Digital Transformation, Is This the New Normal?

The term, ‘digital transformation’ is being bandied about in the modern business environment and beyond.  Put simply, digital transformation is the process whereby technology is used to upgrade or develop a service or business which previously had been using a manual or non-digital process.  It can also mean replacing outmoded digital technology with newer systems.  The success of Uber is a case in point.


It’s a relatively easy concept to grasp and why wouldn’t you want to if something can be made faster, more efficient and costs are streamlined?  As the world becomes more and more digitalised, this is something most businesses feel they cannot afford to ignore.  Coronavirus has been a big push in this direction as many people have been forced to work from home calling into question whether a physical office space is even necessary and face to face contact being substituted with electronic engagement in daily life.


Lots of businesses are revising exactly how they do things and in broad terms, this can only be viewed as a good thing.  However, delve down into the detail and there is a bit more to it than that.  The overarching concept of digitalisation is perfectly sound but translating it to suit individual businesses is another matter and it can be easy to make costly mistakes without a full understanding of what is being attempted and how.


Digital transformation myth-busting


Change for change’s sake – motivations for digital transformation can vary, some people are fearful of it and many employees are naturally resistant to change as they prefer to do things that they are familiar with and may resent the extra workload or effort required to manage new systems.  Any change should be supported by clear data to suggest an improvement and phased in.  Keep change reasonably low key to avoid workplace stress and to encourage everyone to engage with it.


Digital transformation is only about technology – technological processes are just a part of the change process, there are also alterations to business objectives and the culture in the workplace.  The focus should not be just about the technology; tech is the servant of a new process and way of working not the master.  Organisations should start with what they want to achieve and then work back to find the new systems that will help fulfil this rather than the other way around.  Digital transformation is not about doing the same old same old just with new technology.


Failure is a failure – Winston Churchill famously said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”.  Failing is a learning opportunity and many business decisions do not hit the jackpot the first time around.  Engaging all the workforce in meaningful channels of communication which allow for feedback will help refine the process and lead to improvements.  Success is about the improvement of the business overall in terms of its new objectives and technology is only a part of this.



Don’t miss out, isn’t everyone undergoing digital transformation?  


The nature of the digital transformation beast is that it is many things to many people and depends totally on the size of the organisation and the nature of the business.  A large and well funded international company will have a correspondingly big budget and greater reach than a small independent high street business but the latter can be just as successful perhaps by launching an app to promote their trade and alter how customers can reach them.  It’s not all about big statements and big money.  The key to success is the strategisation behind the move.  New start-ups have the benefit of beginning with a clear deck compared to an established business trying to transform – sometimes, this is easier.


Follow the rules – the concept of digital transformation is ultimately very flexible so there are no rules – it’s whatever works and every organisations’ blueprint will be different.  Slavishly copying what other businesses have done may not be helpful; although it can provide useful information, it just might not be relevant. Customisation is the watchword with digital transformation, avoiding the one size fits all mentality.


Digital transformation is for life not just for Christmas, it is an ethos and a constantly changing process which should evolve as society and technology change.  There are no guaranteed results or outcomes which is why a continuous process of implementation and review is essential to make a success of the digitalisation of any business or organisation.  Adapt to survive or go the way of the dinosaurs.


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