Amid those thousands of words though, a quote from one man stands out from the crowd. As a technology expert and keynote speaker, Chilean Juan Pablo Rozas has spent more than a decade helping companies and public bodies overcome their digital challenges. With the ability to communicate complex ideas in simple terms and multiple languages, he is also the author of Digital Transformation Is Not Digital and has pinpointed why so many businesses fail when tackling DX.
“Just implementing technology alone does not produce a digital transformation,” Rozas said. “Changing an organisation by taking advantage of the potential of technologies does.”
No doubt that quote will resonate with many readers, those of you have watched with frustration as executives and managers talk up their ‘digital transformation strategies’ and ‘roadmaps for digital transformation’ and deliver little more than a new cloud-based server and upgrade of the office computers.
As Rozas says, that is not digital transformation. True digital transformation is about reimagining how an organisation does business with digital technology at the forefront of mind. From creating new business processes to enhancing team culture and customer experiences, it is an opportunity to use technologies to drive fundamental change that increases efficiencies, improves agility and ultimately delivers new value for employees, customers and shareholders.
It is also a journey and, like any great journey, a road map can come in very handy.
One only needs to google the phrase ‘digital transformation roadmap’ to find an array of definitions but a word of warning – do not be daunted by excessive talk of synergies, ideations and other corporate speak favourites. Too much language when it comes to digital transformation roadmaps is unnecessarily complicated when it could be summed up as simply as:
“A digital transformation roadmap is a plan to get your organisation from using your current digital process to using a new digital process.”
That’s right – as with other roadmaps, it’s all about creating a clear and concise route for how to get from Point A to Point B and that requires organisations to take stock of where they are now, where they want to be in the future and do their best to bring everyone along for the ride.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, this would be a good point to note how digital transformation differs from two other D-words you are likely to encounter on your own journey. ‘Digitisation’ and ‘digitalisation’ play crucial roles in the digital transformation process but they are certainly not one and the same.
This may be a mind-blowing concept for younger readers but there was a time when businesses kept all their records on paper. Some were handwritten in ledgers, others typed into documents and all were filed away for safekeeping. Then, if a team member wanted to gather or share information, they had to find the physical paperwork and prepare it accordingly. Of course, the dawn of the computer age changed everything and we now live in a world where new documents and files are stored electronically – but what about all that old paperwork? Enter digitisation - the process of converting analogue information and data into digital computer files. Examples include scanning a photo or recreating a ledger in Excel and while it is a time-consuming process, the benefits come when that information is available at the touch of a keypad.
Let’s start by saying what digitalisation is not. It is not using digital technology to change how you do business or create new types of businesses. Rather, digitalisation is when you use digitised information to make established systems and processes simpler and more efficient. Once upon a time, data was tucked away in a physical filing cabinet or archive. Now, thanks to digitisation, such material can be easily and quickly accessed via computers or mobile devices, making the likes of resolving customer enquiries or studying sales trends much faster. When it comes to digitalisation, the basic business process has not changed – just the efficiency and speed that it is completed.
Which leads us to digital transformation and the pursuit of not just doing old tasks faster but exploring entirely new opportunities. Whether changing the way business gets done or creating new categories of business altogether, digital transformation requires a definitive step away from traditional ways and toward more experimentation and creative thinking – and creating a comprehensive digital transformation strategy can be a game-changer.
As should be clear by now, digital transformation initiatives are all well and good but long-term rewards will only be reaped on the back of a coordinated digital transformation strategy. A survey of executives found more than a third of them believe the lack of a clear transformation is a key barrier to their business achieving its full digital potential. To avoid adding to that number, consider these key steps when developing your own road map.
Having inspired your digital transformation ambitions, it is now time for a reality check. Not everything goes to plan, not every innovation is a winner. Some organisations may fall behind on their DX journeys but they cannot afford to put them on the backburner. It is much better to identify potential risks and what is needed to stay on track. These include:
Digital transformation is not a destination. It is not about ticking a few boxes to achieve a goal and move on to the next corporate challenge. It is a journey that requires ongoing commitment across all levels of an organisation as the only thing more certain than new technologies being rolled out is your competitors will be waiting to embrace them.
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