“Digital Transformation” – the new buzz term brands are throwing at shareholders: what it might mean if you hear it

“Digital Transformation” – the new buzz term brands are throwing at shareholders: what it might mean if you hear it on ctp.us

There’s more to it than simply throwing more money at technology.

Your business is under attack. A competitor is breathing down your neck. They do something better than your company. Maybe they’re just a bit more nimble in one specific area, but it’s enough to tilt the scale in their favor.

“Business as usual” is out of the question if you want to stay successful in business. You need to transform. And because technology is the engine of innovation, we’re told that the transformation we need to make is a digital transformation. What is this? What does it entail?

More than tech

There’s no hardware or a software program to precipitate this transformation. Digital transformation is a shift in thinking.

Your tools are digital. You’ll use social media, mobile devices, and other emerging technologies. And it must start with your leadership, which has to adopt the transformation and push it down.

Digital transformation is the process that closes the gap between what your customers expect and what you deliver. And you won’t be able to offer this if you act like an analog organization.

What does this gap look like?

It’s going to look different for each organization. To define it, you’ll have to ask and provide answers to these questions:

Does your organization have a digital strategy? It must go beyond a philosophy. It has to be a practice. Everyone in your organization must be able to state the strategy, meaning it must be clear and simple.

Can you measure the effectiveness of the strategy? Have you laid out a business case for your use of social media? What is the measurable return on your investment, in dollars?

Digital literacy

Digital transformation should make your business better. It starts with increasing the level of digital literacy at the leadership level. One executive might think this means moving everybody over to Office 365 and going paperless. Another might believe there’s nothing they need to do at all, and it’s just about online marketing.

Reimagining your business to create a digital transformation requires rethinking your business model. How do you create value? How do you make money by using technology to reposition your product or service so it’s consumed the way that customers prefer, rather than in the way you initially created it?

In search of the transformation

Many organizations believe they’ll transform by increasing their IT and technology budget. Others decide it’s just a redesign of their website.

These efforts wind up becoming a decorative layer on top of legacy thinking and operations. True digital transformation must accommodate customer behavior. In some respects, modern customers are assuming an operational role within your organization. Their behavior is vastly different than the traditional customers you had before.

The differentiator

Digital transformation puts people and processes above technology. This may seem counterintuitive, because isn’t technology the change agent?

Technology is actually just the tool and people are its consumers. Digital transformation uses digital technologies to connect, enhance, and focus attention where it should be: on the customer.

It’s the intersection where your business and customer value meet. It’s also about responding to the changes that digital technology has caused in our daily lives. We’ve already seen unexpected consequences. Disruption isn’t always such a good thing.

In his book Zero To One: Notes On Startups, Or How To Build The Future, Peter Thiel writes that disruption “attracts attention: disruptors are people who look for trouble and find it. Disruptive kids get sent to the principal’s office. Disruptive companies often pick fights they can’t win.”

Thiel also writes, “The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete. But the most valuable companies in the future won’t ask what problems can be solved with computers alone. Instead, they’ll ask: how can computers help humans solve hard problems?”

Where transformation should occur in your organization

It doesn’t really matter.

Answer the gap questions above. You may discover that your focus should be on improving customer interactions. Or, you may determine that you need internal reorganization.

Adopting technology as tool for change makes no sense if you have something that isn’t broken. Transformation, digital or otherwise, requires only that you change what’s needed to improve the bottom line. And remember, the bottom line always connects to your customer. The more difficult the change, the more transformative it will be.

If you’re looking to implement a strategy for digital transformation, starting with an assessment of areas of your digital presence that need to evolve, contact the professionals at Creative Technology Partners. We have the expertise to meet all of your content needs, providing expert software engineering, strategic user experience, and design services.

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