A Clear Digital Transformation Definition for the C-Suite
The digital transformation definition has changed over the years. It once meant simply “digitizing processes.” But this definition quickly became outdated.
If you are looking for a concise, and arguably timeless, digital transformation definition, you have come to the right place. Let’s get to it.
Digital Transformation Definition
Digital Transformation – The ongoing effort of an organization to reach digital maturity, by adopting the latest technologies in order to improve processes, strategies, and the bottom line.
To further understand what this means, we can break down each key element of this definition.
Digital Transformation is Ongoing
Digital transformation became a term decades ago, and at that time largely meant digitizing. But today, a company needs to leverage digital tools to be more competitive, not just more digital.
Going forward, companies will need to harness machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things (IoT) to be preemptive in their business strategies, rather than reactive or presumptive.
And after that? We can only speculate. Technology is advancing at a faster pace than we can adapt to it. What is clear is that digital maturity is a moving target, which makes digital transformation ongoing.
Digital Transformation is Reaching for Digital Maturity
Digital maturity is an elusive, moving target.
Analysts and researchers from credible institutions have outlined the phases of digital transformation which ultimately end with digital maturity. The best of these explains that digital maturity is achieved when an organization uses technology in the core processes and operations and is agile in adopting new technology.
Few companies are considered digitally mature, and even then, their strategy will need to continuously evolve to take advantage of the next generation of opportunities in the digital economy.
Digital Transformation is Adopting the Latest Technologies
Buying and developing the latest technologies is the first step in digital transformation. But, adoption means much more than simply having a digital asset available. True digital adoption means that employees, leadership, suppliers, partners, customers and other stakeholders, actually make use of the full potential of their digital tools. These tools are there to serve them, but if they are not adopted, they serve no one and no purpose.
Digital transformation must include a cultural transformation as well. The organization must become tech-first, both inside and out. While having a digital system in place is necessary, there must also be a tangent effort to get people onboard with using it.
Digital Transformation is Improving Processes, Strategies, and the Bottom Line
Of course, the purpose of digital transformation is not just to be digital, it’s to be better. Filling out a vacation request online is not inherently more efficient than doing so with paper unless there is an improvement in the process itself or the information we get from it.
Digital tools open up unlimited potential for how we design our processes, how we shape our strategies, and how we improve our bottom line. When technology is fully adopted, we can operate within a digital space where optimization is easy to justify (with data) and easy to do.
Each digital asset a company employs should be able to make money, save money, or save time, if not all three.
Why the definition changed
The digital transformation definition went through a major change in the last ten years. It was once a term that only concerned IT. The IT department would put a system in place, and that tool would operate of the periphery of business as usual. But today, technology is being used to capture and understand huge amounts of data, automate processes, streamline departments, and open up opportunities never seen before.
Because the possibilities are so vast and far-reaching, digital transformation has become a focus for organizational leadership. All of the C-suite, including the CEO should have a hand in the digital transformation of their company. Technology has a stake in every department, so it only makes sense that leadership direct the vision and pave the path forward.