A phenomenon that has both excited and challenged many organizations is digital transformation, also known as digitalization. The benefit potential of digital transformation to an organization is tremendous and include massive reduction in costs, improved customer satisfaction and judicious delivery of management tools that permit proactive intervention to alleviate problems. The application of digital transformation at the national level can enhance access to public services, boost employment, accelerate economic growth and deliver greater transparency for governments. Results reported from those governments and organizations that have attained a substantial level of maturity along the digital transformation journey prove that the benefits are tangible. Commensurate with the palpable benefits to be gained, trends in customer and citizen expectations and habits strongly suggest that organizations and societies that fail to plan and initiate a digital transformation progression risk becoming overawed with survival trials.
The impact of digitalization is expected to be of such great magnitude, that it has been likened to the industrial revolution. It is important to note that the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to convert data from analog to digital formats or automate processes is defined as Digitization which is distinctly different from digital transformation (digitalization). The scope of digital transformation is broad and demands changes to the company’s business model, products, services, processes and organizational structure. Therefore, all segments within a company are affected by this continuous and complex paradigm.
Currently, there is no single universal agreement on a digital transformation strategy and researchers continue to explore new ideas on the topic. Adopting and embracing digital technologies that instigates change in roles, business function and culture while boosting competitive advantage defines digital transformation. Many information technology (IT) strategies exist but typically, the focus of IT strategies within an organization focus on the management of IT. While this functional and operational aspect of IT strategy critically supports the organization, it does not drive transformation. One approach is to consolidate IT strategy and business strategy to produce a comprehensive digital business strategy. This describes the desired business opportunities based on digital technologies. A countervailing approach is to create a separate digital transformation strategy which is focused on the blueprint to achieving the integration of digital technologies into the core of the organization.
New digital technologies are continuing to emerge and customer expectations for obtaining products and services are evolving. Leveraging digital technologies to enhance, or even influence customer expectations and experiences are vital to business growth. Digital transformation should therefore be expected to feature prominently in the strategic plans of many organizations. Notwithstanding the general acceptance that more organizations need to prioritize the digital transformation effort, it is prudent to recognize that failure rates are still relatively high. Hence, the process should be approached methodically, systematically and carefully.
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