IDC predicts that 2016 will be shaped by digital transformation, with availability, capabilities and business needs being the biggest related issues IT leadership will face.
With this announcement comes a flurry of buzz: from the media, articles about the latest platforms, apps, software and other tools that will lead digital transformation; from companies, vague references to ‘digital’ in press releases; and from marketing departments, campaigns touting CTO and CMO initiatives investing in the latest technologies, branded as the ultimate solution to deploy ‘digital transformation.’
Let’s take a step back for a second.
Digital transformation is considered the next step in the global adoption of digital technologies, after digital competence and digital usage. It is taking advantage of the digital literacy we’ve achieved as a society, and leveraging the new opportunities created by the technological and digital evolution.
It is all very exciting, and yet, there is arguably too much focus around the ‘digital’ element, and not the ‘transformation.’ The paradox of digital transformation is that it has less to do with the new technologies themselves, and more to do with the overall improvement and efficiency of an organization.
To take it a step further: the word ‘digital’ is no longer necessary.
What digital transformation isn’t about:
- ‘going digital’
- forcing everything to be digitalized, dematerialized, transposed into bit and bytes
- all to do with the development of new apps and tools
What digital transformation is actually about:
- changing perspectives and transforming society through new ways of thinking enhanced by the technological and digital literacy we have achieved
- much more of a holistic and systems-thinking driven approach in which data leads to new knowledge, and provides insights
- digital capability allowing us to access and see the world, people, and relationships under a brand new light
In other words, ‘digital’ is providing us with a new level of understanding by increasing our familiarity with the new technological systems we’re living with, and how we – as employees, citizens, and humans – experience the real world. It’s a new perspective on how technology enables – or hinders – our ability to achieve our goals and fulfill our needs.
Transformation starts with humans
Digital transformation is not a skill or responsibility in the hands of CMOs, COOs, CTOs, etc. It’s a process lead by the technological changes we have been subject to in the last few decades that is deeply transforming our lives and experiences as individuals and humankind.
It’s not surprising, then, that the discourse around digital transformation is more often than not connected with the reflection on customer experience. The data collected about how people interact with a brand, a service, or a product from a digital transformation perspective should lead to a deeper familiarity with ecosystem in which the individual moves. This data also leads to a better understanding of how each change and variation we introduce into the whole system – a new product, a new touchpoint, and even a new employee at the customer center – can affect one’s lived experiences.
This level of reflection should also be directed internally, at the organizational level.
Digital organizations are really transformative organizations
There is no such thing as a digital organization, but there are organizations that are able to leverage technology to take advantage of the ongoing relationship they are establishing with the existent ecosystem of services, people, processes, policies, and strategies.
Understanding these relationships is the first key step to transformation. Then digital can be leveraged to refine that ecosystem to be more responsive to the needs, values, and expectations of those being targeted (which may be customers, employees, suppliers, etc.)
So let’s look at the bigger picture. We start with an understanding of how technology is affecting people, and how people are experiencing technology, delving into that relationship, and from an organizational perspective adopting an active culture of change.
The focus of this change is not on how on technology as key and sole driver, but rather the new emerging relationships between people, technology and the whole ecosystem of interactions, and how these relationships can support a better ‘real world’ and ‘real-life’ exchanges.
At the heart of it all, transformation is about revolutionizing the real experiences of people and organizations. Increasingly, this is through a deeper understanding of how technology has been advancing, and what it means to all of us.