‘Digital Transformation’ is dangerous

If you’re looking for a speaker to inspire innovation in your company, beware the most dangerous buzz phrase in business: Digital Transformation.

Business jargon used to be harmless. Terms like ‘synergy’ and ‘thinking outside the box’, were used mainly by consultants and mostly as seasoning to spice up PowerPoint presentations, peppered in as bullet points alongside the clipart and stock photography.

Today, the people who use the buzz phrase ‘digital transformation’ aren’t just consultants – they’re the leaders of companies, and they’re trying to use the term to reach consensus on real operational and strategic decisions.

Ban ‘digital transformation’ from the boardroom

The danger comes from the fact that no one sitting around any boardroom table knows or agrees on what ‘digital transformation’ actually means.

 

People who talk about digital transformation What they really mean
CEO: ‘This year is about digital transformation’We’re doing a series of IT and website upgrades to try to boost revenue and keep our investors happy.
CMO: ‘We’re digitally transforming our marketing’We’re going to spend more on digital marketing this year – and we’re redesigning the website.
CIO: ‘We’re running a digital transformation programme.’We’re finally buying a enterprise Customer Relationship Management system and re-platforming our website.
CFO: ‘We’re investing in digital transformation’We need to automate and shift low-skilled work offshore to reduce our costs.
Top-tier consultant: ‘We’re crafting a digital transformation strategy’You need to pay us a lot of money for a set of recommendations that tell you to spend even more.
Digital agency: ‘This project is your first stage of digital transformation’We’ll develop your new website using a method called ‘Agile’ but without properly preparing you or your teams for the new ways of working it requires.

 

What is real ‘digital transformation’?

Real digital transformation isn’t about getting your company to use a specific set of new technologies or to do more business online.

Instead, it’s about your company’s ability to react to change by successfully utilising new technologies and procedures – now and in the future.

For most, this includes adopting processes that allow your company’s leadership and staff to investigate, experiment, and strategically employ new technology on an ongoing basis.

Real ‘digital transformation’ means to become more adaptive to change itself

A company that is digitally transformed is one that continues to achieve its mission statement in the face of constant change, by adapting and aligning to the needs of its customers and the demands of the external environment.

The ‘digital’ part is because real digital transformation is achieved by leveraging the latest in technology, and the ways of working brought about by the innovation age, in order to become more adaptive.

When real digital transformation is achieved, it produces significant gains for any organization, including:

  • More profitable business models
  • More efficient operating processes
  • Greater access to markets
  • Enhanced offerings to users
  • New sources of revenue

So if you’re looking for a speaker to inspire your company to be more innovative, speaking as an inventor, senior technology leader and the author of the book called ‘Digital Transformation’ – don’t choose a keynote who’ll perpetuate this overused and dangerous buzz phrase.

Instead, engage an expert who can show your company how to tackle change by building real innovations (and definitely not more PowerPoints).

 

Lindsay Herbert is a leader and inventor at IBM iX. To book her (or any other speaker) for your event, contact JLA here.

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