Digital Transformation is a Styrofoam Burger

Have you heard this term thrown around?

A term this vague, all-encompassing, and unspecific should trigger your B.S. Spidey senses. Digital Transformation (DT) is a great example of marketing, consultants, and the blind virus incubator of the internet run amok.

At its core, the idea was spawned to help organizations recognize that their business model would eventually be upset by a newcomer enabled by tech at each step. In other words, it’s bigger than simply using tech in the way you do business today. It’s about a new model altogether. Here is an article from HBR talking about DT in 2016. Think Netflix vs Blockbuster.

Thing is, at this point how many organization leaders haven’t thought about this? Yet service providers are driving the DT train full steam ahead, using fear-based marketing tactics to turn the volume on this topic to full blast.

The signal is now fully drowned out by noise. Hot areas I saw from a quick search on Digital Transformation include:

  • Marketing Processes
  • Financial Services and Trading
  • Farming
  • Medicine
  • Data Management

While each area warrants attention to tech adoption, the only message I could glean was, use 0’s and 1’s to make your business more efficient. And use our stuff to capture and manage your 0’s and 1’s. Be it new tech like Blockchain and IoT or more often, the same tech you already know, just now with a new hashtag.

I have a sniff test for ignoring such viral tech trends with a low return on investment of your time.:

  • Hashtag to Content Ratio – Hashtags run amuck is a good sign of attention grabbing by service providers instead of something useful.
Clipart of man with chart showing upward growth but no axis labels, etc.
  • Conceptual Diagrams and Charts – Be wary of qualitative assessments and axes with no numbers.
  • People, process, and technology – If you see this vaguery, immediately look for the escape hatch.

Despite me being sour on the viral nature of the DT term, I did come across a couple of interesting businesses exemplifying the aspiration of the HBR article:

The ball is fully in motion downhill. Companies will get more productive and need less people. More companies will also be born, because less people means they start with a more efficient business model. This is going to have major impact.

Let me close with a balance to the madness. Here’s a good read to assure you that even in the tech world, people make a difference and human wisdom should still be in play.