The digital transformation hype

Digital transformation is everywhere, the phrase ‘digital transformation’ results in 8.7 million google search results, but what is the hype about really?  Just another fad, business model or technology.

Digital transformation should rather be named digital business transformation, as it is about transforming the enterprise from top to bottom – transforming the culture, leadership, processes and people to meet and preferably exceed the demands of customers through the use of innovation and technologies in the most efficient and effective way possible, all the while maintaining service excellence, agility and watching for new growth opportunities.

At this point leaders generally tell me that they have hired a chief digital officer, they have a digital strategy, have just purchased ‘cloud’ or some other new technology and that IT will handle it, no need to disrupt the entire business.


Many articles and conferences I have attended like to bring up Kodak as an example of what could happen to an organization if they don’t become digital, as if digital is an end result and the Kodak executives failed to realise that digital was the future. The uncomfortable truth is that Kodak did invest in digital, they created the bi-modal business model that allowed them to focus on their traditional business and a digital business, and they hired digital gurus and consultants to advise them and invested a lot of money in their digital initiatives.

The challenge with digital is that there are many options to consider, many paths that one can go down and it is never easy to be sure that the path you have chosen is the correct one. Digital transformation is really about remaining competitive in a market in which every industry is going to be experiencing changes at a rate never seen before and there will still be many casualties with stories like Kodak.

Customer Focussed

With all the uncertainty and options available in the digital era, the recommendation is to understand your customer, and the more recent phrase of obsessing about your customer –  surely that will ensure that you will be on track and your business will be saved. Not necessarily, as the meme’s on linkedin hightlight, such as “the lightbulb was not invented by continuous improvements of the candle”, and “if Henry Ford had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have responded better horses”, the truth is it is not as simple as asking your customers or giving them what they are asking for today. Tomorrow, the needs could be different, the demands could be different, the landscape could be different.


From a digital transformation perspectives there are no easy answers, what we do know is that if you are not providing your customers quality products or services in the channels of their choice and the times that are suitable to them, then you will definitely behind the curve and will probably watch your customers march off to your competitors.

Also, If your business is not automating where possible and becoming lean, agile and flexible then chances are you will not be able to adapt fast enough and compete with the disruption that will occur in your industry.

And even then, if you are not carefully watching the changes in the landscape which are not limited to your competitors or your industry and constantly watching for new innovations, opportunities and disruptions then more than likely you will be no different from the many businesses that are finding themselves being disrupted and left behind with old business models, outdated cultures and discarded by the constantly evolving business environment.

If you have any thoughts or ideas on how companies can evolve and transform, leave a comment below, I would love to hear about them.

Contact Metatrans today for an assessment of your environment’s digital maturity today!