Digitization vs. Digital Transformation

Why Business Leaders Should Understand the Difference

When envisioning your company’s digital transformation, it’s important to think about finish lines, final phases and overall approaches. This strategic vision is imperative. But it’s just as essential to pay attention to another key element of digital transformation success, workplace culture.

Think about it—we can change our technologies, our infrastructure, and our processes, but if we don’t take people into account, lasting change becomes less attainable. That’s because people make transformation a reality.

Therefore, it’s critical for business leaders to understand their organization’s existing culture and to map out a plan to manage change. All too often, the focal point is the actual deployment—in essence, how to digitally enable the company with technology. Because of this narrow focus, business leaders often underestimate the importance of culture in the digital era, which leads to failed transformation efforts.

Building an organizational culture for successful adoption of digital technologies requires participation and buy-in from everyone in the organization—from leaders to employees. It also calls for a new, open and collaborative approach to work. Contributing new views and ideas, and leveraging technology to expand collaboration to the far reaches of an organization are key drivers of digital innovation. They’re also critical—it’s difficult for an organization to undergo digital transformation if its culture is built around and firmly cemented in departmental silos.

Business leaders need to understand that, without the involvement, cooperation and feedback of the workforce, their digital transformation efforts will struggle to move beyond digital enablement. When you introduce new or unfamiliar technology like Skype, SharePoint, Slack, Teams and others, and also demonstrate how the technologies integrate and work together to drive productivity, you lay a foundation for organization-wide culture change.

Remember, you are not just implementing new technology—you are introducing new ways of working and, eventually, inspiring new ways of thinking about work. Skype combined with OneNote, for example, is enabling people to redefine productivity as it relates to meetings. SharePoint, too, is streamlining team collaboration and creating new possibilities.

You are not just implementing new technology—you are introducing new ways of working and, eventually, inspiring new ways of thinking about work.

Technology is an essential component of digital transformation, but without new thinking and new work approaches, your company runs the risk of simply using new tools for old processes—of being “digitized” instead of “digital.”1

1. “What Digital Transformation Really Means,” by Galen Gruman, Infoworld, June 2016

Image: Modified from original. Freepik/TrueMitra

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