We're Viewing Digital Transformation All Wrong - Here is Why

Written By: Kyler Cheatham
Date: August 23, 2022

Digital transformation can be defined as the process of using digital technologies to create new or improved business processes, products, or services. This can be done to improve performance, gain a competitive advantage, or simply keep up with the latest changes in technology.

But unless you're writing a scholarly article or an essay for your

Traditional there are four main types of digital transformation:

1. Process transformation: This type of digital transformation focuses on improving or automating business processes. It can involve the use of new technologies such as process mining and robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline workflows and improve efficiency. It can also be as simple as process mapping and system architecture.

2. Product transformation: This type of digital transformation involves using new technologies to create new products or services, or to improve existing ones. It could involve the development of new customer-facing applications or the use of data analytics to improve product quality.

3. Business model transformation: This type of digital transformation focuses on changing the way a business operates. It could involve moving from a traditional brick-and-mortar model to an online one, or developing new revenue streams through the use of digital technologies. We observed many of these types of transformations forced on organizations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

4. Organizational transformation: This type of digital transformation involves changes to the structure and culture of an organization. It can be necessary when introducing new digital technologies or processes, or when embarking on a business model transformation.

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This is an important foundation, but the way organizations traditionally view digital transformation needs both a literal and figurative upgrade.

#Transformationjokes aside, the traditional definition and scope of digital transformation are too narrow. While process, product, business model, and organizational transformations are all important aspects of becoming a digital business, they don’t paint the full picture.

Technology is a constantly evolving relationship.

For one thing, technology has become more ubiquitous and embedded into nearly every aspect of our lives—and businesses are no exception. It’s no longer enough to view digital transformation as something that happens within the four walls of your organization. Instead, it needs to be thought of as a journey that starts with the customer and extends outward to include your ecosystem of partners and suppliers.

This should include consideration and feedback from the entire organization—not just the IT department. Too often, digital transformation is seen as something that’s driven by technology, rather than business needs. As a result, it fails to take into account the people and processes that are essential to making change happen.

What’s more, the traditional definition of digital transformation doesn’t account for the fact that technology itself is constantly evolving. What might be considered “digital” today could quickly become obsolete tomorrow. For example, companies that have embraced social media as part of their digital transformation strategy need to continuously adapt as new platforms and trends emerge.

The same can be said for companies that are using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). As these technologies advance, so too must how they’re being used. To keep up, companies need to make sure they have the right talent in place—and that they’re prepared to continuously learn and experiment.

Finally, the traditional definition of digital transformation is often too narrowly focused on short-term gains. While it’s important to realize benefits quickly, digital transformation is a long-term journey. To be successful, companies need to think about how they can continue to evolve and adapt over time.

It’s time for a new definition of digital transformation. One that’s more expansive, inclusive, and forward-thinking. One that starts with the customer and includes the entire ecosystem. One that takes into account the ever-changing landscape of technology. And one that recognizes the need for continuous learning and experimentation.

People and culture are just (if not more) important than the software.

Furthermore, digital transformation is not just about technology; it’s also about people and culture. To truly transform, businesses need to rethink the way they attract, engage, and develop talent. They also need to create an environment that supports innovation and encourages employees to experiment with new ideas.

Especially with emerging technologies like AI and predictive analytics, nowadays any new technology is a significant change for an organizational community. New tech is great but it's important to understand the balance between innovation and too much change.

One of the main reasons change is hard on organizations is because it can be disruptive to employees. Change can mean new roles and responsibilities, which can lead to feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. What’s more, employees may resist change because they’re comfortable with the status quo. They may also lack the skills and knowledge needed to embrace new ways of working.

Change can also be tough on organizations because it can be difficult to align everyone around a common goal. When people are working in silos, it’s tough to get everyone on the same page. And when there’s no clear understanding of what needs to be done and why it’s even harder to get people to buy into the change.

A company culture that’s resistant to change is likely to impede the progress of a digital transformation. On the other hand, a company culture that’s open to change is more likely to embrace new technologies and ways of working.

To ensure a successful digital transformation, it’s important to align the company culture around the goals of the transformation. This means creating a shared understanding of what needs to be done and why. It also means establishing clear roles and responsibilities. And it means creating an environment that supports innovation and encourages employees to experiment with new ideas.

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It's a marathon, not a sprint.

A digital transformation is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing journey. As technology and customer expectations continue to evolve, businesses need to continuously adapt and change to stay ahead of the curve.

To be successful, businesses need to think about digital transformation as a long-term journey. They need to have a clear vision of where they want to go and what they want to achieve. They also need to put the right people and processes in place to support continuous learning and experimentation.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation because every business is different. What works for one company may not work for another. Digital transformation is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. It’s important to tailor the approach to the specific needs of the organization.

Digital transformation is not a goal; it’s a journey. It’s an ongoing process of adaptation and change. And it’s something that businesses need to continually invest in if they want to stay ahead of the curve.

The traditional view of digital transformation is too narrow.

To have realistic expectations and optimize projects for success, we need to evolve with the technology. Too often, businesses think of digital transformation as a one-time event or a single project. This is a mistake.

Digital transformation is a full business transformation and should be viewed and supported as such. This process is an integration of digital technology and a comprehensive approach that must align operations with enterprise business strategies.

If you have questions about digital transformation or want to talk about strategy regarding your existing project, please feel to reach out to me directly. Happy to be an informal sounding board and advisor.

I also recommend downloading our newly release 2023 Digital Transformation Report. It's packed full of industry insights and strategies to ensure your project is set-up for success.

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Kyler Cheatham
Kyler Cheatham is a digital artist and innovator who is always thinking of new ways to improve the world around her. As the Global Marketing Director at Third Stage Consulting, she uses her creativity and tech-savvyness to help businesses reach their target audiences. Kyler is also a thought leader in the digital marketing space, and she loves sharing her knowledge with others. She is also a mother of two young children, which has given her a unique perspective on balancing work and family life.
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