Digital transformation isn’t just about doing what IT has always done, only with better tools. It’s about leveraging the tools available now to go well beyond that, and to add significant value to your users’— and customers’—experience.
The term “digital transformation” has been in the limelight before. It was hot in the late 1990s, and again in the mid-2000s. Back then, it really meant “digitization” or “going paperless.” And much of the world is still in the process of doing this.
It’s also been used by many, including technology vendors, to mean “keep up with the latest technology, and use it.” Nowadays, this is really just table stakes for survival as an IT professional or organization. And it’s easy to do without truly being transformative.
Transforming the Story
True digital transformation is disruptive. It busts open the existing ways of doing things, both inside and outside the organization. It aims to make the whole business dramatically more:
- Agile—Able to follow new business opportunities in weeks instead of months
- People-oriented—Highly social and highly collaborative within the organization
- Customer-centric—Providing customers with many more opportunities to interact, personalize, and even enjoy their relationship to your business
- Creative—Able to tap into imaginative and previously impossible new information- and service-driven revenue streams
Mobile devices, mobile payment, modern CRM, agile Web applications, and the like are the technologies that drive the customer-centric and creative. On the internal people-oriented side, increasingly pervasive collaboration tools let companies effectively manage distributed and remote workforces and truly break down the barriers to horizontal communication, while big data and machine learning allow aggregation of data across the enterprise and drawing actionable insights from it.
Your Digital Transformation
Digital transformation starts with the right mindset. It requires going beyond making existing processes slightly more efficient. It requires understanding your business architecture, and suggesting ways to apply technology to provide radically improved capabilities to your employees and customers.
Forming a think tank can be useful to dedicate time and mental space to brainstorming digital transformation initiatives, as well as forming agile teams to quickly do a proof-of-concept or pilot. Bringing in fresh sets of eyes from your trusted vendors can also help. It may be necessary to create budget and bandwidth headroom by reducing the cost and management effort of your existing IT, for example, by streamlining your end-user computing strategy or doing a data center transformation.
Disruptive Tech Is Your Friend, Not Your Foe
The disruptive technologies that are available now make it more possible—and compelling—than ever to positively disrupt the way your company does business. Compelling enough, in fact, that your competitors are thinking about it—or already doing it—too. Think outside the cubicle, and seek out opportunities to do real digital transformation in your business.