Market & Technology Readiness
March 7, 2017
Cutting Through Complexity. Literally.
March 19, 2019

The Truth About Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the change in an organisation associated with the adoption of new technologies such as cloud computing, software applications and robotics.

Articulating The Actors & Vision

My thesis is that if we had a frame of reference for understanding the impact of digital transformation, we’d be better equipped to manage the investment in change. I want to understand the agents of change, their victims and the passers-by.

So, here’s the irreducibly simple frame of reference: Past, Present, Future.

What’s your legacy? What’s your current state? Where do you want to steer the ship?

You need to know where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going.

Start With The Why

Within a business context, a bit of executive extrospection reveals the push and pull forces behind the need for change, but it’s only through careful reflection of the internal mechanics of a business that we really begin to understand its wider, long-term impact.

There are 4 good reasons for embracing change.

  • Relevance – You won’t get left behind.
  • Efficiency – You can do more, faster.
  • Innovation – You create new value.
  • Success – You will make money.

A business that embraces relevance, efficiency, innovation and success as it relates to a change management programme (leading to digital transformation) is likely to achieve its goals only once it is able to articulate its vision to a wider audience. But how to do that?

Tell people where the business was, where it is now and then lay out the future states of the business based on a) a small investment b) a big overhaul and c) apathy.

Examine What You Want

When we talk about the pace of technological change, and how it’s increasing, we often examine it through the lens of the people that succeed (the transformed) and the people left behind (the others). We want to stay relevant with our customers, partners and employees. We want to do more with the hours in the day and make stuff go faster. We want a repeatable method for translating innovative ideas into market realities.

And of course, we have to be able to quantify the return on investment by a reduction in costs and an uptick in revenue. But you know what, the truth about digital transformation is that it’s not as difficult as you think. It has a beginning, a middle and an end state. We must be careful to ensure nobody gets left behind without good reason and that those ‘on the bus’ are the right people to lead change.

What About The Rest?

Digital transformation has little to do with the Internet, and everything to do with people. Whilst it’s tough to quantify at a societal level, we know something is here. We can feel it but we can’t see it. It piques the curiosity of many and invokes fear in many. Does our hyper connectedness make us an open society? Are the forces behind push and pull ready to be exposed? What we do hear reverberates throughout the echo chamber of social media.

Digital transformation is already under way. In case you haven’t felt these invisible forces push and pull your business over the last decade, know that we’re currently in the middle of the beginning of a fundamental economic, technological and philosophical shift that will rip apart the fabric of our reality and glue it back together with half-truth and pixels if not carefully managed.

Digital transformation has just started. And it’s getting bigger. And it will go fast.

And no organisation or corner of society will remain untouched.

When the only constant is change, how do we immunise ourselves against the existentially paralytic forces threatening the way we do business, the way we work, the reason for going to some places and not others, hell, even how we find love? How do we get ahead of that wave, or at best, cope with it?

The answer to this question is adaptive learning… We must examine our own lenses through which we see this world change and adapt to it lest we get left behind.

Comments are closed.