“Digital transformation” is a buzzword at the moment which is driving all the ‘Flintstones’ to being ‘Jetsons’. Whether it’s a panel discussion, a webinar or a keynote presentation, the message is resonating loud and clear, if you are to survive in the digital world - transformation is inevitable.
But very few seem to have wrapped their head around this buzzword. Most seem to think it indicates moving to cloud, others are stuck in the blackhole of calling it a strategic move or just another fad.
This article tries to clear the air a bit by taking a simplistic view of the situation and explaining basics to tech aficionados.
So, what is digital transformation?
The meaning of digital transformation may vary across organizations as it is difficult to sum it up in one line. But the confusion is evident from the different definitions we have come across. For instance, Wikipedia tries to explain about the effects of digital transformation, not just at business level but towards society as a whole. It states, “Digital transformation is part of a larger technological process, and is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.” Similarly, many other articles over the internet give different explanations on the basis of what results businesses expect to achieve from transformation.
However, let’s start with a simple definition to clear the ambiguity, “Digital transformation means implementation of technologies in all aspects of business, changing the processes by which businesses operate and adding values to customer experience”.
But there’s more to digitizing the businesses than just adoption of technologies. The culture of the organization should be prepared enough to wage a war against all odds when undergoing the experimentation and adoption. It means taking a fresh approach for brand-new processes instead of sticking to conventional ways.
Why has digital transformation gained so much importance?
With the onset of cloud, BOYD, and slew of technologies, it’s become imperative for businesses to adapt to these changes or risk existence. Although altering the processes for any business is full of risks and monetary challenges, to stay afloat businesses need to don a different avatar.
There had been instances in the past when top organizations used to stick to their positions on stock market indexes. But lately the trend has been challenged by adoption of technology. Today organizations need to understand the gravity of merging technology with strategies or perish.
As Eric Pearson says, “It’s no longer the big beating the small, but the fast beating the slow”.
The rate at which start-ups are streamlining the business is tremendous. Simply adopting the technology will not deliver desired outcome. CIOs need to undertake apt measures to lead collaboration and support at company-wide level or be prepared to fade away in competition
However, there are many other reasons to validate the need of digital transformation to CIOs who still have doubts or inhibitions. Today almost all organizations are actively embracing the concept of going digital and generating revenue from it. Infact as per MIT Center for Digital Business, “Companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26 percent more profitable than their average industry competitors and enjoy a 12 percent higher market valuation.”
Moreover, digital transformation accelerates the process of attaining high level efficiency which is not possible with legacy systems. In addition, with customers going digital it’s more important for businesses to catch up with technologies to deliver a top-notch user experience.
Digital transformation framework
Digital transformation framework varies based on the organization’s specific challenges and demands. However, there are certain components which are applicable across the board:
- Top-notch customer experience: Ability to use technology to delight customers
- Operational agility: Processes & Technology which can respond to problems faster
- Organizational culture and leadership roles: CIOs showing its employees how to adopt and adapt to impending changes and implementation of technologies
- Workforce enablement: Using smart technologies to empower workforce/employees and create a sense of belongingness
- Digital technology integration: Integrating new technologies with existing legacy systems to enable seamless experience
Role of organizational culture into digital transformation
This decade has witnessed some remarkable changes in terms of organizational approach and expectations. Traditionally IT was used as a means to control expenses of operations. But the last few years have seen it to be challenged by an approach of leveraging IT for other purposes – “Make money and drive innovation”. The mindset of people has tremendously changed from running packaged solutions to innovation for development. Gone are the days when people depended on running the mainframes or servers or data centers for operations. Today the mainstream start-ups focus on creating new avenues.
But embracing this shift in working style could not merely be attributed to adoption of new technology. It requires everyone in the organization to work towards adoption and implementation of such technologies for the success of the transformation. Nevertheless, when we talk about firms getting digitized, we don’t just talk about implementation of Internet of Things, Big Data or Artificial Intelligence. But how the people adopted different tools for collaboration and get the work done.
What drives digital transformation?
Till now we discussed how technologies played a crucial role in the whole transformation process. But coming off the outdated and redundant legacy systems is more important than it seems. There are numerous cases in different industries which display how businesses are fighting to curb expenses to keep legacy systems running. Needless to say, these barriers hinder the digital transformation journey which CIOs aim to embark upon.
That’s why it is significant for leaders to understand that in order to drive digital transformation efficiency is equally important. And to attain the same, agility is the solution. Today, companies need to be faster than ever to stay ahead of the innovation curve.
Digital transformation is an all-encompassing task which demands utmost and immediate attention to the hyper growth of technologies that surround us. In the modern context, it has the potential to arm businesses with agility and smartness to tackle fast-moving digital consumers.
The most telling tale of emergence of digital transformation is the shift towards 'The Subscription Economy' where adaptiblity and customer experience take precendence over product-centric models which are 'cast-in-stone'.
Zuora, netflix. uber etc. are great examples of how technology reinvention dovetails with business model reinvention to create unparalled user experience. That is Digital Transformation, alive and kicking.