What is digital transformation?

What is digital transformation? Sounds like a silly question right, I mean everyone knows what that is. But do we?

Try searching for a definition online – you fill find a wide variety of different versions and explanations. Try talking to colleagues and clients – a lot of people will feel quite secure in knowing or having the correct definition of what digital transformation is. But there is no academic or given, worldwide definition.

Image by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.

The one describing factor that the available and different definitions have in common is the following:

Digital Transformation can be seen as a change that effects all aspects of a business, with the aid of digital technology.  

But let’s go back a step. Prior to defining what digital transformation is, we need to go through what the terms digitization and digitalization are. Confusing? No worries, let’s go through this one step at a time:

Digitization is the process of converting analog data into digital data. Like, taking your notes written with a paper and pen and saving them into a spreadsheet.

Digitalization is sort of a precursor of digital transformation; where digitization is the technical aspect of going from analog to digital, digitalization involves changing processes – the academic world has yet to settle on a single definition of what digitalization is and how it actually differs from digital transformation. You can see digitalization as a process and digital transformation as the effect.

By the end of the day, as long as we can agree on the fact that a digital transformation involves technology and some sort of change in an organization, we are good.

So to summarize, digital transformation is the effect that comes from digitizing an organization which involves implementing technology of some kind.

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