Digital transformation is the cyclical hot topic that never dies. It seems that just a few short years ago, if your company was not on a digital transformation journey, it was going to fail spectacularly and everyone should start looking for a new job immediately…

But many companies without a digital transformation focus didn’t fail, people did not have to find new posts, and there was no implosion. What’s more, to succeed in digital transformation is highly subjective, and the path to success isn’t always clear.

Clarifying digital transformation

The goal of digital transformation can be viewed as the replacement of one process with another more efficient or ‘better’ process. By this logic, digital transformation is a process of replacing less efficient manual and potentially repetitive tasks with digital replacements.

What drives companies to undergo or begin the journey of a digital transformation? Normally, it’s an external market force. As more companies take on agile, more economically efficient, or more effective business trends, previously existing competitive advantages fall to the wayside. It’s an adapt-or-die mentality which is fantastic for innovation – but it also creates a great deal of anxiety for companies who might not have the capacity to digitalise in one fell swoop.

The road to digital

Going digital isn’t a singular process – there are many aspects of it. Consider digitisation – the act of taking an analogue resource and making it digital – versus digital transformation – replacing one (or more) processes with a new process. These are two different concepts that cannot be approached in the same way, as the latter requires far more complexity than the former.

From my experience, organisations that have gone through a successful digital transformation have approached their journey as an evolutionary one; one that may never have a final conclusion. In each case, I have witnessed precise objective-setting, reliable process identification and an iterative approach.

With a few salient exceptions, it’s hard to know whether organisations who seem successful in their digital transformations from the outside have succeeded according to their own metrics, due to the subjectivity of success.

Failures do happen, however, and the companies that drop out from the digital race often find themselves dropping out from the whole industry race entirely. Yet from every defeat, there is a learning. With digital transformation, the teaching is usually that an all-or-nothing approach generally does not work, and clear process identification is key.

Objective, digital transformation and the future of work

At Objective, we have an established tradition of providing tools to automate process, drive governance and reveal value in information. The Digitalisation of Work journey that we have all been on since the advent of ASPs and the evolution to what we now refer to as SaaS has evolved into information sprawl, unintended information landscapes and overall disorganisation.

Today, we are seeing the rise of the Citizen Integrator, the result of disconnected information, and SaaS-driven data silos. With that in mind, we enable organisations to reveal the hidden value of their disintermediated information and make sense of their assets. It’s been an exciting era for us, and though I consider us as having successfully ridden the digital wave, I know the road ahead isn’t always going to be clear. That’s why it’s all about the journey.