Digital Transformation – the latest trend or meaningful?

What is Digital Transformation and what exactly does it mean for you. Is this something you should be considering or is it just the latest industry fad and buzzword that everyone is claiming to be an expert in?

Wikipedia define Digital Transformation as:

the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems

Is that completely helpful in terms of what it means for business?

Let’s break it down – two words in the phrase digital and transformation. Digital implies you’re going to do something with technology, transformation implies change. So is digital transformation simply a technological change? Slightly but there is more to it than that. Let me focus on the transformation element first.

Transformation is a change and change in business almost always comes from a driving need due to something failing or not working as effectively as it should.  That could be an operational change or a change of process.  The use of technology is what facilitates the change – to improve ways of working. So, the starting point shouldn’t be “I’m going to implement digital transformation in my business” – the starting point is, “something isn’t working as effectively as it could, how do we improve it”.  Step one is to set out what isn’t working and what you want to achieve. Only after that is established should you look at technology and how it can help you reach the outcome you want.

By that I mean – digital transformation isn’t saying “I want to implement some form of technology” – it’s recognising that something fundamentally needs to change in process and in mindset and technology is the facilitator to reach that outcome.

As an example, let’s look at cloud migration.

Again, a term that’s been kicked around a lot and one many organisations have successfully implemented within their business. To apply what I said at the start of this blog, what’s the driving need for change in a business that would get them to the outcome that their business needs to move to the cloud? (and because everyone else is doing it isn’t the right answer!!!)

Issues that could drive a need for cloud migration include outdated manual processes, expensive outdated server architecture, consolidating data centres, flexibility of workforce location, responsiveness to customers, security, efficiency improvements. This list is not exhaustive but it points to one thing – updating ways of working from outdated and often expensive processes. The outcome of which is modernising business operations to become more competitive as a supplier and more attractive as an employer.

As a practical example of improving business productivity, AWS reports that their customers state that their workforce are 30-70% more productive as a result of migrating to the cloud.

In summary, yes Digital Business Transformation is the key term used today around technology and isn’t going away anytime soon – but the fundamental shift must be to recognise what the end goal is and then work out what the technological facilitator is. That is the key to making digital transformation a success.

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