Digital Transformation – what does it mean?

Digital Transformation – what does it mean?

December 13, 2021

No matter the size of your business, digital transformation is essential. As the world becomes increasingly digital, it seems that all voices are united in their stance that technology is the key to remaining competitive and relevant. But many are still unclear as to what digital transformation means, how it can deliver for business and of course - is it really worth it?

What is digital transformation?


A term so widely used that it has become vast in meaning, in reality, digital transformation will look different for every company. In basic terms, we can define digital transformation as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how it delivers value to customers. However, there is great nuance beyond the initial integration to be observed, noticeably cultural change that requires businesses to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure. This sometimes means walking away from long-standing business processes that companies were built upon in favour of relatively new practices that are still being defined. 


But where to start?


Digital transformation should begin with a problem statement, a clear opportunity, or an aspirational goal. The "why" of your organization's digital transformation might be around improving customer experience, reducing friction, increasing productivity, or elevating profitability, for example. Or, if it's an aspirational statement, it might revolve around becoming the absolute best to do business with, utilizing enabling digital technologies that were unavailable years ago.


It is vital to remember, however, that digital transformation means different things to different people: to some, it’s moving to the cloud, to other Artificial Intelligence. At Netherside, we emphasise the need to unpack the meaning for your business when discussing digital transformation in order to lead strategically.


Why does digital transformation matter?

New and transformative technologies were rapidly entering the workplace even before the pandemic, enabling businesses to innovate and thrive in an increasingly digital world. 


But then 2020 happened, and what was supposed to take years had to happen in only a few months or less. 


Digital transformation has been key in responding to the disruption of work and business ecosystems, and most businesses ramped up their efforts to meet this sudden change. Eight in ten organisations fast-tracked their digital transformation programmes in 2020, according to Dell’s Digital Transformation Index 2020, which surveyed over 4000 business leaders globally. 


In addition, 89% said the pandemic highlighted the need for a more agile and scalable IT environment. A business may take on digital transformation for several reasons. But by far, the most likely reason is that they have to: It's a survival issue. In the wake of the pandemic, an organization's ability to adapt quickly to supply chain disruptions, time to market pressures, and rapidly changing customer expectations has become critical.


Consumer behaviour is undergoing seismic shifts, and at the moment it’s too soon to guess which of these changes will stick long-term and which will revert. However, it is clear that digital has been accelerating in just about all sectors and industries. Furthermore, a large proportion of the workforce continue to work remotely and employee experience of digital technology has shifted to become an essential tool to achieve goals, the same principles will also apply here.


If you are yet to get started on your digital transformation journey, don’t fear. It can sometimes feel like a lost cause if one is it read all the praise lauded on mega-corporations who are excelling with technological integration. However, behind these successes are stories of strategic failure and lessons to be learnt by businesses now. At Netherside our team of strategic advisors are here to support you through this process and ensure that any technological integration will deliver improvement to your business and more importantly, its value.


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