Digital Transformation with CIOs & CTOs Part 2: What it is & What it is Not

Digital transformation can be a nebulous concept, shifting depending on who is defining it, what type of work they do, and what industry in which they work. We’re here to help clarify the definition, as well as explaining the flip side — what digital transformation is not.

What Digital Transformation is Not

We believe that looking at what digital transformation doesn’t do is a good place to start. 

Here’s a big one: digital transformation is not the act of simply replacing your existing processes with a matching digital version. Replicating an analog process or operation with something tech-based is part of digital transformation, but it doesn’t always involve a direct replication.

Also, digital transformation is not something that is fully based around the tech itself. If you focus too heavily on ensuring you have all of the right tech in place, you may be missing out on a vital component, which is ensuring that your personnel and your whole corporate culture is supportive of this type of transformation.

Digital transformation is not something that you can “set and forget.” It isn’t something that has a clearly defined endpoint. 

It’s also not something that fully replaces the human touch. You may have the idea that digital transformation means cutting out every face-to-face interaction or manual process, but that’s not always accurate.

So, what is digital transformation?

What Digital Transformation Is, And What it Can Do

The short version: digital transformation is the art of using technology to improve the efficiency or effectiveness of your company. 

Rather than replicating an analog concept into a digital, tech-based concept, digital transformation is all about truly transforming that concept into something that works better. 

For example, let’s say your staff performs a lot of data entry. An analog version of data entry might involve writing down customer information with a pen and paper. You might ultimately transfer that information to a computer, with someone manually entering the data. That doesn’t make the process more efficient, or better for your business, as it still takes a lot of time and leaves room for error. Even bypassing the paper and going straight to manual data entry isn’t really digital transformation either. 

In this scenario, true digital transformation might be something like an automated, self-serve system, where your customers enter their own information and the digital technology works to move it over to the right places in your company’s files and resources, without needing human input. That makes your work faster, more productive, and more accurate, which means you have used technology to transform your work for the better. 

On the human side of things, digital transformation should impact staff for the better, too. You can invest in all of the transformative tech you want, but if you do not have buy-in from the people who will be using it and guiding the transformation, it will not work.

Digital transformation is a holistic strategy. This means that digital transformation is just as much about the people as it is about the tech.

As you find the right tech and guide your personnel through the transformation, you should find that digital transformation is, in fact, a journey. It involves a lot of smaller goals that come together to form the larger goal of transforming your business. 

Technology is always changing. Your human resources will be changing. Your company, the industry, and the overall economic climate will shift over time. So, digital transformation is something that is different for each business. And it will be different for your own business as time goes on. There isn’t necessarily an end point to digital transformation. Your company should always be striving to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness. 

As you navigate digital transformation, you may find that you cannot or should not cut out face-to-face interactions and other human elements. As we explored above, the human and cultural element is important in ensuring that your digital transformation works, but on top of that, there may be things that technology simply cannot do as well as your personnel. 

Perhaps this is answering the phone when a customer wants to talk to a representative of your business, making sales calls or visits, or meeting with clients to go over plans, goals, issues, or other concerns best addressed in real life. True digital transformation aims to make your business better, which, in many cases, means using technology to support personnel, not replace them.

We’re pleased to be able to help you learn more about digital transformation. Keep an eye out for our next article in the series. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

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