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Digital Transformation Series: Part 7 — “What happens during Digital Transformation?”

As I had promised last week, this is where we start getting into the meat of what digital transformation is all about. And no, we are not going to be rolling out definitions — Google does that quite effectively. In this 9 part series, I have dedicated the first 6 to describe the benefits of Digital Transformation through different personas and perspectives, through stories of real people and their fears and genuine challenges. This and the next two segments will be dedicated to the core of the subject and I will try to focus on how best to explain this with examples and in as simple terms as I can.

When people think of Digital Transformation, they often picture huge piles of paper disappearing from desk tops and being converted to computer screens. And I mentioned this in Part 1 where it was called ‘computerization’. It is true that it may involve a great deal of ‘computerization’. But in reality, it is much more than that. It is a holistic exercise that connects the different departments, functions and silos of an organization using data … and to use a fancy term, it is an ubiquitous optimization across all areas. It basically translates into saying that it works across people, processes and tools (technology) in creating value for the organization, building the capability in its people and other resources to quickly adapt to the changing needs of the market.

It is a common practice to equate Digital Transformation to Customer Experience and only that. Customer and the experience to the customer is definitely at the core of Digital Transformation but what we fail to see here is that in order to deliver exemplary customer service, the effort and the ground work has to be done across the board. And again, your definition of your ‘customer’ is misleading … your customer is not just the guy at the fag end of the product journey who buys your product, your customer is a complex being comprising of multiple stakeholders along the way. All these elements need to be working in perfect synchrony almost like a neatly arranged line of dominoes for the effect to be par excellence. The external focus of transformation appears to be on the edges but the dance that needs to make the changes at the periphery needs to happen from within and from all sides.

In Part 6, I have referred to the importance of data in transformation. Data is the fuel and the product of Digital Transformation. It is not just the collection of data at the periphery, but the analysis, the correlation, and the dissemination of the information, knowledge and intelligence that this data provides that is key. It is this insight that makes companies flexible and agile to pivot quickly in markets that are fickle.

Digital Transformation comes in different flavours in different industries. In retail, you get to see fully automated stores, same day deliveries and competitive pricing; in manufacturing it may be better supply chain management, automated processes; in utilities perhaps green technologies and transparent pricing; in healthcare, remote monitoring, embedded chips and online care; in banking fin-tech opportunities are aplenty. The list can go on …

The challenge of Digital Transformation is that it is not something that you can do in isolation. Neither can you do this while keeping all else on hold … the show must go on.

“Digital Transformation involves managing the existing business and building for the future at the same time, something like changing the engine of the plane while in flight.” — Ashutosh Bisht, IDC


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