One of the most annoying business buzzwords today is “digital transformation”. Essentially, it’s a hijacked marketing term touted by the major consulting firms like Deloitte, KPMG, EY, BCG and others. The result? Sparking fear in the hearts of CEO’s and CIO’s that they must “digitally transform” their business. It’s become inherently misleading and serves the consulting firms one purpose: to justify exorbitant consulting fees and validate their proposals for huge investments in more ERP roll-outs, hardware and innumerable consulting hours.

Digital Transformation versus Adaptation
The reasons many consulting firms say a “transformation” is necessary is to avoid disruption by known or unknown competitors and to be ready for the future. What future? It’s the equivalent of insurance companies selling fear. Except this is business fear mongering.

Sometimes a digital transformation is a reality. But when is is thus? Usually, it is when a business is in trouble. Sales are slumping and market share is crumbling. Competitors are offering faster, better service or engaging customers better or a part or a whole of the business is being commoditized. In that case, a business must transform or die.

But for most businesses, what is needed is an adaptation. Looking ahead to see how workflows and automation can be improved. Largely it means not needing to transform the business, but rather, adapt it. Major consulting firms don’t like adaptations because it reduces the amount of billable hours, software and hardware to be sold and ongoing fees.

Understand your technology status
Before engaging a consulting firm on a digital transformation first look at your business. Identify where Information Technologies are falling short. Work with your IT department or service provider. If they can’t relate to your business needs, then you have a problem with your IT management; they’re essentially too short-sighted. That’s a whole other problem. You’ll need to deal with it.

Adapt or Transform
Engaging an IT consultancy that sells billable hours, hardware and software solutions is not generally a good idea. They are inherently biased to sell you a solution, be it Microsoft, SAP, Oracle or a niche ERP like Aptean. Instead, find a consultant that is independent of selling a solution, one that is neutral. Before you even start to consider what you need to do in terms of Information Technology (IT), you need to understand if it’s an adaptation or transformation.

Key Thought
You may not need a lot of IT solutions, consulting and work. That’s the truth. You might just need to focus on supply chain management, inbound marketing, sales automation or finance. Beware the major consulting firms…they’re much more interested in long-term engagement and selling you “solutions” to transform rather than adapt and that can do more damage than good.

More Insight: Check out our post on the differencebetween humans and users here.

About the Author Giles W. Crouch

Giles Crouch is a digital anthropologist and CDO/CIO. He spent over 20 years in globally-focussed marketing communications for technology products and services, but his roots are anthropology in a modern sense. He uniquely ties his deep knowledge of technology, marketing, design thinking and design anthropology as a polymath to help clients seeking digital advantage in today’s complex world. Giles has been regularly interviewed by international news media on topics such as social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence and it’s impacts on society. He is a passionate practitioner of design thinking and anthropology. Giles is prolific writer and public speaker, lecturer and keynote. He has also completed over 250 netnographic research projects since 2009. His secondary activity is as Group Publisher with Human Media Inc.

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