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Digital transformation, an end or a means?

by Technologia
June 6, 2022
Digital transformation, an end or a means?

When it comes to digital transformation, everyone has their own interpretation. For some, it means setting up a website or making it transactional, for others it means integrating billing or customer relationship tools such as ERP and CRM... the spectrum is wide, and above all, it is wrong! By putting forward a "result", it implies that transformation is an end in itself... which it is not.

What is digital transformation?

A change of culture! In digital transformation, the important word is not digital and its corollary of more or less advanced technological evolutions. The important word is "transformation". Because it is first and foremost about the transformation of the corporate culture, that is to say the tools and processes, as well as the mentality of the teams, so that they are able to adapt to the changes that are coming (from the market, from the consumers, etc.) and thus ensure the sustainability of the organization.

Transforming for the sake of transforming is not on the agenda of any company that has a roadmap worthy of the name. Yet one can have a roadmap, or a strategic plan, and still make mistakes in their digital transformation approach. Hence the importance of putting safeguards in place.

Why does the organization exist?

It is legitimate and human not to try to start a transformation process: why change what works? Because it is precisely when everything seems to be going well on its own and automatic pilot is engaged that we need to question ourselves: the inertia that comes with the "so far so good" approach only masks the inability to detect the changes that are coming or that are already there. It is up to managers to look back at the raison d'être of their organization and ask themselves if they have lost sight of it. Let's illustrate this with two glaring examples.

Kodak... one of the world's largest manufacturers of silver-based photographic film. Today it has disappeared, because in rejecting digital photography, Kodak forgot that its mission was to provide its consumers with the possibility of making, preserving and sharing their photos (regardless of the medium)!

BlackBerry... which in its heyday occupied more than thirty percent of the cell phone market share. Today it has (almost) disappeared from the landscape because it lost sight of the fact that its business users wanted to have their own phone and not just use it for work.

For these companies, as for others, everything seemed to be running on rails and no clouds could come and block the horizon. Yet consumers were waiting for them with a brick and a lantern. Perhaps both could have avoided the worst if they had remembered what consumer needs they were supposed to meet.

How do you make sure you don't miss the train?

No one is a rocket scientist, and predicting market trends or consumer expectations is a high-flying sport. When Apple launches its first iPhone, no one knows how it will be received by the public and there are many doubts, even internally. Yet, the best service an organization can do for itself is to keep an open mind and look for inspiration externally... but also internally.

This openness allows the organization to remain alert and to evolve its strategic plan smoothly while remaining innovative. This way, it is easier to simply stop certain products or services, in favor of new ones with better potential. Although transformation favors the sustainability of the company, it does not mean that you have to put everything in question overnight. It is possible (and even advisable) to go step by step. Three elements are essential for a successful outcome:

Having identified the steps in question, especially those with the biggest risk factor.
Put in place real change management. This is not an option.
Rethink the user journey.
This is a lever for the whole transformation if it is mastered. This means making sure that the user is at the center of decisions and processes to meet their needs, regardless of the touch point. The user journey should provide data, which will help validate the user experience and improve it, even personalize it. This requires the integration of agile practices, beyond the I.T. circle.


Embarking on a digital transformation is not a trivial project, even if it is essential. It impacts the entire organization and will require the implementation of digital technologies (which will become faster and easier with the rise of cloud computing) and the support of teams. Fortunately, this is not a project that can be done alone. Because, as the saying goes, alone you move faster, but with several people you go further. By identifying and prioritizing projects, the organization can empower itself to make significant and incremental changes. These transformational changes will support the business objectives by increasing both customer satisfaction and the overall efficiency of the company... and its sustainability.

To go further

Digital transformation: assessing its relevance to your business

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