Digital Transformation: What Does It Really Mean?

Digital transformation is the buzz phrase, but what does it mean for mere mortals struggling with contemporary business issues and developments? 100TB investigates…

OK digital transformation what are you?

This is the key question and it drives us crazy. Why? Digital transformation is a noun and is often used as a verb, but also appears to be a process you do and then it’s complete. One wonders whether digital evolution might be a little more helpful with regards to a better understanding of the ongoing process and terminology.

So what are we looking at in terms of a digital transformation definition?

It’s basically a marked change in form, nature, or appearance.

Other synonyms you might wish to consider are:

change, alteration, modification, variation,

conversion, revision, amendment, metamorphosis

transfiguration, evolution, mutation, sea change;

The opposite of all that is preservation and conservation, of course, but you knew that, right?

Emergent Business Models

The future of your business relies on change, alteration, modification, revision and evolution. So what’s the big deal? Why can’t we carry on like we’ve always done? What happens if I ignore digital transformation? What if we all decide “I’ve been ok up until now and our business is fine thanks?”

We get it, but, and there’s a very big but coming, the world has changed since the internet truck rolled into town. Business has shifted in the main away from product to service orientation and, again in a relational approach, from goods-dominant logic to service-dominant logic. There is now no difference, in general, between traditional and digital models. So what does that mean?

Watch out! The customer experience is here to stay!

What’s happened is that ‘the customer experience’ and the omnichannel nature of commerce means we all need to shift how we deal with customers. They don’t just need to come to us, we need to find out where they are. We can’t just broadcast egocentrically, we must understand their needs and create experiences.There is a synergy between business and consumer that never existed before. We are looking at co- creation. Successful contemporary businesses that look outwards, brings in advocates and work with them to drive change. There’s nothing better than creating products or services that people actually want rather than what you might think they want.

Value creation spaces create specificities, multiplicity and instability.

Working to produce plans for a whole year is no longer advisable. Experiment, test, review and revise are the models we need to acquire. You might find that ways to increase value and cut costs, while differentiating from competition, might be a digital only model — using remote workers or maybe a pop up. This digital transformation malarkey is about adaptability. Yes, we are back to the evolution word. Adapt or die; it’s the survival of the fittest: Darwin was right.

The value of events and experiences cannot be understated.

Experiential communication and engagement platforms throughout your value chain offer massive opportunities. Of course, what comes with that is massive risk. How do you manage ‘many to many marketing’? You no longer have control in the traditional/ historic brand to consumer model. That’s a key takeaway.

Learn more about the digital transformation process here.

It’s not just about emerging business models either.

Digital evolution is about enterprise 2.0. You no longer need to see hierarchy and horizontality as being in opposition. There has been a degree of environmental change and a growing complexity in this area. Internal factors are not the only drivers anymore. The equal partner in this is the needs of the customer. You can have the greatest team on earth, the smartest building and creative marketing, but if you cannot deliver your promises — you are simply dead in the water.

Flexibility, agility and creativity need to be your company tattoo.

You cannot ignore the experiences and expectations of Generation Y and C. Legacy thinking can hold you back. Fire anyone who says: ‘Oh but we’ve always done it this way’ or ‘well, historically……’ There’s no place for legacy thinking in your digital transformation processes.

Digital transformation/evolution is about a constant hunger for education.

Adaptable businesses also crave understanding and learning through experience. Customers also love to learn through experiences with a brand. Therefore, proactive customer involvement is a key shift in approach. Plasticity is fundamental for your business. Ask yourself: how open is your business to an individual’s ideas becoming the organization’s change? Scary huh? But that’s what needs to happen as innovation is a complex process. You have to knit together top down approaches with bottom up approaches. Ask your support teams for example what frustrates them, what they would change if they had the money and the power and, finally, what they would do better? You might be shocked at what they tell you.

Everyone needs to be prepared to change and empowered leadership has never been so vital.

You might be saying, “Ok, so how do we start that process off?” Well, the answer is: begin locally. These changes and new practices can be refined within confines that are easily managed. The thing that has to be prevented is a distortion or loss of a message. Ask your management people to relinquish all but the broad strategy.

Never miss another post from 100TB — Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

Originally published at