It’s critical to discuss the meaning of digital transformation – the inevitable definitions discussions.
Before investing, businesses should understand:
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- Why digital transformation is taking the world by storm
- The different dimensions of digital transformation – from technology to strategy
- The pros and cons of digital transformation
- Digital transformation themes and trends
To begin, let’s define digital transformation.
Digital Transformation – The Inevitable Definitions Discussion
Because digital transformation is a new term, exact definitions may vary.
Depending on who you ask, they may focus on one or another element of the term.
Here are a few definitions commonly found online:
- Digital transformation is the “revamping” of the business strategy, digital strategy, models, operations, products, marketing approach, objectives, etc. by digital technologies
- It is the integration of digital technologies into all areas of a business, which changes how that business operates and delivers value to its customers
- It represents a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes to change business performance
- The coupling of granular, real-time data with modern technologies to enhance products, processes, and business-decision making with customer, product, and operational insights
- It is the move from physical to digital
We could go on.
However, we can draw a few conclusions from this brief survey of definitions:
- Digital transformation uses technology to help organizations evolve
- Organizational changes extend to many areas of a business, from processes to people
- Despite differences in details, most definitions share the same core themes
Below, we will take a look at these themes in greater detail.
Definitions of Digital Transformation: A Breakdown
Regardless of who you ask, the same themes crop up over and over.
Here are a few of these core themes:
Technology itself is the driving force behind digital change.
It enables innovation, new products, new operating models, and much more.
Therefore, it is only natural that technology would be the core component of any digital transformation effort.
Digital transformation efforts, therefore:
- Revolve around digital adoption – that is, embracing and using new technology to its fullest extent
- Uses technology to enhance existing business functions and enable new ones
- Focus heavily on modernizing the IT function
However, as we will see below, adopting technology is just part of the process.
Technology represents a toolset that helps businesses transform their operations.
Technology has reshaped the way people interact.
As a result, businesses have had to change the way they communicate with customers.
Not only that, they have had to fundamentally rethink they way they deliver services and products to customers.
Today, the customer experience has become the new “battleground” for businesses.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Customers have more choice than ever – because location is no longer a barrier, customers can change brands at the drop of a hat
- People are also more demanding than ever – they are less tolerant of bad customer service, poor products, and poor experiences
- The customer experience, therefore has become a competitive differentiator – companies that deliver better customer onboarding, customer care, and customer experiences can gain more market share and more customer value
- New technologies have opened up new frontiers in customer service – personalization, for instance, allows companies to market, sell, and support customers more effectively.
For these reasons, we see the customer experience repeatedly cropping up in discussions around digital transformation.
Processes are another core element in the definition of digital transformations.
To stay competitive, relevant, and modern, businesses must leverage technology to revamp – or completely change – existing business processes.
Here are a few ways that digital transformation affects business processes:
- Makes them more efficient – optimization of existing processes can cut costs, decrease turnaround times, and improve productivity and performance
- Improves results – processes that are more effective deliver better outcomes and higher returns
- Eliminates processes completely – automation, for instance, can completely eliminate certain tasks or job duties
- Offers insight – data and analytics are critical methods of gaining insight into a business process, which can highlight strengths and weaknesses in a process
The transformation of business processes – as with the other topics covered here – can alter the competitive landscape.
By delivering more ROI, cutting costs, and fundamentally shifting business models, organizations can outstrip competitors.
And, in some cases, they can even reshape entire markets.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The fourth industrial revolution is a term that describes today’s global digital transformation trend.
In short, this idea proposes that today’s wave of digital transformations marks the beginning of a new industrial revolution.
As with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth industrial revolution will fundamentally alter the economy.
According to Klaus Schwab, the man who proposed the idea, these changes are extraordinarily profound.
So much so that “there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.”
A quick glance at today’s marketplace reveals why – successful innovators can disrupt and overturn marketplaces.
Those that fail to adapt, however, quickly get left behind.
The consequences for failing to transform can be dire – lost market share or even total failure.
The economy is changing at breakneck speed.
To stay afloat and thrive during this new industrial revolution, transformation is a must.
Businesses should research digital transformation carefully, adopt the right technologies, and implement appropriate strategies.
Digital transformation is not an option in today’s marketplace – it is the baseline for success.