Digital Transformation is Neither Digital nor Transformation

Digital Transformation is Neither Digital nor Transformation

Digital Transformation is Neither Digital nor TransformationTalk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. Digital Transformation is neither Digital nor Transformation. Discuss.

Digital Transformation is worth close examination for several reasons.  First, despite what it implies, it often represents an ongoing, iterative, evolutionary process involving much more than a one-time flipping of a proverbial switch from same old sleepy static analog way of the past to new modern dynamic digital engaging experiences of the future.

Second, its siren call continues to attract masses of followers despite that such calls for the adoption of new technologies to improve the way businesses operate are nothing new.  You may be experiencing a sense of déjà vu and thinking, “Haven’t we seen and heard it before?  More importantly, do we really have to go through it again?  Haven’t we spent enough time and money reinventing our businesses and maximizing operational efficiencies to have earned a bye and advance to the next level without playing?”

Even though we could try to resist the siren call and skip this latest round of Digital Transformation, we shouldn’t. Due to ever changing economic and business circumstances and emerging technologies, organizations who choose to sit on the sidelines will be at a competitive disadvantage. Organizations have the opportunity, as well as the obligation to shareholders, employees and customers, to time and time again make changes ranging from small to significant by implementing innovative technologies and business models. That’s the only way to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiencies in both internal and customer-facing operations.

IDC’s Take on Digital Transformation

IDC is a true believer in the power of technology to transform businesses. At its annual Directions conference held in Boston on March 22 under the theme, “Digital Directions at Scale:  Innovation in a Changed World,” IDC shared a number of insights into how organizations should approach the current wave of Digital Transformation.

First, IDC described the goal of Digital Transformation as being the creation of value and competitive advantage by leveraging “3rd platform technologies” – cloud, big data/analytics, social business and mobility. Instead of treating it as yet another technology investment, Digital Transformation should be viewed as a business initiative that leverages the latest technologies to create business value through new business models, offerings or relationships. Accordingly, as a business initiative Digital Transformation is driven by the CEO and Lines of Business who will end up controlling a growing percentage of IT budgets.

Second, IDC pointed out that the current wave is unique in that it must be accomplished at scale. With dramatic changes underway such as an explosion in the volumes of sales transactions, customers and channel partners, drops in price points, and accelerations in the pace of change, organizations need to rebuild their businesses on 3rd platform technologies to operate and compete effectively.

Third, IDC estimated that enterprises are currently in the early stages of Digital Transformation with nearly two thirds in the explorer or player stages of their journey. By 2020, nearly half will have reached the advanced stages of transformers or disruptors. To achieve this, more than half of F100 companies have created teams of developers who will largely be focused on Digital Transformation and innovation.

Lastly, the key to successful Digital Transformation is to grow comfortable with 3rd platform technologies, leading use cases, developers, cloud platforms, and communities.

Managing Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation involves people, processes and technologies that all need to be managed effectively over time. A longtime customer of ours described in a recent interview how he has used QuickBase in leading Digital Transformations at three different companies. As a senior IT leader, Isaac Sacolick views a big part of his role as bringing process and governance to the table so that change can happen. He refers to QuickBase as a Swiss army knife that he uses to manage Digital Transformation in a variety of ways:  portfolio management to organize project business drivers, priorities and stages; financial management to represent multi-year and multi-project costs; and self-service apps created by citizen developers in lines of business to add structure around the data and the processes behind their workflows.

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