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Digital Transformation… a definition?

The definition of “Digital Transformation” varies widely, often as a result of the huge differences between companies. However, in general terms, I like the below due to its simplicity and focus

… the integration of digital technology into all facets of a business and results in a fundamental shift in how the business operates and how value is delivered to customers.

There are a number of key actors or roles within a digital transformation initiative, as discussed (albeit briefly) below. 

  • Leadership – True Digital Transformation can only be achieved with sponsorship at the highest level of leadership and with the change initiative cascading down throughout the whole organisation.
  • Culture – digital transformation is dependant upon a cultural change whereby the organisation is willing to continually challenge the status quo, become more agile in its ability to respond to customers and competitors, experiment more and accept that failure is a part of the process. This may mean entrenched (and perhaps still profitable) business processes may need to be replaced in favour of relatively new practices that are as yet completely defined.
  • Develop your talent – The best way to make your organisation more data-centric and digital is to selectively invest in those who are most adaptable, curious, and flexible in the first place. Since nobody knows what the key future hard skills will be, the best action is to bet on the people who are most likely to develop them (those with the intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn new hard skills).
  • Technology – Of critical importance in the actual role of technology – namely that technologies are enablers, not the drivers of a digital business transformation.
  • Data – Data is at the heart of digital transformation and it is critical that business leaders look at their data and how they will quickly cleanse, review and blend business-critical data from different systems across the organisation. 
  • Data governance – On top of the data itself, information governance is a key aspect that is often overlooked or given due attention (but is most certainly at the heart of emerging ‘born-digital’ new market entrants… so beware!). Data or Information governance is a set of defined roles, policies and processes used to manage data assets and ensure data integrity, quality and security. Good governance also increases the usability of data from internal and external new/existing sources and supports compliance with the ever increasing number of industry and government regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The above, and other roles, will be covered in more depth in a series of future posts.

Where to start?

One of the hardest questions in digital transformation is how to get over the initial challenges from vision to execution. For a few thoughts and some of my advice on this, please refer to the article – Digital Transformation… where to start?