So what’s the big deal with Digital Transformation? Finding the reality behind the jargon


Typing ‘Digital Transformation’ into the search bar on LinkedIn currently brings up a staggering 5,820,001 results. That’s 5,820,001 people who are in some shape or form responsible for… what exactly? What does a Director of Digital Transformation even do? Investigating further, we find that people who currently have digital transformation in their title come from a variety of backgrounds – sales, channel management, marketing, and consultancy, to name a few. Could this be an indicator of where the transformation sits in the company?

Digital transformation is one of those terms whose meaning changes depending on who you are and your own position. What matters is that you are completely clear about these things:

  • What are the challenges your business is facing?
  • What is the most important change you need to make?
  • How can we make sure that the whole organisation is on board?

The important thing is that we are clear and specific in every case what we are referring to, whether that’s an updated process or a new set of software and kit. Realistically, digital transformation has been happening from day one of computers and software being used in business. Anyone who is using computing power, software and connected devices to implement a business process improvement change is undergoing a digital transformation to a degree. It is simply the change of processes from being human-driven to being digitally driven. “Transformation” can take place in any part of the business, from supply chain processes to customer interfaces; from data management to transaction processing.

However, it’s not always as easy as it looks. A Gartner survey found that only a relatively small number of organisations have been able to successfully scale their digital business initiatives beyond the experimentation and piloting stages. Marcus Blosch, Research Vice President at Gartner put forward the view that digital business demands different skills, working practices, organisational models and significant changes to culture and systems.

Digital transformation is not the magic wand of tech but takes a lot of planning and commitment. However, when done successfully, the results can certainly be impressive. For example, a well-known US direct-to-consumer retailer of name brand and private label merchandise wanted to increase efficiency in the order process and improve cross-sell metrics. Furthermore, the process of training new and existing staff was to be streamlined. Here, the digital transformation ‘sat’ within the customer service. Implementing software that enabled the company to modernise existing green-screen applications eliminated 50 seconds from the order processing time and improved the accuracy of first-time orders, as well as reducing training time by eight hours.

Processes can be transformed in all parts of the business. In the next example, improvements were needed to support the development team and help them manage projects better. A worldwide leader and innovator in the interactive entertainment sector struggled with the increasingly complex changes to applications and the frequency these changes occurred. Team members grappled with manual processes to develop, deploy, and manage applications to the point that leveraging development resources efficiently became nearly impossible. On top of that, keeping an eye on project status at different stages of the application development lifecycle proved difficult. It was time to move away from the manual processes and get that digital transformation started. Lifecycle management software was the solution in this case - processes were automated and accelerated development, teams communicated better through centralisation, and last but not least, compliance requirements were easier to document.

If you want to emulate the success of the above examples and transform your business from a caterpillar into a beautiful digitalised butterfly that it was always destined to be, make sure that you are very clear about what you want to fix first. And by all means, hire yourself a Director of Digital Transformation.

By Guy Tweedale, regional VP at Rocket Software