Forces Driving the Digital Transformation Era

The words “digital transformation” appear everywhere today. I use them in discussions daily.  They describe the era we live in - an era where the rules of business, strategies and the pace of business have changed.  In this era the manner in which we operate our businesses, and interact with our customers, suppliers, employees, partners and even physical objects have changed.  This new era is different. We feel urgency for more information, deeper insights, faster operational tempos and business agility.  We recognize a need for change, but to what?

I propose that it is important to understand how we got to the era of digital transformation. What are the contributing factors?  For that purpose, let’s begin by considering how we moved over the past decade from environments full of disconnected unknowns, to the world of connected knowns, and how we evolved from mass markets of faceless customers to precise markets ofHow did we get here? I posit that rapid advances in six areas have converged to create the era of digital transformation:

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Networks (cables, wireless and social)
  4. Commercial and consumer comprehension
  5. Democratization of technology at scale (low costs & mass adoption)
  6. Moving beyond human time to digital time 

The evolutionary path to digital transformation followed a timeline that included the invention and development of the following[1]:

  1. Computers & Moore’s Law
  2. Memory and data storage
  3. Mass adoption of PCs and laptops
  4. Local Networks
  5. ERPs
  6. The internet
  7. Mobile networks and mobile phones
  8. GPS
  9. Mass global adoption of wireless devices (laptops, mobile phones, tablets, smartphones, wearables, sensors)
  10. Proliferation of websites and online activity
  11. Rapid adoption and expansion of online and mobile databases and search
  12. Rapid adoption and expansion of online marketplaces and reviews
  13. Rapid adoption of online and now mobile payments
  14. The transformation from physical to digital (think retail stores to e-commerce, and now m-commerce)
  15. Move from paper documents to digits
  16. Rapid expansion of embedded computers
  17. Rapid adoption and proliferation of mobile apps and the mobile web
  18. Online gaming
  19. Rapid transformation from traditional marketing to digital and mobile marketing
  20. Rapid addition of smartphone enabled sensors
  21. Rapid evolution and adoption of online social networks, social media sites and content sharing
  22. Online classified sites (e.g. Craig’s List)
  23. Rapid emergence of the sharing economy (e.g. Airbnb, Uber, etc.)
  24. Rapid adoption of online education services
  25. Rapid adoption and expansion of online entertainment movies, TV programs and streaming music
  26. Wearables
  27. Cloud computing
  28. Rapid emergence of cloud based platforms for everything
  29. Internet of Things
  30. Industrial Internet (telematics, smart grids)
  31. Proliferation of analytics and reporting
  32. Mobile wallets
  33. Development of advanced algorithms
  34. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  35. Augmented reality
  36. Robotic process automation

All of these innovations and advances, and our adoption of them, changed us.  We are different consumers.  We are different employers and employees.  Our expectations increased.  We became impatient and mobile.  We became global.  We demand immediate, accurate and real-time responses.  We want personalized and contextually relevant experiences.  We want digital experiences that are beautiful, simple and elegant.  We want instant access to all products, services, news, information and friends’ status.  We want to share our lives instantly and globally.  We want to find things, buy things, move money and complete transactions from anywhere at anytime. 

All of these innovations and our resulting behavioral changes – changed commercial marketplaces and brought us to the tipping point.  Definition of tipping point: the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more drastic change.  That drastic change today is – digital transformation.

  1. Digital Transformation Requires Agility and Energy Measurement
  2. A Doctrine for Digital Transformation is Required
  3. The Advantages of Advantage in Digital Transformation
  4. Digital Transformation and Its Role in Mobility and Competition
  5. Digital Transformation - A Revolution in Precision Through IoT, Analytics and Mobility
  6. Competing in Digital Transformation and Mobility
  7. Ambiguity and Digital Transformation
  8. Digital Transformation and Mobility - Macro-Forces and Timing
  9. Mobile and IoT Technologies are Inside the Curve of Human Time

 


[1] Not a definitive list