What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation, otherwise known as “DX”, is something that seems to be everywhere these days. Everyone from your CIO to your grandma is talking about it, and there’s a good reason why. If you don’t know how to get involved with digital transformation, then you might be standing on the hull of an already-sinking ship.

After all, digital transformation is all about innovation, development, and evolving with the times. That’s why the term has shown up every time we’ve faced a major change in the digital sphere, from the 1990s to the mid-2000s.

So, here’s the million-dollar question: What is digital transformation, and how can you make it work for your business?

Defining Transformation ‘Aint so Simple

It appears everyone has an “opinion” on what digital transformation is. That’s why there are so many different blogs and articles out there that claim to define the term, only to give you a completely different perspective than you read just the day before.

If you filter through all the nonsense and get down to the nitty-gritty terminology that vendors and consultants have been using recently, you get a basic outline of digital transformation as: “The application of technologies that impact all areas of society and business”. A little vague, isn’t it?

Still, it’s up to you to figure out what that means to you and fast. If you haven’t been applying the latest and greatest digital technologies to your organisation over the last four decades, then you might as well not exist. The things that were “transformational” in the past, like cloud and mobile, have become commonplace, and new technologies are emerging.

Fundamentally, digital transformation means understanding what’s going on around you and responding to the changing technology accordingly. It means updating your digitized systems and processes, to create something that’s more efficient, more productive, and more incredible than ever. If that still seems confusing, let’s narrow it down a little further with one key word: Fungibility.

The Gross Word Behind Digital Transformation

Okay, so “fungibility” isn’t the prettiest word in the digital transformation deck, but it’s one of the most important ones. Fungibility refers to the ability for something to change. Now, here’s the tricky part – that’s not the same as being able to change something. Fungibility is an internal characteristic, not something encouraged by an external force.

In practice, this means that digital transformation involves designing something that can change easily with the times. That might sound simple enough, but it gets a little more complicated when you consider the fact that most of the work done to digitize IT has been conducted to prevent change. After all, we want identity, security, and validations to remain consistent.

So, if you want to make the most of digital transformation, you can’t just take the stability out of everything in your business, you need a tactical approach to fungibility.

The Tactics Behind Transformation

Now, here’s the bad news. When it comes to digital transformation, there’s no silver bullet or automatic solution that can transform you from an old-fashioned company, into something with the power of true digitisation. After all, digital transformation is not a one-time thing. Like other aspects of running a business, such as content marketing, it’s an on-going process that requires an in-depth understanding of various tactics and new solutions.

A tactical approach to the world of digital transformation focuses on using the latest tools and processes to deliver better and bigger results. Those tools are often based on new ideas, so they don’t mean replacing the tools that you’re already using. For instance, agile programming can help companies to break free from the waterfall model assumption that an entire application could be predefined and then executed by coders. While that process may be suitable for static software, it’s no good for applications that need to evolve and engage with people under variable situations.

Digital Transformation Means Thinking Differently

Easy peasy digital transformation? Not so much.

The unfortunate truth is that transformation isn’t simple. You’re going to need to work at it and work hard. Hopefully, what this article has done, has shown you that you need to think a little differently about how you can deliver products and processes that come through technology. Digital transformation means considering things from new angles, in the same way, you did when responding to the internet, the cloud, and mobile computing.

For most, different thought processes will be the most important factor in any digital transformation. After all, if your thinking stays the same, then you’ll just use new technology to do the same thing, and that’s the opposite of transformation.