA and EPI Small Business Development Practitioner Webinar Series, you will earn credits to count towards your CPD requirements.
  • Christoff Oosthuysen is the webinar host, Founding CEO of the Entrepreneurial Planning Institute (EPI) and General Partner at Seed South Capital.

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