According to Forbes seven out of eight companies that try digital transformation fail. So what's going on?

Is Digital Transformation just another buzzword and service being sold to businesses that don’t really need it?

Like almost everything in the digital business world new ideas often get turned into a process, something to do while losing sight of the real reason for doing it.

In other words the process becomes all important, rather than the end result.

EG: You must do SEO, analytics, conversion rate optimisation, social media, content marketing and on and on it goes.

It’s easy for companies to get caught up in the “doingness” of something rather than focussing on what they are trying to achieve.

And the same thing is now happening with “digital transformation”.

The problem is that companies aren’t actually transforming, instead they are only attempting to transform by wedging new applications on old and brittle infrastructure.
Frankly, this is not transformation, this is stagnation. Harry Chemko, Getelastic.

There’s no denying that digital disruption is real, but focussing on digital transformation to deal with it may be a fool’s errand.

That’s because it takes your focus off the main game, which is always servicing a customer.

And unfortunately losing sight of the end goal is an all too familiar experience in the digital space.

By its nature it’s a technology obsessed industry and always looks for a technical solution to any problem.

But business, any business, is always a people and relationships business. People buy from people they trust and like. And lately that also includes businesses that behave appropriately and do the right thing by the community.

So if you really want to transform your business for the modern age you have to transform how you engage with people.

You need to look at what the customers are saying and doing, understand their values; then develop products and services that enhance their lives and their world.

That’s not a new idea, just one that seems to have been forgotten with many marketers’ fetish for all things digital.


So How Should Business Really Go About Digital Transformation?

As hinted above, the real trick is to focus on the customer. What do they want or need? What would they love? What are they hungry for?

Once you answer that question and start to develop products and services to fulfil those desires, then digital transformation will happen as a by product.

That’s because today’s customer is already digitally transformed. They expect services and products to be available digitally as well as physically. In fact they draw little distinction between the two worlds, to them it’s all one world and they expect any experience to be seamless between the two.

So if you want to attract and engage them as customers you will have to use digital technology as part of the process. It may be an essential part of the process, but it’s not what drives the real action.


Where the Real Transformation is

Many business commentators are proposing a whole process that companies have to work through to become digitally transformed.

That’s not how transformation works.

As Tom Peters keeps saying “Transformation either takes a weekend or it takes forever.”

In other words you either get it or you don’t.

You either get that digital services are an integral part of people’s everyday lives today, or you don’t.

But, the transformation is not in the recognition that you “need to go digital” but in recognising that today’s customers are behaving in radically different ways to previous generations.

If you get this then it will transform your thinking. Then you’ll be able to create new products and services that your customers want.

Then you will set about using all the available tools and technologies to deliver your products and services to your customers in the most engaging and beneficial ways.

This work happens after transformation, not before it.

Unfortunately the majority of businesses are yet to realise this. They are focussed on protecting their old ways of doing business. This leaves them highly vulnerable to disruption.

So disruption occurs as a result of mindset, not technology.

The companies that figure out how to cater for the modern customer will survive and thrive, those that don’t will fold.

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