What is digital transformation?

This is a question that I have to keep asking - especially to those who are either given the title (or impose it upon themselves) of ‘subject matter expert’ - as it seems to be everywhere currently.

Organisations should apparently aspire to it, consultants can tell us how to do it, end users are told to embrace it, but like most on-trend terms there is no singular definition of it. This, it turns out, is for a very good and obvious reason - each organisation is different, and rarely operates in the same way.

Having spent a while trying to come up with a suitable answer to this question, and spoken to many people from many different industries, the answer I have come up with is this:

‘Digital transformation is primarily about shaping an organisation to be relevant.’

Eleven words to sum up what others will spend pages doing.

However, to get to those 11 words it is necessary to do some back-filling; for an organisation to be relevant in this modern world that we all live and play in a number of things must already be in place:

  • speed to market;
  • agility;
  • ability to exploit market opportunities;
  • desire to change.

The list can go on, but the idea is there.

Many organisations are playing a type of cat and mouse game that involves them trying to chase the start-up, the company that has been around five minutes and is taking market share from them already. It’s these newer companies that are using IT systems in a new way to ensure they have the competitive edge, the ability to update websites 5/10/20/50 times a day, who can do A/B testing and spin up new servers to cope with an influx of orders without websites crashing. It’s these types of companies that pose the biggest threat to anyone older than themselves.

The idea behind digital transformation is to ensure that those organisations that aren’t utilising their IT systems as efficiently as they could, do so, to remain relevant.

Whilst the term maybe still be relatively new, the philosophy isn’t. All organisations need to adapt to changing market conditions, and there has always been competition, but what makes digital transformation so relevant currently? Its focus is on IT systems. If organisations have not yet realised how instrumental IT is to the way they work then perhaps it’s already too late for them.

How about a new term: ‘digital transformation revolution’?

Dave Kelsey

Dave KelseyAs a product manager at BCS, Dave is responsible for the development of the IT Service Management products to ensure that people have the right skills that lead to the continued use and successful implementation of IT Service Management

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    Gareth Baxendale wrote on 11th Nov 2015

    Agree. The suggestion that an organisation should embark on a Digital Transformation project suggest they are not already exploiting the existing technologies which may not be true...

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IT service management is about delivering, supporting and managing IT services in an effective and efficient way. This blog provides a platform for experts across a variety of ITSM roles to share their insight and best practice for people to embrace new ideas to improve processes and performance.

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