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As Patrick Lujan wrote in this discussion on What's the Worst Advice You Can Give a Company That Wants to Go Digital: "Can we get a consensus definition of what constitutes "digital transformation" to begin with?" So what does it mean when a company goes digital?
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Sarcastically I could say it's enabling your customers to do the work your employees used to do.

But isn't it just "stop doing analog things" like:

- Information stored on physical stuff like paper
- Sending around that paper
- Let employees and customers come to a physical place like an office (so I can spend time on things that matter; so best thing of "going digital" in my opinion)
- traveling physical to places to check things when sensors can do it

And probably a lot more. That also makes clear that not all processes can go fully digital. Mostly the communication and sending around data can go digital but for example in online retail it's still the stuffies you want at your home.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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  1. Ian Gotts
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4306
Absolutely: So shifting the work and therefore the cost to the customer, which the customer sees as a lower-cost solution.
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A digital company has made most of its business model explicit in a digital architecture, so that it is now able to edit its business model very fast and very affordably.

On the fun side - a digital company is a celebrity that can afford to exploit its data by simply grabbing them by the process (!) and still get away with it!
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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  1. more than a month ago
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I don't have a formal definition of "gone digital". But, from my perspective, a company goes digital when it takes out the MOST of digital platforms capabilities, and not only runs without paper or without manual procedures.

For example, a company that has several systems, but they are not integrated, has not gone digital. Another company that use spreadsheets or mails to track leads or orders, has not gone digital. In both cases they might seem digital, but they are not using all the power of digital platforms.

In sum, many organizations has strong ERP's for its core processes, but I wouldn't say they have gone digital until their support processes are also fully automated, integrated and running over specialized digital platforms. :)
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite
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  1. Ian Gotts
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4305
I am not sure that ANY company runs without paper or manual procedures. That is only in the dreams of BPM vendors. Even is a digital that are huge areas of the business which cannot be digitized.
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We have been taking companies digital for the better part of two centuries when we talk about moving away from paper based communication and paper based processes. That is not going digital ...

A company goes digital when most of their customers have 'gone digital' and they have no other choice! The customers define when and what that means and not the business.

That and nothing else is the reality.
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You have dedicated sales people, right? Right?!
Max, the recursive nature of your definition pretty much kills it - if a company goes digital when most of its customers have gone digital, this means those customers cannot be companies (because that would require their customers' in turn to have gone digital and so on...).
so your definition would apply to B2C companies only? has any consumer market (except audience) gone almost fully digital? hmm...
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Don’t have a definition? Voilà.

digital adj.
building life cycles of primary artefacts on the primacy of digital presentation of those artefacts

Examples:
Digital organisation – organisation building life cycles of its primary artefacts on the primacy of digital presentation of those artefacts
Digital economy – economy building life cycles of its primary artefacts (products and services) on the primacy of explicit and machine-readable presentation of those artefacts

Bonus (Thanks to John Morris) - it is very easy to measure how digital something is.

Thanks,
AS
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Any corrections of my English are very welcome.
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4290
Was it English?
"International English", of course
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4294
;-)
  1. Kay Winkler
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4300
I think the term to be defined shouldn't be part of the definition itself. In that case the adjective "digital".
@Kay, yes, this my mistake. Definition of "digital" as adjective requires more homework. Thanks.
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To the business leader it is the hope at last "systems" will support users internal and external with the the right data at the right time to enable good decisions to be made and new data created. I live in hope..........
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  1. more than a month ago
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Sorry, none of those definitions (though some are intelligible) are helpful because you don't know if you have or haven't undergone digital transformation as no definition provided is measurable. Still more industry hype, vendor felderkarb from my view.
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You know your primary artefacts, you know processes in life cycles of these artefacts and you know how many of those processes use a digital presentation of those artefacts as the master repository. What's wrong with this calculations ?
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4297
+1 new word for me:"felderkarb"
@samarin, leaving aside the fact for the moment that the majority of the industry (particularly the vendors and large integrators, not to mention a certain large industry analyst) have come remotely near the precision of that definition. It would now appear, by your definition, we have measurements for "digital representation of artefacts' life cycle processes" to quantify 'digital transformation.' I can live with, am good with that definition, but how many instances can you cite, know of where the analytics for either the processes themselves, or the artefacts, or both are tracked in that manner, to such a level of granularity? And, further, for what purpose(s)? If we go by your definition and have consensus for that, then NOBODY I'm aware of right now is out there doing this. It hearkens back, is analogous to, old process automation projects', initiatives' felderkarb (John Morris, see "Battlestar Galactica").

Your definition, I'm afraid, is flying at a much lower altitude, much closer to the bare metal, than the overall industry discussions using this term and I'm even more dubious of any project(s) out there exercising the above definition, including going back to the conversation that promulgated this one.
There's something very relevant, salient to say about metrics here - or the omission thereof - I just haven't figured it out yet.
@Patrick (@pelujan), thanks for your feedback. Is seems we agreed that the proposed measure is objective. Fortunately, it can be applied at the design time and not at run time as you mentioned. Thus a good enough governance is good enough.
RE "old process automation projects" sure. My definition is about life cycle - just using digital presentation of your organisation primary artefacts is not enough - your organisation life cycles must be reconsidered to achieve your business goals. Example: One of my specialities since 1980 is electronic publishing and I participated in “digital transformation” of the International Standards production. The main business goals were uniformity (easier to understand), correctness (those documents are legal documents) and time-to-market (not 5 years). Our initial “digitalisation” of this production was pure automation of the paper-based life-cycle of standards – linear sequence of receiving a draft, technical editing, preparing drawing, proof-reading, QA, repeating and publishing. People worked with an electronic document in the same way as they worked with the paper one – just moving a folder from one post to another.
Of course, time-to-market was difficult to reduce. But, at one moment, the business understood that a few traditionally linear steps can be carried out in parallel, e.g. drawing and some proofreading. Thus, we had an immediate reduction in time-to-market.
Next, we understood, that all our production activities may be intermixed with the up-front drafting if the latter is carried out online, by small fragments and incrementally (something à la Wikipedia). Again, the time-to-market has been reduced and uniformity and correctness improved. Although it sounds like “good” old BPR, such a transformation was enabled by the digital presentation of artefacts including business processes.
RE “the bare metal,” – excellent analogy although I would prefer “bare architecture”. Yes, chemistry, to win against alchemy (which spanning some four millennia and three continents), had to go very deep to “bare molecules”. The modern “copy” of alchemy, known as digital hype, is waiting for its chemistry.
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Nothing
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  1. Kay Winkler
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4301
I tend to agree with that.
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I agree with the cynics that say that "going digital"' ( or other versions, e.g. "digitalization" ) is hype. But then, hype isn't necessarily all bad.

Sure, Gartner's hype curves are cynically titled and feature the horrible dip they've called the "Trough of Disillusionment". But there is a reality to hype however, even studied for example in the social science behind the Technology Adoption Curve (Geoffrey Moore from Everett Rogers). In this case "hype" now becomes community signalling, and its signalling that very much has the function of risk reduction. Technologists who live "on the edge" see how everything is coming together to enable new technical and business breakthroughs. They see possible use cases matched with business cases -- because of what's coming out of the labs. And these technologists start up a conversation or discourse on those new technologies -- they're motivated to do so both from curiosity and because it's their job.

This buzz then provides a more welcoming environment for positive decisions in favour of trying out the new technology. And lots of blog posts, articles and conferences show up in support of exploring the new possibilities. Lots and lots of people who aren't so close to labs start to hear about the new possibilities. This is in part a process of education and knowledge diffusion.

Fairly quickly however we all realize the what's come out of the lab is a long way from full-on production usage. There's a lot of business analysis and engineering to be done. I've given presentations referencing the Hype Cycle -- but I re-abel the dip (i.e. the Trough of Disillusionment) as the opportunity to get to work -- exactly to do the engineering and business analysis that will help realize the promise.

So, what's "going digital" based on this analysis?

It's being fully committed to engaging with today's new technology-based automation possibilities. It's listening to community signals and choosing what technologies can be applied, based on use cases, business cases -- and risk.

If you are a business or technology leader, you could say "going digital" is "doing your job".
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  1. Kay Winkler
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4302
Also an interesting take on it. The intriguing point you raise, related but not necessarily to a degree of causality, is the influence of hype cycles on driving demand in the world of IT. From there one could investigate the stream (monetary?) of interest groups and/or vendors to analysts, their leverage and impacts on the market, using different tools that end up setting trends and creating demand.
Sure, they are "doing their jobs", except that in most organizations one is line, the other staff.

Accordingly, the job of the technology leader (except in businesses where the business is technology) is to sell/support "digitization" initiatives to business leaders who then prepare ROIs that detail costs/timing and risks.

A good ROI will filter out hype.

There are two types of ROIs - ones that get submitted, receive funding and the stakeholders then all "move on". The other, where the architects of the ROI get to "boil in their own puddings", tend to have less fails.
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It seems, "digital" and "digital transformations" can mean different things to different people. Due to the lack of a formalized consensus on the concrete contents "digital transformation" entails, pretty much everybody with an opinion would be right.
Narrowing it down to the field of BPM, which existing body (if any) would have the authority to establish that baseline? Some analogue (no pun intended) to the standards put forth by the OMG?
Pretending it depends on us, why not putting up a poll on technologies and methodologies that any "digital transformation" initiative MUST have in BPM to claim that name?
Emiel made some great suggestions: ECM (meth. paperless?), virtual sales and service channels and more.
So, maybe we could say that a "digitally transformed" company must have a successfully implemented: BPMS, SOA, ECM, BI, AI (too much? maybe DT 2.0...) that are tightly integrated into each other and to all ERP systems that the company may have.In addition to that, the DT'ed company offers virtual sales and service channels for at least 80% of its products and services.
Something around those lines, eventually.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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  1. more than a month ago
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This is only relevant to a very small % of companies as this Forbes article claims that 84% of digital transformations will fail.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucerogers/2016/01/07/why-84-of-companies-fail-at-digital-transformation/#1c1f974c397b

But those that succeed have completely redesigned their businesses (product offerings, operational processes, business model, support systems) to exploit the potential of technology, systems and data to drive up customer experience, drive down costs and become wildly profitable (often by becoming the monopoly supplier)
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It seems impractical for organizations to take on initiatives that have such a high predicted rate of failure.

What this tells us is the folks preparing ROIs for "digitization' initiative funding are not doing a very good job highlighting risks in these ROIs..

If they were to include the range of risks, few of the ROIs would get approved.
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Clearly, the issue in "digital transformation" lays not with "digital", but with "transformation". Large transformations fail because they're large. People choke on them.
That's why I don't believe in pharaonic change projects and in monolithic implementations.
Change is not a shock therapy against a disease, but a regular lifestyle choice that prevents the disease.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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Agree the implementation of transformation should be small steps involving users working in small groups achieving a specific outcome. This is the tactical implementation of the larger strategic transformation plan and will work if the leaders truly understand this otherwise costly failure likely....?
RE "Large transformations fail because they're large. People choke on them." - not surprising because the cited article from Forbes does not mention the word "architecture" at all.
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4341
+1 "Pharaonic"!
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