So many definitions, so little time. As the saying goes, there persists an air of confusion or misunderstanding around business’ most over-used buzzword, digital transformation. One of the several well-tread definitions of “digital transformation” breaks it down into people, processes and technology; that sounds simple enough.
Other definitions put the customer at the heart of the organisation, whereas the same could be said about process automation. Quite honestly, no definition is entirely wrong, but what has been cropping up more of late – and can be well defined – is the differences between digitisation, digitalisation & digital transformation. Let’s break it down.
Simply put, according to Gartner, this is the changing from analogue to digital forms, which may include digitising of services, channels, processes or business models that can lead to added value to the business, either through greater efficiency, cost reduction or increased revenue. It may not necessarily be a new way of doing business, but rather the foundational layer. This is the digitising of data or “hard-copies”, not the processes themselves.
Again, the definition from Gartner, it is described as “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities.” Other definitions consider the human interaction enabled by technology; i.e. less time-consuming tasks, more collaborative communication tools etc. In short, we are using technology to change the business model, change people and work management, processes and methodologies.
To bring about change requires leadership, and, in a nutshell, digital transformation cannot exist without clear direction and guidance. Automation, new tech and the sheer variety of digital projects aside, digital transformation is the over-arching strategy, the corporate culture, the intangible bits that come with embracing customer-first agile business.
What is your take on these three? When will “digital” just become “normal”? Will it ever? I’m certain there will be plenty of discussion, opinions and debate on this at Chief Digital Officer Africa.