The term “digital transformation” needs a makeover: what would you rename it?

The “digital transformation” has worn out its welcome among some. Why? As a general term that can be applied to any digital strategy, it is often misunderstood and overused.

Part of the problem is that it’s too broad. Digital can mean a variety of things, depending on how it is perceived. It is up to each company to define exactly what digital transformation means for them. And employees need to understand why it’s necessary not just to onboard, but to be enthusiastic about it. This can only happen with a full understanding of the role each team member will play in the process.

Considered a buzzword by some, digital transformation is an absolutely essential component for all businesses, having accelerated even faster over the past two years due to the pandemic. As the key to success for the future of most businesses, it’s a go-to term unless we find something better…

[ Do the words ‘digital transformation’ make you cringe? Read Why people love to hate ‘digital transformation’. ]

I asked experts in our community to comment on this divisive term and offer suggestions for renaming it. What are the alternatives to this seemingly innocuous phrase? Here is what they said:

“Rather than focusing on technology while pushing the organization to develop customer-centricity (the current model), let’s try to focus on the customer and let the technology meet the needs of the customer.”

“I would rename digital transformation customer first. The term digital transformation gets one major thing wrong: it focuses on technology. It focuses on results (technological changes) and not on results (better customer experiences). Rather than focusing on the technology while pushing the organization to develop customer-centricity (the current model), let’s try to focus on the customer and let the technology meet the needs of the customer. The technology function has yet to lead this effort alongside other business functions, but words are powerful, and starting with a customer mindset puts the focus on the most important part of your business first.” -Rich Theil, CEO, The Noble Foundry

“I stopped using the term digital transformation over a year ago and I’m talking about Dow digital. Calling it a transformation makes me think of a butterfly undergoing its transformation! Digital, in general, is overused and everything IT seems to be labeled as digital. I prefer to talk about improving or changing the way work is done [by] take advantage of digital capabilities. Ultimately, this should improve the employee experience and the customer experience. And that includes using AI and advanced modeling to make better decisions and insights overall.” -Melanie Kalmar, Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer, Dow

Digital steering. The “transformation” must have a goal with tangible results. The results must be those that innovate, improve our quality of life, open new avenues of innovation and increase existing offers and services. Transformation executed with purpose establishes the platforms of today that serve as the launching pad for the leaders of tomorrow. Digital transformation has evolved to be confused with a simple change in the technology used. Claims about digital transformation initiatives are many, but only a few have actually achieved digital leadership.” -EG Nadhan, Global Chief Architect, Red Hat

[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]

New ways of working (NWoW) is our term. Of course, new ways of working require a number of enablers in the form of culture and technology.

“Culture: Retool your leadership in new ways of leading before demanding your organization be agile. Agile teams are self-directed, cross-functional, and have the ability to act quickly, test, and learn. The role of the leader n It’s not about telling teams what to do, it’s about creating a fertile environment to innovate. The leader’s role is to create results and eliminate barriers. Train your leaders in these new ways of leading before sending your teams to the next level. ‘agility.

“Technology: Focus on agile infrastructure and data before demanding an agile work environment. Building agile, cross-functional, and empowered teams is a good step. But it only works if you’ve gotten into it. your technical transformation and have created the highways to continually deploy software. The combination of culture, technology and agility creates NWoW.” – John Marcante, retired CIO, Avant-garde

Learn more about digital transformation

“Digital transformation is very critical for organizations that must reinvent their business models due to digital opportunities and disruptions. For many companies, this means developing new products for the digital age, improving the customer experience, leveraging analytics in decision-making and empowering the workforce with smarter technologies I call on the leaders driving these transformations digital pioneersand they recognize the importance of challenging the status quo while applying agile practices to plan, experiment, and deliver capabilities that impact the business. » -Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO and author of Digital driving and Digital pioneer.

“I would change the term digital transformation to strategic transformation. For me, digital is somewhat ambiguous and too tech-focused. The use of “strategic” gives more weight to being strategic. Embarking on a company-wide initiative always requires a strategy. Strategy on how technology and business will align to operate more efficiently, serve customers better, become more agile, gain competitive advantage, and position the business for future growth. » -Donald Hook, Chief Technology Officer, Complete consultation

[Where is your team’s digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What’s slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask.]

Michael J. Chiaramonte