What is Digital Transformation?

Benefits of Digital Transformation and Its Definition

“Digital transformation” is one of those overused buzzwords that sounds self-explanatory, but the meaning of which can actually be hard to pin down.  So let’s start with a simplified definition.  “Digital transformation” defines the use of digital technologies to improve business processes, enhance customer experiences and ultimately boost overall business efficiency.

From enabling faster, more informed decision making and improving cyber security, to providing data-driven market forecasts and a more immersive customer experience, the applications of such technologies are endless and extremely varied.  For most organisations a digital transformation is an evolutionary process; an ongoing reaction to changing customer expectations, taking advantage of new and emerging technologies as they become increasingly available.  It’s not a single fix action, and should never be viewed as such.


While “Digital transformation” may seem like a concept firmly rooted in the present day, its origins stretch back as far as the 1970s.  This is when computers became a crucial aid in the field of design and manufacturing.  The 1980s then saw the proliferation of enterprise resource planning systems, and the 1990s heralded the arrival of customer relationship management tools.

However, it’s probably true that the concept has gathered pace in the last 10-20 years, and that’s largely down to…


The Drivers of Digital transformation


Digital transformation is largely driven by just two factors: customer expectations and new technologies.  In the last two decades individual consumers have become accustomed to a host of new technologies which have revolutionised access to information and made life far more convenient.  These technologies include but aren’t limited to: mobile devices, internet of things technologies, social media platforms and cloud computing.

Consumers now have certain expectations about the products they buy and the service providers they interact with.  For example, online portals for service management are now seen as the rule, rather than the exception, with users expecting to be able to manage their own accounts via such platforms.   Consumers have also become less tolerant of human error, with the expectation that technological checks and balances are in place to eliminate mistakes, and ensure flawless service delivery.


Large corporate pioneers such as Amazon and Uber could also be credited with leading the digital transformation charge. Such companies (among many others) have placed digital technologies at the heart of their service offering, delivering a ruthlessly efficient product in a personalised manner.


Developing a Digital Transformation Strategy

Before setting out on a digital transformation journey it’s helpful to have a strategy in place to guide you.  This will be as unique as your organisation, however for a successful transformation you should ensure your strategy aligns with two key principles:

  • Focus on the end user experience. You should start your digital transformation by considering what your customers will stand to gain.  Start with technologies which directly improve service delivery, and consider back-office solutions from the perspective of your customers – how will they benefit indirectly?
  • Take a broad view. Don’t focus too heavily on a singular solution or business domain, and instead look at the bigger picture.  The digital revolution shows no sign of slowing down, so your digital transformation should be seen as a long-haul journey, where change is incremental and gradually improves every corner of your organisation.

In our next article we’ll examine some of the technologies that you can deploy in your digital transformation, and consider the benefits these could bring to your business.


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