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Digital Transformation – what is it all about?

There is a plethora of confusion around Digital Transformation. There are many ‘experts’ and organisations that claim to have transformed!

But what does it mean?

For many it is referring to the introduction of new channels of communication for customers to engage with an organisation. For others, it will be the use of technology to replace a manual or paper based process.

My own belief is the latter with the real opportunity and benefit being to improve efficiency and reduce cost for an organisation with improved information sharing, increased automation and greater data collection being some of the benefits. It is not something that only impacts the front office service in relation to customers, it also impacts the back office, the organisation and the enterprise.

Why is digital transformation so popular?
Well my own opinion is that it is the latest buzzwords that are used to create an impression of expertise or being ahead of the game. It is used extensively in marketing terms and in management speak. It is a broad term that can be used in many scenario’s, often without real substance. We have used the term transformation and continue to do so as we do not believe that technology should be the real driver of change.

Is Digital Transformation new?
Transformation is not new and neither is the use of technology. If we look back in management terminology we have seen Business Process Re-engineering, Lean Thinking, Systems Thinking, Japanisation and many others. They have all delivered benefits when applied in the right environments. They are not obsolete either but it does appear that digitalisation has taken over.

Do we need a Digital Transformation project?
The answer to this question should be considered carefully. There are probably many projects that would involve digital transformation but they should be referenced as business projects. So, for example, providing the ability for customers to pay online will require digital transformation but it is actually about increasing sales or improving income collection. It is important to understand the drivers of the project and be able to identify the changes that will be required to support this new initiative. It is not just about introducing the technology, it is about ensuring that the technology meets the business needs and delivers the benefits.

Maybe it better to have an overarching Digital Transformation programme that ensures synergy across the various business projects and provides coordination and direction. An example here may be in looking at all of the projects that require systems development and determining that it would be more effective to replace rather than develop.

Digital Transformation is a term used in many different situations. It refers to transformation (or change) that relies upon technology to create improvement. Transformation is not new and neither is the use of technology to generate improvement but the use of the term digital transformation implies the use of digital technology.
It is recommended that transformation projects should be driven by business users who will see the benefits as being an improvement to efficiency, effectiveness or cost. A successful digital transformation should be measured by the successful achievement of those benefits rather than the successful implementation of a new system or technology.