Digital Transformation – is it really a new concept?

The Badger can’t help but roll his eyes when he sees the phrase ‘Digital Transformation’. Of course, strategists, marketeers, consultants, media people, and researchers all need a convenient label for their visioneering or to sell their wares, but you’d think from its use in recent years that ‘Digital Transformation’ is a new phenomenon. Not so. At least in the Badger’s opinion which, admittedly, is influenced by a tendency to cut through flimflam and look at realities under the covers. If ‘Digital Transformation’ embraces putting digital technology into an enterprise changing the way it operates and delivers to its customers, then it’s been going on for at least 40 years! Why this view? Because since joining the IT industry everything the Badger’s been involved in entailed delivery that transformed enterprises and the way things worked.

A recent interview by Computer Weekly with Mark Gray, Director of Digital Transformation at the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) illustrates the Badger’s point and also provides an insight to the vision, leadership and complexity involved in keeping an organisation modern, relevant and effective. CPS’s core case management system, built and hosted in a data centre 17 years ago, is apparently on track to complete migration to the cloud in the next quarter. A significant moment indeed, especially as the Badger was at the time a senior leader in the company that built and delivered the CPS’s case management system all those years ago! It was a very significant achievement for all concerned, and it was transformational for the CPS. It was a ‘Digital Transformation’ embracing the technology available at that time. It was just as fundamental then as the CPS’s transformative moves with technology are now.

So ‘Digital Transformation’ isn’t new. It’s been at the heart of keeping organisations modern, relevant, efficient and competitive – all things that leaders must focus on – for decades. If there’s been something new in recent years, it’s that leaders are dealing with ever speedier cycles of change in a world being disrupted by many forces – technology advancement is just one. Accordingly, there’s no scope for leadership complacency these days if an organisation wants to survive and remain relevant to their customers.

So good luck with completing the whole CPS transformation programme successfully, Mr Gray. No doubt the necessary culture changes and revised working practices are as much a challenge as the technology, but just think…it’ll all have to transform again in a few years time when the robots finally take over!


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