There is a lot of misconception about the term “digital transformation”. Since it has become a buzzword, everything that looks from afar to be “digital” is sold under that label. I won’t go into details about what digital transformation actually is. There is enough material out there.
Every organization is occupied with many activities that keep their IT departments busy. These projects might change something for good within the organization. They might even have a positive impact on the business. But they don’t transform it.
Just because an organization releases a smartphone app or offers some interaction on their website, it doesn’t mean they are transforming. They are simply doing their overdue homework. Their business model remains the same.
Another important remark: digital transformation depends on innovation. Just because something is new to your organization, it doesn’t mean it’s innovative, right?
This one scores highest. Every week I get a handful of requests to help organizations with their challenge of implementing paperless processes. Don’t get me wrong, but this should have happened 15 years ago.
The good thing: it is important nonetheless. It has a positive impact on the ecological footprint. It has great potential for optimization. And it is better late than never.
Agility is one of the most important traits for surviving upcoming economical and technological changes, in my opinion. But agility alone doesn’t mean you’re transforming digitally. I often observe this kind of thinking in organizations that are doing digital business per se. Traditional banking is a good example.
The good thing: implementing agile practices also transforms an organization in a future-oriented way. And any digital transformation strategy is doomed without agility.
Implementing Advanced Technology
Large companies especially are trying hard to implement hot technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, big data analytics and so forth. Often it’s about stylizing themselves as being “innovative”, without understanding how these technologies can change the way they’ll do business in the future.
The good thing: experimenting with new technologies is a sign that the organization is doing well and can afford a research playground. Plus, employees start to think outside the box and might come up with ideas for how to change the way they work.
Switching to Cloud Services
Cloud services once were truly an innovation. Today, cloud services are often provided by the same vendors who formerly delivered on-premise solutions for the same standardized business processes. Using their tools online might be a novelty for employees. But “switching to the cloud” is just a tech change, not a transformation.
The good thing: employees will be happy to be able to work from anywhere on a web browser. They will be able to deliver better services to customers. Most of them will think that they now work for a modern company.
Companies always watch their competitors. OMG! They just launched a chatbot! We need to get one out as fast as possible! I suggest staying calm. See how it works out for your competitor. Does it really add any value to the customer? Sometimes it is wise to let them waste their money first.
Unfortunately, there is no good thing about just quickly copying what your competitors did. At best, it’s a waste of resources. At worst, it will ruin your reputation.
This article is the result of a lot of discussions via DM. I started to copy and paste my explanations. Now I have a single link at hand to send to people. If you agree, feel free to use it. If not, let me know. I am curious to hear other opinions.
About Roland Rust :
Roland is a digital product innovator and entrepreneur. He has been working with corporate clients over the last 15 years, helping them to master their digital transformation journey. Among other achievements, he has been leading the implementation of a game-changing digital business model in the manufacturing industry.
After running a tech start-up for five years, he specialized in developing software prototypes in small UX design-driven teams.