Is there any doubt that digital transformation was the foremost catch-phrase of 2016? Check out this Google Trends chart to see how that phrase has soared past business agility over the past two years and you’ll get a sense of how dramatically interest has soared.
Virtually every vendor has a digital transformation marketing campaign and most businesses are either developing their strategy or at least thinking about it.
It’s reached the point where Forbes contributor Joe McKendrick took a cynical view late last year in a post provocatively titled Why Digital Transformation Is An Empty Catch-Phrase.
That click-bait headline vastly overstated his point, which is that, “enacting a ‘digital transformation’ against an organization that is mired in calcified processes, non-customer-friendly behavior and restrictive, top-down thinking will simply add a layer of shiny new systems on top of all this dysfunction.”
Fundamental Changes Needed
That is a valid point. You can’t just layer a transformation strategy atop an organization without making some fundamental changes.
Myth number one about digital transformation is that it’s all about technology, says IDG Communications contributor Kumar Parakala. “Digital transformation is redefining a business strategy based on the potential of digital technologies,” writes Parakala. “It is a new way of thinking about customers, products and services, business models, talent pools, organizational structures and the ecosystem the business relies on.”
CEOs Step up to the Plate
A 2016 Gartner Inc. global survey reveals that “half of the CEOs surveyed expect to see substantial digital transformation in their industries, or for their industries to be almost unrecognizable within five years.” Furthermore, says Gartner, more CEOs are recognizing that digital business is important enough for them to lead the effort personally.
That’s an indication that business leaders recognize you can’t simply funnel money at digital systems and hope to be, or keep pace with, the leaders of the pack. Successful transformation also requires a top-to-bottom commitment to:
- Transform business models
- Create new customer experiences
- Empower workforce innovations
How To Make It Happen
It sounds easy when you see it written down. But any seasoned IT executive should full well understand that simply saying “Make it so” isn’t enough to actually make it happen. Driving digital transformation is no easy task and it can’t be done without business and IT leaders jointly focused on some key areas:
- Empowering people with the right digital skills, updated processes, and an adaptive culture toward, transforming their business.
- Tying digital investments to value realized.
- Expanding cross-organization and customer visibility, both historical and in real time.
- Securely connecting every transaction, communication, and endpoint across the value chain.
- Orchestrating growth and shrinkage of processes and operations on demand.
An integrated technology platform is going to be essential to covering all these technology needs, but successful transformation also requires agreement by all in management on a strategy and plan to make it happen. It takes more than words.
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