A digital transformation definition should be something you can actually apply in business.
Unfortunately, many of the definitions found online are abstract, esoteric, and full of jargon.
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This makes them impossible – or very difficult – to actually implement.
Let’s decode digital transformation … so you can understand its business value, why it is such a big trend, and what you can do about it.
A Digital Transformation Definition You Can Actually Use
The focus for this definition of digital transformation is usability – can you actually apply it?
You can find many definitions of this term online.
But they aren’t all the same.
And they can’t all be applied in business.
When it comes to defining terms, simplicity is best.
MIT Sloan Management Review has a good one: “the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.”
However, there are plenty of others:
- Digital transformation is the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society
- Digital transformation is a foundational change in how an organization delivers value to its customers
- Digital transformation is a term most often associated in the business world where companies are striving to keep up with changing business environments brought about by customer demand and technology
- Digital transformation is the profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind
- Digital Transformation is application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities
Reviewing these definitions, we can get a good idea of the term’s meaning.
And we can also see why the term confuses many people.
Or, at the very least, offers little in the way of business value.
A Pragmatic Approach to Digital Transformation
A definition is only useful if it can be used.
Here, we’ll look at 4 business areas that can be digitally transformed … and how to transform them.
1. Adoption of Digital Technology
The clearest, easiest example of digital transformation is digital adoption.
Digital adoption is the adoption, deployment, implementation, and application of technology, to its fullest extent.
Digital adoption involves processes such as:
- Selecting technology that meets business aims
- Onboarding new users – whether they are staff or customers
- Training users on that technology
- Monitoring usage and optimizing engagement metrics
In today’s business environment, digital technology runs the workplace and the marketplace.
Thanks to this, investments in digital technology are increasing year by year.
To adopt digital technology, organizations should develop:
- Organizational change programs
- Technology adoption initiatives
- Employee training and skills development
These changes aren’t easy.
Fortunately, though, they can be made easier with systematic change management, digital adoption platforms, and other digital adoption strategies.
2. Adoption of Digital Culture
Innovation is a hallmark of modern, successful organizations.
Another is customer-centrism and an emphasis on the customer experience.
These new focus points can contrast with older operating models, which focus on features, deliverables, and tradition.
Unfortunately, such traditional business approaches are hard-pressed to survive in the digital world.
Today, success requires a digital mindset.
Here are a few ways to adopt a digital culture:
- Implement digital work processes and work flows, as mentioned below
- Encourage the use of online tools for collaboration and work
- Offer remote working and other worker-friendly options
- Prioritize innovative thinking, creativity, and openness to new ideas
Today, businesses must stay agile and flexible.
This flexibility must start at the level of the individual – the more willing people are to change, the faster an organization can adapt.
3. Adoption of Digital Workflows and Processes
Digital workflows and work processes are essential to stay competitive.
- Maximizing productivity with existing technology
- Updating business processes with new software and systems
- Remote working, virtual workspaces, online collaboration, and other digitally-enabled workflows
Digital technology can greatly improve the returns on any business process.
The approaches mentioned above are excellent ways to increase efficiency, without a great deal of investment.
However, there are plenty of other ways that technology can boost business ROI…
Automation, augmentation, and analytics, for instance, can significantly boost business output across many business functions.
4. Adoption of Digital-First Business Strategies
Strategy should drive all business decisions, including digital transformation.
And today, that strategy should be digital-first.
The more dependent organizations are on technology, the more they should focus on technology at the strategic level.
Digitalization is fundamentally altering the nature of competition.
This means that businesses must rethink their strategies and put digital first.
In an IDG survey, respondents focused on a few key areas in their digital strategies:
- Enabling worker productivity through digital tools
- Improving data availability and visibility to better manage business performance
- Better meeting customer expectations
Such strategic aims can be significantly enhanced thanks to digital technology.
And, in a business environment that is rapidly digitalizing, such strategies can differentiate the winners from the losers.