When I first heard the term “digital transformation” a few years ago, I didn’t like it. The buzzword reminded me of a throwback to the 1980s when digital watches and first-generation digital computers were first hitting the scene.
The term didn’t resonate as a description of modern enterprise technology. It also begs the question: what is digital transformation?
Since it is a buzzword created by industry analysts, there is no universal answer. Here are a few ways that we describe what digital transformation is:
There is an awful lot of hype and focus on enterprise technology. Cloud, machine learning, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and other buzzwords focus too much on the technology and too little on people and process – just as the term “digital” transformation does too.
Even though technology has changed quite a bit over the years, the things that make transformation initiatives have not changed much at all. Effective organizational change management plans, business process management, and other people and process aspects of a projects are much more important than the technology. Your project can succeed with subpar technology, but it can’t succeed without strong business process and people enablement.
ERP vendors are the biggest perpetuators of digital transformation hype. They would suggest that their new, cloud-based offerings are the key to transformation. Cloud ERP has reached the tipping point of adoption, but traditional ERP systems are not necessarily the answer to transformation needs.
Instead of getting caught up in SAP S/4HANA vs. Oracle Cloud ERP vs. Microsoft Dynamics and other technology decisions, we should be focusing more on how technology of all types can enable our transformations. Traditional ERP systems may be a part of that strategy, but there are plenty of other technologies that can help enable those changes as well.
ERP vendors and system integrators may tell you that their solution is the best and only answer, but that is not true. Every organization has different needs, so different technologies will fit with different digital strategies.
Defining a clear digital strategy is an important first step to a successful digital transformation. Your overarching company strategy, goals, and objectives should determine the digital transformation that makes the most sense to you.
To get started, it is important that you translate your corporate strategy into a digital strategy that is aligned with that overall direction. Every digital strategy that we have created looks a bit different since every company is different, which is to be expected.
It’s the only way to turn an overused buzzword into a pragmatic solution to address your business goals and objectives.