What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is how an organisation becomes built to continually change, innovate and reinvent, rather than simply enhance or support the traditional methods of its industry. The word ‘digital’ is a synonym for the pace of change occurring in today’s world, driven by the rapid adoption of technology.

The concept of technology in digital transformation is an important one but there is a great deal of conflicting opinion surrounding this relationship. In fact, one of the most pervasive digital transformation myths is that technology creates competitive advantage.

Columbia University Professor, David Rogers expresses it particularly elegantly: “Digital transformation is not about the application of new technology, it’s really about strategy, leadership and new ways of thinking”.

To illustrate the point, let us for a brief moment take a peek into the actually not so dim and distant past when electricity first made its way into domestic use. 

This photo taken in the 1930s depicts a group of ladies attending a conference on the use of electricity in the home. Let’s set to one side the fact that electric heating clearly wasn’t one of the first gadgets invented judging by the proliferation of those rather fabulous fur scarves, the point here is to draw a parallel between the adoption of electricity in the 1930s and the idea of technology adoption today. Electricity in the home was never the game changer in and of itself. The game-changing effect of electricity was in giving us access to an energy source in our homes that powered machines that performed our tasks more conveniently and efficiently than we could do manually. The widespread adoption of electricity was due to people investing in labour saving devices. We don’t think about electricity any more (until the power goes off), we care about the gadgets we use to simplify or enrich our lives that are powered by electricity. It is the same with technology. The gadgetry is not the point, it’s what you do with it that matters. 

The way in which technology is evolving is not only at a rate that we have never before witnessed, but in a direction that is moving the power back to the customer. That power comes from choice. Before we all carried devices that connect us to the internet in our back pockets, we selected our product or service provider who fell within the distance we were prepared to travel and had the most affordable or effective solution to meet our needs. The core underlying principles governing that choice haven’t changed. Customers are still trying to perform tasks and the provider that has the most affordable, effective and convenient solution at the point of need is the one that is most likely to be adopted.

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Which brings us neatly (I hope) to the crux of the argument. Digital Transformation may be powered by technology, but adopting or creating new technology does not lead to digital transformation. Strategy dictates the direction of travel.  Technology provides the mode of transport to get you there. 

We believe that the underlying principles of digital transformation are:

Strategy creates competitive advantage

People and a culture of innovation sustains it.

Marketing and technology are the means by which it is delivered.

Digital Business Strategy is best created using a data-driven Digital Transformation Framework.


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