Digital transformation’s dark secret

Much of what passes as digital transformation these days is more cosmetic than foundational. The root of true change is deeper than you think.

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Digital businesses are defined by their use of technologies that fall under the “digital” umbrella — a constantly evolving mix that currently includes social media, mobile computing, analytics, cloud, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.

The statistics are alluring. Depending on which punditry you embrace you’ll read of large differentials in growth rates, profit margins, return on capital and other popular measures of business success.

And so, leaders of most traditional businesses are investing in digital strategies and transformations. Regrettably, their attempts resemble a freight hauler, wanting to break into Formula 1 racing, busily adding superchargers and spoilers to its existing 18-wheelers.

Following the advice of the usual advice-givers, digital wannabes for the most part chase a veneer of digital transformation while missing the small set of profoundly different business principles that truly differentiate digital successes from everyone else.

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