So What is Digital Transformation, Really?

For the past few years we have heard a lot about so-called digital transformation.

But what is digital transformation, really? While it might be tempting to throw the phrase into the ‘jargon’ category, it reflects a very real an immediate business challenge. As that strange saying goes, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater".

What digital transformation really reflects is the way in which IT and business needs now need to connect to create business value. IT is no longer just the group that helps you when you’ve forgotten your password. They now touch the heart of how organizations do business effectively. This includes data; innovation; digital marketing; lead capture and conversion; and more.

At its heart, digital transformation is about connecting better with digital customers. It acknowledges the reality of customer expectations on digital channels and the fact that that it impacts every single digital touchpoint at different stages of the buying cycle extending to how companies support customers post-sale. The transformation lies in a series of shifts that move business and IT to a new cooperative alliance and new priorities that focus on digital enablement and delivery.

So where does the digital transformation lie?

An organizational shift

A big part of this transformation is organizational. This mentality, process and resource shift means increased cooperation and integration of IT functions in areas where they did not traditionally sit. For example marketing, sales, production, distribution, customer support… the list goes on. It is end-to-end and it how today’s organization needs to do business to compete by challenging the old-world IT silo and the very essence of how IT supports and is actively involved in the business.

At the heart of this is a need to think differently around digital, based on the right mix of people, tools, frameworks and experience around collaboration. It involves creating a mindset change around IT and the business from the beginning, including moving away from conventional approaches to IT operations and towards more agile methods."

A shift in KPIs

Measurement has changed. Innovation enters digital channels at the blink of an eye and along with it, customer expectations. This places huge demands on time-to-market but also on engagement and agility. New KPIs necessarily bring together traditional measurements (cost savings, process optimization and efficiency) with the customer value and business value. You can think of these as engagement metrics which complement traditional KPIs and that point to ongoing transformation.

Once the digital experience transformation is underway, it is important to analyze the data gathered to guide the refinement of systems, enhance communication and resolve any tangential issues (or possibly distractions) that surface throughout the process.

By having upgrade touchpoints, the organization can course-correct to align with the guiding vision of the optimal digital experience for all customers and users."

 A shift in vendor strategy

Given the complex demands on the digital channel both for internal operational efficiency and for active customer engagement, it has become clear that a single vendor cannot supply every technology an organization needs. This means partnering with vendors that supply not only the core digital technology but who also provide open architecture and integration points to other enterprise applications. Today’s digital technology vendor should be aware of what transforming organizations need and are looking for.

Integrating existing systems and investing time and effort connecting the dots through analytics or primary client research is of critical importance in being able to form the business case for further technology investments – data-driven, objective insights will win any argument."

Digital transformation is more than IT

What is clear that is that digital transformation is about more than IT. It is about achieving company goals within the context of quickly changing customer demands, market shifts and competitive challengers by putting technology in place that facilitates. Digital transformation is the ability to act based on data and opportunity.

Is the phrase ‘digital transformation’ jargon? Only if it’s used without meaning or as a buzzword. Actions matter more than words and technology and business are now partners in creating action.