In Building Digital Culture, a Practical Guide to Successful Digital Transformation, Daniel Rowles and Thomas Brown point out that the term digital transformation has all the telltale signs of being another business buzz term. (A full review of their book can be found in the book review section.)
The number of ways to define digital transformation is only limited by the number of people you ask. Anand Eswaran of Microsoft says “If you put 20 executives in a room and ask them to define ‘digital,’ you are guaranteed to get 20 different answers”.
Digital transformation though is more than a buzz term and should not be dismissed. It is in fact something that companies and organizations need to reconcile with.
In their book, Rowles and Brown point out that its very heart, digital transformation “is about making your organization effective in fast-changing environment” and best way to affect that is to make sure your company’s culture is aligned with or modified to deal with constant change.
But what just is digital transformation?
eMarketers podcast Behind the Numbers had an excellent episode titled Digital Transformation’s Role In Marketing in which Jillian Ryan laid out eMarketer’s formal definition of digital transformation.
Ms. Ryan stated that digital transformation is “the process by which a business and the leaders within that business harness the capabilities of the advances of different technologies, be that big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, etc. and they use those technologies that are emerging right now, to reinvent not just company operations but their products, their marketing, their culture and their goals for the future. They reinvent who they are.”
Nicole Perrin of eMarketer who looks at digital transformation through the lens of customer experience, says the best way to figure out where you want digital transformation to bring you is to ask and answer “how am I going be serving my customers and audiences five years in the future”?
The biggest takeaway companies need to have, Ms. Ryan points out, is that digital transformation is not the end to anything. Digital transformation is the means to get where you want to go; where you want to the company to be and how will technology get you there.