Digital has been on the company board meeting agenda for some time, with the phrase “Digital Transformation” being banded about to looks of surprise, confusion, and optimism.
But what is digital transformation, really?
First of all, we should all stop saying “Digital Transformation”. It has become the most overused buzz phrase in recent years. It’s also a very dangerous phrase, as it creates grand visions of digital being the next silver bullet for business growth with an astronomical amount of time and budget being required to “transform”.
Today it’s all about becoming a digitally-enabled business.
This can mean different things to different people and completely depends upon where your organisation is on its digital journey and your position within it.
It is about adapting your business model to embrace the paradigm shift of a connected society that is enabled by modern technologies such as cloud computing, open data, social media, and mobility.
It starts with your customers, understanding what they need and how they interact, and delighting them with innovative, connected digital experiences that drive brand awareness and loyalty.
But becoming digitally-enabled is not just about the customer experience and the latest technology. It’s about creating a digital eco-system around your customer that transforms how you do business and affects every task, activity, and process within every department.
It’s about empowering your enterprise and your employees and partners with line-of-business tools that integrate into your customer experience and interface to your existing IT investments, allowing them to make data-driven decisions.
It’s about creating a culture of digital that attracts and retains the best digital talent with cross-group collaboration, digital innovation labs, and workspaces that instill digital across your business to bring your marketing and IT teams together.
It’s about improving your ability to deliver digital with a cross-functional delivery capability and tailored agile methods that allow you to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time.
This may all sound incredibly straight-forward, so why all the buzz around “digital transformation” and why aren’t we all just getting on with it?
Fundamentally it boils down to the cat-in-the-headlights look when someone utters that phrase and the head-in-the-sand view that is far too often taken by executive boards when it comes to understanding the threats that digital ways of working and modern technologies can have on their business model.
Regardless of your digital journey, or your position within the organisation, the steps to becoming a digitally-enabled business start at the top. Without digital leadership digital can quickly become a set of disconnected, incompatible and inconsistent activities that disrupt your business as usual. Without digital leadership your workforce simply continues as they are, or leave to pastures new where digital adoption is high on the agenda and a more rewarding career can be attained.
The path then is more of a transition rather than a transformation, taking incremental and iterative steps to transition your business inch by inch to infusing digital ways of working and modern technologies across all corners of your business.
Originally posted December 2015.