Over the last five years or so, there’s been a lot of talk on the topic of “digital transformation.” However, there hasn’t been a generally accepted definition of what that term means, exactly. What is digital transformation? What does it mean for my organization? At Uniface, we embarked on a research project with Creative Intellect Consulting, Ltd. (CIC) and at the outset, put forward a definition that technology professionals and business leaders could agree upon. For the project, CIC presented the following working definition of “digital transformation” to 300 survey respondents, representing enterprise organizations, value-added resellers (VAR) and independent software vendors (ISV): Digital transformation is “the transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models, to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across the organization, in a strategic and prioritized way.” Ninety-seven percent of the 300 respondents agreed with the definition; 3% thought either they weren’t qualified to weigh in on a definition or wanted the definition to be a bit broader and not so focused on technology. What’s key in the presented definition is to notice where the responsibility of such a shift lays. The burden to ensure digital transformation within an organization does not only belong to the IT and technology teams; rather, digital transformation is a strategic responsibility shared by business leadership and IT. With that in mind, a successful digital transformation undertaking will span both IT and business leaders and should include:
- End-to-end technology solutions that support speed and integration;
- A systemic change that’s built with new technologies with existing systems and knowledge, but supports the new digital business;
- A wider group of professionals spanning departments who can work together to build and deliver an organization’s digital transformation roll-out;
- An ability to quickly develop and deploy increasingly complex applications.
Why does all this matter? Why is it important for organizations to embrace the digital transformation movement? In a word: relevance. In order to survive – and continue to thrive – organizations must begin to think strategically about how to marry technology and business goals. An organization’s ability to be innovative, foresee change, focus on what their customers want – and anticipate those wants -- will certainly be positioned to succeed well into the future. Now that we have a well-defined idea of what digital transformation means, we are better able to begin thinking about the strategic needs of our business and determine how IT can help to implement necessary changes. The health of the organization, its people and its clients depend on it.