In the last couple of years, the fancy and sexy terminology the “Digital Transformation” has been used widely throughout most of the industries and become a trendy word. Over the past decade, we heard other similar words, for example, Digitizations, Information Era, Information Age, Digital Society, Information Society, Digital Business and more and more.
In my perspective, I see Digital Transformation as another marketing terminology more than a new science or knowledge.
As a new trend, a lot of job titles have been changed to match this trend as a way of transforming the company to be trendy, So, we can see titles like Digital Consultant, Head of Digital, Digital Architect, Digital Transformation Leader, Digital Advisor, Digital Solutions Leader, and a lot of others. You can just stick a digital or transformation on the title and you are trendy now.
Not just that, when you have a new trend. A new ecosystem will be needed so quickly, new companies become specialized in digital transformation, new frameworks, new tools, new training, new courses and specializations, new services, …etc.
Although, this established ecosystem, If we can analyze what actually digital transformation means and what are the skills required for professionals who are performing this, you will see a lot if matching with other terminologies were trendy one day.
I think there is no agreed definition yet for digital transformation, as I think it will be based on the context, here are some definitions I found on the internet from different sources.
Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society – Wikipedia cited from Stolterman, Erik; Croon Fors, Anna (2004). “Information Technology and the Good Life”
Digital transformation is the reinvention of an organization through the use of digital technology to improve the way it performs and serves its constituents. Digital refers to the use of technology that generates, stores and processes data.” – Search CIO
Digital transformation as the process by which business leaders harness the capabilities and advances of emerging technologies to digitally reinvent their company’s operations, products, marketing, culture and goals for future growth. – eMarketer
Digital transformation is the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy. – Brian Solis
Most of the definitions are around what business needs and how technology helps, how to minimize the gap between business and technology, how technology can transform the way business is operating, and how the business model can be re-imagined with digital technology.
Most of Digital transformation examples are around, the real business operation change in its products and process, the most famous examples are, Uber in the Taxi Industry, Airbnb in the Hotel Industry, and Amazon in the Retail industry.
How a company that does not own a car or hotel or store to transform the business process and reaches the customer with ultimate satisfaction using the digital platform existing today like, cloud computing, mobile technologies, user experience, advanced and predictive analytics, and others.
So, does it mean that if the company did not disrupt the industry it will not be considered as digitally transformed? I think no, it may be illustrated as the figure below retrieved from Brian Solis about the six stages of digital transformation. It is similar to the business maturity levels from another perspective and how business became mature over time to achieve this transformation.
So, if we go back to the definitions, I can see a lot of similarities with Enterprise Architecture, Technology Management, Strategy Management. They are all about what business needs and how the technology can help in deliver a new value to the business. How the change can be managed to ensure the actual adoption of the technology. How we can manage the lifecycle of technology to always have a competitive edge in the market.
One of the articles at Infoworld the writer said
Digital transformation, aka DX, is hot — and if you’re not doing it, your company will die and you will lose your CIO or IT leadership job. You’ll — shudder — be disrupted! Or fail the wrong side of the Innovator’s Dilemma.
I do not agree with this, I think if you are not innovative you will die, if you are not adopting the suitable technology to help your business grow and to become innovative you will die, not the digital transformation as a word.
A lot of articles have discussed the skill set and skill gap for digital transformation, most of the skill set is focusing on Interpersonal soft skills, such as Curiosity, leadership, Clarity, Confidence, Motivation, Passion, Thinking Ability, and others.
I can see a lot of similarities as well with The open group architecture framework (TOGAF) skills framework. That’s why the most of the changed titles are given to enterprise architects mainly.
In conclusion, I see the digital transformation as terminology is not something new. It is more marketing tactics to generate new businesses for the big information technology and business consulting companies as well, the ecosystem behind that. Moreover, There is no doubt that Digital transformation offered a new way of organizing, grouping and focusing on specific transformable aspects to increase the digitization projects success, although I believe that without real sponsor and leadership, the success is hardly guaranteed.
So, I would like to know your thoughts and how you see the Digital transformation? Do you see it as another marketing terminology or a new thing?