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  • Writer's picturePaul Steven - Jennings

The Digital transformation Monster

Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse

What better place to be penning this piece from than QITCOM, the Qatar technology exhibition, which this year, runs central theme under the banner "Smart City", and that theme is digital transformation.

We are talking, banking, health care, telecomms, transportation, airlines, facilities management, retail and everything in between. The consultants and vendors are out in force, offering advice, guidance and obviously, services. The general message is one that is positive, exciting, something to embrace but there is also a slight undertone of trepidation.

I have previously mentioned the "glazed eye syndrome" that ICT tends to cause in most laymen and that is no different when we start talking digital transformation. The difference here is that while an average business owner knows they need somewhere safe and secure to store their invaluable company data, they may not be aware of what digital transformation means to their business. Its a concept after all, not a thing. Its not a box that you can buy and use even though you have no concept of how it actually works. It is one or more of a number of combinations of software, processes, services and systems that when effectively combined, change the very way you do business. A good example is the banking sector. Banks, traditionally, had branches and people that you had to interact with, either in person or at best over the phone. This is changing so rapidly that any bank only starting to invest in evolving their services from the traditional teller today, are more than likely, already too late.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the digital transformation monster. Don't get left behind, we are being told, invest now or your business will be irrelevant in the very near future!

Opportunistic consultants and service providers the world over are pitching digital transformation to anyone and everyone that will listen and many are using the monster to push their narrative. I am here to tell you to slow down, take a breath, you aren't going out of business tomorrow.

Digital transformation means different things to different business, sectors and verticals. Manufacturing, for example, can benefit significantly from IOT, service delivery via digital delivery systems IE, Uber, Airbnb and Qatar's own e-government initiatives that deliver more efficient electronic services to its residents but what about your project management consultants, your architects, your builders? What can you do?

Well, for starters, your marketing, your on site visibility, IE cloud based project management tools that give your clients insight into how their projects are progressing but in terms of digitally transforming how your business actually functions? Not today. Can you give your clients a 3D walk through of their new office? Sure, but that is a nice to have, still not changed how your business actually functions. This may be a digital enhancement to how you pitch but it certainly cannot be called digital transformation.

When you were a child, you may have switched on a light to chase the monster under your bed back to the dark, nether regions of your subconscious. Today, as a business owner, you need to do the same but in this case the light is information. In our digital age there is so much information out there and your business starts its digital transformation with you leveraging that and maybe, just maybe, that will be all it needs.

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