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Digital Transformation Rabbit Hole

When I started reading up on Digitization, I got swept up by all these words that I used to hear only from the IT guy who services our computers and network connections at work, words like platform, applications and network. Then there are all these buzz words –AI, Automation, Cloud, Eco-systems and Digital Transformation. I got lost, got confused and stalled. Guess what I found out? What I experienced happens to organizations too! According to a McKinsey report, less than one third of organizations digital transformation efforts succeed!

So, hop on and join me in my joyride as try to make sense of the journey that businesses big and small are embarking on. Let me share with you tidbits that I have gathered along the way as I try to understand the long and complicated journey towards Digital Transformation. Digitization began in the 1950’s. It is the foundation of going digital and it was started after the Second Word War; when businesses started using computers for massive computations and data storage. The airline industry was the first to start converting physical processes into digital representations and storing them in computers to help shorten the time to service reservations.

Digitization is invaluable to businesses as it enables them to convert and store data, documents and processes (manufacturing) in volume from physical or analog and convert them into digital formats. This is important as this is the jump off point for companies to slide to the next stage which is Digitalization. The foundation stage that is digitization required talents to create and operate the machines and later on the technology needed to support the activity. The office typing personnel that used to use typewriters evolved to become secretaries and assistants who knew how to use a word processor a.k.a-personal computer. The safety officer that used to walk around manufacturing plants was provided consoles that will ring and an alarm would set off when irregularities are detected at the shop floor. These changes in how work was being done required retooling and re-training to do their task. When something new is introduced in an organization, be it a new product, a new equipment, talents are provided training to understand the purpose and be able to utilize it.

What is Digitalization?

When Digitization is being done or is happening in an organization, then, Digitalization can begin. No, its not a tongue twister and yes, the slight difference in spelling does change the meaning. The most common concept of Digitalization is that it is done to enable or improve processes by harnessing technologies and analysing stored data. A reporting filing process between branch offices and headquarters may use to take days to accomplish, but with the use of the internet and applications reports can be submitted the same day they were generated and sent to whoever and wherever it is needed. Large warehousing and inventories benefit from digitalization as items can be coded as they arrive and can be tracked by several means with the use of barcodes and trackers. Another concept that refers to digitalization is when traditional work settings are abruptly changed and technology is used to facilitate or manage the change. This is best explained by the move of many office workers who used to report for work in offices but were doing remote work from their houses when the pandemic happened. Digitalization in an organization or business like Digitization can happen in one area, division or group of interconnected departments.

When Digitalization is planned for the whole organization and it is aimed at changing the business model, developing new revenue and value producing opportunities—then it can be said that Digital Transformation is happening.

What is Digital Tranformation?

Digital Transformation is such a big undertaking for organizations and its human resources. It is akin to living and doing tasks and activities that you and your family do every day in your house while it is being renovated and redesigned inside and out. Like the house example, success in Digital Transformation can be masterfully executed. It’s about the leader creating, communicating a compelling vision to the people about the changes that is happening and will be happening, in positive way. Efforts should be focused on the greatest needs of the company first.

What is it not?

Digital Transformation is not about technology only. It is a seamless collaboration, coordinating and putting together of four domains-- technology, data, processes and change capabilities of its people or culture to drive the successful transformation of an organization. It is not an automation project-that is Digitization.

It is going to change the company completely. To change is not the same as to transform. Change requires external stimuli that modify an action and maybe part of a transformation initiative. To transform is utilizing the organization’s culture to modify beliefs that will create lasting impact. It is just Digitalization. It is more than Digitalization as it encompasses the alignment of products, operations, value chains, and aftermarket services; part of the initiatives is that it providing skills and re-tooling training programs.

Join us on 18 August 2021, Wednesday at 2-3PM SGT to learn strategic actions to accelerate business activities, processes, competencies, and business models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized way.

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