Digital Transformation – UNDER Investigation

Digital Transformation has become such a buzzword that many have lost sight of its true meaning. This article seeks to define Digital Transformation by answering the investigative question of What, Why, Who, When, Where and How. You may decide which given answers are True and False. I just did the first question to get you started.

What is Digital Transformation?

False     Digital Transformation is just a new word for digitization and automation. It converts analog to digital data and manual procedures to IT-enabled business processes. Digital Transformation is attained through the implementation of cutting-edge technology.

True      Digital Transformation refers to a change in the normal way of doing business with the aim of competing in an increasingly digital world. New technology is primarily an external business driver and often an internal accelerator, but not an essential ingredient. 

Why do we need Digital Transformation?

              Since everyone is talking about digital transformation, one can either join the bandwagon or be obliterated by the competition. In today’s world of disruptive innovations, a business can’t survive without using technologies like Cloud, Big Data, AI and IoT.

              Digital transformation is largely market-driven and necessitated by changes in power, behavior, and expectations on the part of the buyer. Digital transformation is to a lesser extent driven by the need for businesses to be more efficient in their operations.

Who gets involved in Digital Transformation?

              Digital transformation seeks to enhance the customer experience, so customers and customer-facing staff get involved. Since Digital transformation requires change in organizational culture and practices, everyone from directors to office workers needs to be included in the process.

              Digital transformation is primarily the responsibility of the CIO and the IT department working with external management consultants and global IT vendors. The board, management and end-users only get involved when there is a compelling need.

When do we embark on Digital Transformation?

              You are probably miles behind in your Digital Transformation, so what are your waiting for? Connect your coffee machine to the IoT, move your data and apps to the Cloud, perform Big Data analytics on your Inbox and replace your staff with AI.

              As a first step, assess the importance of Digital Transformation to your organization and its maturity in terms of technology, processes, data, management and leadership. Take time to develop a road map, but go for the quick wins once you have a valid business case.

Where do we start with Digital Transformation?

              Digital Transformation initiatives need to balance the needs and capabilities of the organization, and require defined metrics to measure their effectiveness. Staff productivity, process automation, team collaboration, and digital marketing are obvious starting points.

              It really doesn’t matter, one can start anywhere and try a bit of everything. Soon enough you will be able to tell what works and what doesn’t. In any case life is a cycle and you learn best from your mistakes.

How do we manage Digital Transformation?

              Digital Transformation is enhanced with Agile practices that deliver worthwhile customer experiences in rapid cycles, since customer expectations are forever changing. The buy-in to Digital Transformation also requires effective change management and visionary leadership.

              The success of Digital Transformation depends on multiple factors. It therefore requires long-term business strategies, detailed annual work plans and tight control on the execution of tasks and activities. No need to break with tradition and what has worked in the past.


The meaning of Digital Transformation has been misunderstood due to ignorance or misrepresented due to vested interests. This article should help you to discover what Digital Transformation really means for your business.

Have a go at the True and False answers. I will try to buy you a cup of analog coffee prepared by a manual process when you get all of them right!

I would be delighted if you could leave a comment to share your thoughts and experiences with Digital Transformation. We all have so much to learn.

About Author:

Willy Simons came to Kenya from The Netherlands in 1994. He is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Oakar Services, Esri Eastern Africa and Spatiality. He blogs about business, geospatial technology and cloud computing.