What's Driving Digital Transformation?

In recent meetings with executives in Los Angeles and Chicago, we asked if the term digital transformation was a familiar one to them. We also asked if digital transformation was underway at their organization. While many executives have heard of the term as a new “business buzzword,” most said their organization wasn’t actively focusing on digital transformation yet, but they knew they needed to.

What is driving that need? Some said they feel a growing pressure to deliver new revenue streams for their business. Others said that their organization needs to become more cost efficient and increasingly mobile to move ahead. Management wanting more visibility and intelligence around all processes (especially sales) was another reason; and that their employees need more collaboration and standardization across teams to improve both the internal and customer experience. Many agreed that if their organization doesn’t get onboard with digital transformation, “competitors will eat our lunch.”

This aligns with new research from Brian Solis and the Altimeter Group, who recently surveyed 500 executives and digital transformation strategists who said their top drivers for change were:

  • evolving customer behaviors and preferences (55%)
  • growth opportunities in new markets (53%)
  • increased competitive pressure (49%)
  • and new standards in regulatory and compliance (42%).


In this survey, the respondents had already begun acting on their drivers, and the top three initiatives underway as a result were (1) accelerating innovation, (2) modernizing IT infrastructure with increased agility, flexibility, management and security; and (3) improving operational agility to more rapidly adapt to change.

“Change is Hard”

For the executives we spoke with in LA and Chicago, what was holding their organizations back from moving farther along with their digital transformation initiatives?

While facing many of the same drivers, it was noted that their company and/or corporate culture was not open to rapid change or new ideas. Others said that while they knew their legacy systems and lack of collaboration was holding them back, it would be very hard to get employees to learn and use new tools. The cost of innovation was noted as a barrier, too.

“Change is hard.” 

Change is hard. So the question becomes is it worth it? What is the cost of not changing while others do, or changing more slowly? Can Digital Darwinism happen to us? It’s a great question to be asked as many brands and organizations begin prioritizing initiatives for 2017 and beyond.

If your organization hasn’t started an active digital transformation initiative yet, you’re not alone. According to the new MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte University Press report, Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Focus, nearly 90% of more than 3,700 business executives, managers and analysts from around the globe say they anticipate their industries will be moderately or greatly disrupted by digital trends. Yet less than half (44%) currently believe their organization is adequately preparing for this digital disruption.

In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look beyond the buzzword with a well-known thought leader in this space, examining the trends and technologies that have served (or will serve) as a catalyst in digital transformation. We’ll also cover digital transformation’s impact on various departments within an organization, who should lead a digital transformation initiative, and more. Stay tuned or use the RSS feed to get these posts directly delivered to you if you're interested in learning more about digital transformation.


To read Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's blog on digital transformation and reinventing business processes, click here.