What Kind of Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a buzzword. Like any good buzzword it covers a multitude of sins. This jargon is used and abused to cover a wide range of product, process, organisational and technology changes. Many of these different approaches reflect different stages in the maturity of our understanding of the potential of digital technology.

Let’s examine a few examples of each:

Technology-focused – Build it and They will come

  • Move these servers to the cloud – Same old software. New metal
  • Move this software to the cloud – Newer software. Access anywhere
  • Give us new digital stuff – Duplicating and extending analogue ways
  • Proprietary Interfaces everywhere – You can have access on our terms
  • Solutions in search of problems – Blockchain, and so on
  • APIs everywhere – Open Access but new challenges
  • Automate everything – We have a bot for that.
  • Platforms to nowhere – We built a platform but now it needs users
  • User-driven technology and adoption – We start with user needs and work back to the digital technology

Process-focused – Digital Transformation Done Analogue Ways

  • Digitising Your Current Processes – Paving the Goat track. A faster & sexier way of the same inefficient process
  • Locking in Legacy: Adapting to new processes but building in logic, data or algorithms from analogue models
  • Digital Process Innovation: Leveraging openness, connectivity, real-time, transparency and more to develop new process approaches
  • Realigning Around Customer and Employee: Ensuring that the new digital processes are designed to deliver value to users

Product-focused – New Digital Goodness

  • New channels for Customers: More ways to talk to us so the cost to serve has increased overall
  • New product enhancements – Adding digital features or services to existing analogue channels. Your cereal now has an app. Your airport has a Facebook account
  • New products and services – Rethinking the Job to be Done for your product in new ways with digital
  • Product Management: Lean Prototyping and Releases – shipping faster and earlier
  • Opening up capabilities as services – Rethinking what your organisation does well and what it can do for or with others

Organisational-focused – Rethinking the Digital Organisation 

  • Digital team – small group of people playing with the cool stuff
  • Digital Labs – put digital experimentation somewhere safe but let it grow into a business
  • Digital Ventures – partner with startups to do digital innovation. Mostly we bring the money.
  • Measurement and Analytics – HR Data for the win
  • Agile transformation (or similar) – Take digital practices and incorporate them into our workflow and structures. Some times it works. Mostly it doesn’t
  • Digital People Experience – Onboard, work, and offboard yourself
  • Digital Culture Transformation – Scaled Learning and Change and rethinking Value Creation

This small sample highlights myriad ways that digital technologies are used in organisations. There’s many more. In each of these areas in which digital can change the organisation, it comes down to a few key questions:

  • Are you ready to change your thinking?
  • Are you ready to change your approach?
  • Who are you designing for?
  • What value do you want to create – for them? for you?
  • Are your prepared to learn and adapt?

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