Digital Transformation: Seriously?

06 Dec 2020 » Opinion

Many years ago, my grandmother told me that she did not understand why I received a salary for spending the whole day behind a computer. In comparison, my grandfather had been a captain in cargo ships and a pilot. Although I did not ask her what troubled her, I assumed that, for her, a computer was just another machine and mainly for gaming. To make money, you had to do “something”.

If you are reading this, I am 99.99% sure that you are in the same situation as me. Many of us spend the day working with our computers. Sometimes with even more than one at a time. Not only this, the computers we use, are continuously getting more powerful. My first laptop had an Intel 80386SX, 2MB of RAM memory and an HDD with 40MB. 28 years later, I am writing this blog post with an Intel Core i7 vPro 8th Gen, 16GB of RAM and an SSD with 250GB. Oh, I also forgot to say that I have 3 screens in front of me. In summary, in the last few decades, we have moved from a society where computers were just giant mainframes only for a few, to simple personal computers, to having computers at the centre of almost everything.

Digital World

Why am I explaining all of this? Simple. In 2020, there are still many big companies who are reluctant to do any digital transformation. Some very well-known retailers do not even have an online shop. If we think of maturity as an exponential curve, it looks like some companies have reached a certain level and have stopped there. They do not want to continue with the progression. Don’t get me wrong, I understand their views and even empathise with them. It costs money and brain effort to keep on evolving. Doing things the way they have always be done is so comfortable…

The problem with this approach is that the world around us is moving faster and faster. As with my computers, the evolution of digital marketing has not stopped in the last 20 years. As an analogy, I like the story of the Red Queen’s race, where Alice is constantly running, only to stay in the same spot. Many of the clients I have worked with embark in digital transformation projects to be ahead of the competition. Otherwise, they would be outrun by this same competition.

Definition of Digital Transformation

Just to make sure we are all on the same page, let me explain what I mean by Digital Transformation. I particularly like Techradar’s description (emphasis added):

Digital transformation refers to the incorporation of digital technology across all areas of a business, changing how the business operates.

It also states that it is not a matter of providing mobile phones to employees; it is much more than that (emphasis added again):

Digital transformation goes beyond simply injecting some digital into the business model. For example, adding a digital app, changing to a digital phone system, or choosing a business analytics vendor are really extensions and optimizations of existing services, while transformation goes more fundamentally to the heart of the organization that digital transformation is referring to.

In other words, it is a fundamental change in the way a company works internally, not a cosmetic change. I gave some examples of these changes in my data-driven marketing post.

Why so much fuss about it?

What really surprises me is that many medium and large companies do not even consider it as a priority. Others just us it with PR purposes, trying to show the rest of the world how modern they are. I admit that not all companies in the world need it. However, as we dive deeper into the XXI century, there will be less companies that can safely say the are OK in their “analog” world.

To me, digital transformation should not even be something that is talked about, it should be something big companies should be quietly doing. I would like these two words to stop being a buzzphrase.

Finally, I want to state the obvious: this is just my point of view. I would love to read yours!

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