Editor’s Note: This a guest post by Romi Mahajan and Srini Venugopal
For most organizations of any appreciable size, “Digital Transformation” is either already in process or being discussed at the highest levels. The idea that Digital networks, tools, processes, and innovation can propel an organization forward with unprecedented speed and scale is no longer thought of as futuristic. As they say, the future is here already.
The term Digital Transformation says a lot especially when one considers the opposite. Though an indelicate phrase, “Analog Stasis” would be the opposite: no leader in her right mind would want an organization that neither embraces technology nor seeks change. Thus, Digital Transformation is an evolutionary concept that forces the organization onto the right path.
Reality, however, is always messier than theory.
While the term “Digital Transformation” is indeed powerful, the idea misses an important point- namely that there are no panaceas. “Digital Transformation” too often does (but should not) imply a silver bullet for success. Just because something is digital doesn’t mean it adds value. Transformation, too, can be negative or neutral just as easily as it can be positive.
So what sort of transformation should business leaders preside over?
The real question for an organization is how it “transforms digital” into a set of channels and methodologies that work in its own context. We must go from talk of “Digital Transformation” to talk of “Transforming Digital.” Digitization is a given, but how an organization digitizes its processes and channels is not trivial.
Sustainable Digital Transformation calls on us to transform digital into a usable set of principles, systems, campaigns, and innovations that either fit into the organization’s culture or helps to transform culture. Brute force digitization doesn’t work.
Take for instance the connection between digital marketing/advertising and sales: Countless companies went headlong into Digital Marketing conceiving of it as if the Second Coming. They diverted resources into a generic digital strategy that had nothing to do with their own context or even ability to follow up and manage. This is the first sin of “Digital Transformation”-the generic and non-contextualized diversion of resources based on a philosophical “positivism” or “silver bullet” strategy.
We’re far beyond the stage in which mere talk of digital confers gravity on the speaker. We must move from generic “Digital Transformation” to transforming “Digital.”
Romi Mahajan is the the CEO of KKM Group, a boutique consulting firm that offers marketing, strategy, and content guidance to exeuctives. Romi is also on the board of Socedo.
Srini Venugopal is the Direct eCommerce Product Management at Epicor