Digital Transformation is the process of using technology and data to do Business Transformation. Nowadays, every business article you read has something directly, indirectly or implied related to transformation, business transformation, and digital transformation. The problem is that everything that is done to improve the organization is said to be some sort of transformation. Even small changes. They are not.
To be clear, while there are many levels of digital transformation ranging from disrupting/rethinking industries to drastically improving customer experiences, making small incremental changes does not mean you are doing a digital transformation. Additionally, there are organizations that claim that they are doing some sort of digital transformation but in reality, they might be just upgrading/introducing software, deciding between on-prem, off-prem, SaaS, etc.
As I see it, the fundamental problem of Digital Transformation is not only the over-hype use of this cool buzzword but also the fact that Digital Transformation is hard to do. It is hard because it is misunderstood and most of the time its boundaries are kinda vague. To illustrate this point, try to think of who do you think is responsible for Digital Transformation, now go ask your peers in other departments and compare. If someones come up and say that since its Digital Transformation it has to be somehow related to the Information Technology (IT) department or maybe even the Marketing department that uses the term Digital Experience.
In either of the above cases, the answer is not a simple one. In the case of the IT department, it could be them:
- if the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is part of the executives,
- if CIO’s name is published in annual reports,
- if the CIO doesn’t report to CFO,
- if the CEO considers CIO to be a crucial differentiator,
- if CIO has responsibility for operations and innovation,
- if CIO is supported across middle management and front-line employees of all departments
Too many ifs to answer and there is not enough time/resources in organizations for people to be thinking about these ifs. But to at least get the ball started, I would encourage people to ask the following:
|1.||Who is responsible for defining and managing the organization’s Digital Transformation?||Who should be responsible for defining and managing the organization’s Digital Transformation?|
|2.||What is being accomplished with Digital Transformation?||What do you want to accomplish with Digital Transformation?|
|3.||Where does the Digital Transformation start and end?||Where should the Digital Transformation start and end?|
|4.||When is Digital Transformation relevant?||When should Digital Transformation be relevant?|
|5.||Why Digital Transformation is happening?||Why should the Digital Transformation happen?|
When you ask the above question to yourself or others, bear in mind that answers can be fluid, misaligned or just simply wrong (yes that can happen!) and that Strategy, Politics, Innovation, Culture and Execution (SPICE) can really mess-up or enhance your recipe(s) for success.