Digital transformation is a term that's thrown around a lot, and it has many organizations scrambling to figure out if they're prepared. But in many ways it's a misunderstood concept.

Digital transformation doesn't come with a neat checklist of items brands can tick off to say that they've "transformed." It also doesn't mean that you have to become the next Uber of your industry.

If you are taking the necessary steps to strengthen your company against disruption, taking advantage of all the ways technology can help you improve your internal processes and make your customers' lives easier, then you're transforming to some degree. In fact, digital transformation can take many shapes, and understanding the common myths around can help ensure you don't miss an opportunity to make an important, and in some cases necessary, shift.

Myth 1: Digital transformation has to happen fast

Not every problem needs a major overhaul to solve it and not every idea will be a homerun. Sometimes the problem you're solving for isn't as prevalent as initially thought, and other times it's the latent problem you have yet to discover that's the real issue at hand. But in the rush to rapidly transform through innovation, these details and foundational elements are often missed.

Take the time to get to the root of the issue before throwing technology at the problem. Have you identified the real need in your industry, market or internal operations that necessitates a full-scale digital transformation?

Do you have the people in place to help shepherd the adoption of new technology and make it work with your current processes? How will you measure the effectiveness of the transformation? In other words, how will you know you arrived there?

Hyper-awareness and informed decision making are the horses, and technology is the cart. Set yourself up for success by getting to the root of the problem first and understanding what you're solving for. This doesn't mean you can't move with agility and speed, it just helps safeguard against operating with blinders on.

Myth 2: When the technology is applied, the transformation is complete

Digital transformation is about streamlining or optimizing the end-to-end customer experience or an operational process in a way that drives new revenue or value to your organization. Digital transformation is not simply about applying technology to a process or product. Giving yourself the flexibility to innovate by using information to create value is where the real change happens.

Complete business transformation is more about the solution created. And it's through optimization, innovation, the development of new revenue sources and information-driven value-adds, that business model shifts occur.

Myth 3: Customer experience is all that matters

Naturally, customers and the end goals of your business will be key drivers in your transformation, however when these are the sole focus, you tend to overlook one very integral component: your core. To realize a true transformation, meet those end goals, and deliver a great customer experience, you'll have to connect the dots internally and remove blocks or silos that may currently exist.

Transformation can, and often should, start internally taking a holistic approach by solving for operational needs -- often on a department by department basis. You have to build a strong core -- organizationally, technologically and culturally -- if you are to work with greater efficiency and agility.

Myth 4: Digital transformation is only for tech companies

We often only hear about the unicorn disruptors using digital technology to completely change the way we do things or shake up an existing industry, but not getting in the the digital game because you don't view yourself as a "tech company" could sideline your company's future. Digital transformation is happening across all industries and across various divisions and functions within organizations.

Digital transformation can occur with the customer experience, product or service innovation, the supply chain, marketing, sales, digital fulfillment, HR, and the list goes on. There are numerous ways adopting elements of the digital shift can benefit your business, even if you don't think you deal in tech.

Making better, more well-informed decisions with your people and processes can happen with advanced data. Your marketing and sales teams can be better aligned around a common language and shared information. You can improve your internal communication and create more invested employees.

Digital transformation touches every aspect of an organization. Allow yourself to be guided by what your customers want and need, but also look within to get a sense of how technology can make your business run more efficiently and guard against disruption.

Published on: Oct 13, 2017