Just like ‘dot com’, ‘virtualisation’ and ‘cloud’ before it, ‘digital transformation’ is the current computing industry fad; everyone’s talking about it and making plans to realise it.
OK, so ‘fad’ is more than a little disingenuous, but what does it actually mean in a practical sense for large public and private sector organisations? And why call setting the strategy ‘an incompletable jigsaw’?
I’ll start with what I believe to be three negative, but important, tenets:
- Digital transformation is not applicable to all organisations
- Digital transformation is not about technology
- You will not reach the end of your digital transformation journey
Given those rather sobering supporting ideals, why would you bother? Well, how about if we rewrite using positive language:
- Organisations that are candidates for digital transformation unlock considerable value from their data
- Business improvement leads to digital transformation, of which cloud technology delivered by agile techniques will power the change
- Fulfilment of a digital strategy is a process of constant iteration, using feedback to change and enhance the initial objectives, while accepting new goals will be unearthed which will build value
The last point is possibly the most profound and hence the reference to the ‘incompletable jigsaw’. A true digital strategy has latitude to change and adapt given that it will be delivered over many months or years. This means it needs to be flexible, so you change or remove any of the component pieces and add new strands that bring further value.
How ‘paperless office’ led to digital transformation
There have been many attempts over the years to achieve the utopia of a ‘paperless office’, but previous initiatives floundered because of technology limitations and concerns over security. Organisations created internal electronic silos of information that had a lot of potential value, but this couldn’t be easily released to a wider audience. The mainstream emergence of cloud in all its forms has enabled this ‘digital revolution’ and so accelerated business process transformation to take advantage.
So what is digital transformation and a digital strategy?
Digital transformation is how business process re-engineering is realised, particularly for organisations that can or need to interact with large swathes of people via the internet. It’s how manual processes or data access can be transformed, enhanced, replaced or automated using cloud-based technologies. In its most crude explanation, it’s how information and transactions can be moved online. A digital strategy maps out how this will happen, and what’s needed to achieve the goals.
In part two, I’ll explain the ethos behind our digital strategy.