21 September 2017

How digital transformation changes over time

In November 2013, Howard King, now Head of Customer Insight at Arcadia Group Ltd, got published in the Guardian with an attempt to explain the buzz phrase “digital transformation”.

He wrote about Transformation: “It’s a whole scale change to the foundational components of a business: from its operating model to its infrastructure. What it sells, to whom and how it goes to market. A transformation programme touches every function of a business; from purchasing, finance human resource, through to operations and technology, sales and marketing”.

About Digital Howard wrote:

“I think of it in the broadest sense as any technology that connects people and machines with each other or with information. Therefore, digital transformation is a visible wholesale restructure to avoid a tipping point caused by digital technologies and downstream market effects.”

More than 5 years later, I would like to add the following observation: digital brings speed. It is a fast moving ecosystem, where technology, behaviours, and priorities are in constant evolution. Digital brings new ways of thinking and working. Its disruption infuses every level of the company. Digital is happening now. It must be a high priority at all costs.

The new turn we see happening recently is that the real transformation is not about technology anymore, it’s about people. A human-centred approach to your digital transformation will bring sustainable change to your organisation.

It’s about finding and hiring the right talent. It’s about building the digital team that will infuse digital culture and help your business transform. It’s about the ability to execute the digital strategy that you have already planned so carefully; faster than anyone.

The era of 50-year company’s lifespan and slow business evolution is long gone, we’ve entered a fast-moving world where digital is an almighty sovereign. After years racing to fill in the technological gap, digital transformation takes a new, deeper turn that is led by people: expectations and behaviours have changed, and the digital-native generation won’t stop.