Is Digital Transformation at Risk of Going from Business Imperative to Buzzword?
by Daniel Newman | August 22, 2016
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Technology has transformed our lives. From improved healthcare to better entertainment, it’s hard to imagine an area untouched by the digital transformation. It’s equally hard for anyone to imagine what will happen next, but I do know that business, sales, marketing and everyday life will continue to change as a result of new technologies.

Embrace the Concept, Ignore the Buzz

As a buzzword, digital transformation is something you can’t get away from—it’s in the articles and blog posts on your feed, the C-suite is talking about it, and your uncle is wondering what it means for his dry cleaning business. Initially a digital imperative, the concept has hit with the strength of a trend. But, like so many other business trends and buzzwords, will it soon turn cliché and then fade into society’s collective memory?
I don’t think so. In the age of Digital Darwinism, businesses must constantly evolve to stay competitive—we call it digital transformation today, and tomorrow we may call it something else. Regardless of the words we choose, digitization helps your business stay competitive in your field— but only if you approach it as a process instead of a buzzword.

Evolve and Your Business Won’t Need to Transform 

Transformation is a whole-scale change that affects every aspect of a business, from marketing and sales to finance and human resources. Businesses are understandably slow to begin such a change—it takes consideration from the top-down, it requires extensive work, and it can by risky. Transformation (a word suggesting a beginning and an end) is what you use when your business has failed to evolve. If you aren’t keeping up, you may need a top to bottom change. On the other hand, if you make evolution part of your business plan—implementing technology as it comes along instead of struggling to catch up—you’ll not just keep pace with your competitors, but surpass them to become a technological trendsetter. And when you run a business that leads the way in technology, your company also lead your fields in your core competency, too.

Incorporate Change Throughout Your Business

Last month, I discussed how businesses and company culture need to stay agile to keep up.  Agility is part of a strong digital transformation campaign. The adoption of new technologies should impact all areas of your business. When you include company culture in that equation, then your entire team is ready to evolve—and it’s not so much a comprehensive transformation as an obvious change. Everyone can easily and readily adopt. Being agile enough to evolve as your industry and tech does is crucial for your organization’s future.

Embrace a Strategic Campaign for Advancement 

Market and finance are no longer the only drivers of IT. Technological advancement has an unlimited reach in nearly every imaginable field. Ignore it at your company’s peril.

Of course, it’s important to consider what’s driving the transformation in your company. Is it your business strategy or technology itself? It may be a bit of a chicken and egg argument, but the two are inextricably linked. For any business to have a successful digital transformation campaign, the two must work in tandem. Embracing a new strategy can be a challenge for some organizations, but I it doesn’t have to be—especially if you start now to keep pace with changing technology. What drives your industry should be driving your business’ transformation.  If your company doesn’t change, a digital transformation will be much harder to achieve as your competitors outpace you. By making digital transformation part of your business strategy, now, you’ll be set to continue evolving in the future.

Think of it like a house plant. Once you situate it in your window, it’s doesn’t need constant supervision to survive; a bit of sun and water from time to time should keep it going. Without that, it shrivels. Reviving a dead plant is much more challenging than keeping one watered. Once you start the process—whether we’re talking about gardening or IT—it just needs upkeep. But that upkeep is crucial.

Understand the Fuel of Technology 

Three factors fuel technological headway: changing customer demands, changing technology, and changing competition. When the competition embraces something new, you’re expected to do the same. If your customers expect up-to-date technology, you must deliver. But the companies that stay one step ahead of their competitors and customers—adopting technology before the market demands it—are the ones poised to lead.

Today I can scan my cell phone against a pad and instantly pay for a hot coffee. In the future, we may need nothing other than a fingerprint or iris scan to finish such a transaction. Progress never tires and it never sleeps. The digital world is obviously more than just a trend, and digital transformation—or, more specifically, digital evolution—is more than a one-and-done deal.

Photo Credit: trafficus via Compfight cc

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio