Why, really, should you learn Digital Transformation?

When I was younger, my father often said to me: “Learn this… Because it’s good for you.” But even though he just wanted me well… it didn’t work. Does that way of arguing actually work in any contexts? But, then perhaps this way of thinking instead can help you move forward…

You can look at the expression “Digital Transformation” in slightly different ways. Unfortunately, many (even most?) people see it as almost anything that is about digitalization, which in itself is strikingly strange – expressions that can be filled with almost anything does not serve any purpose.

You, like all of us, already know that digitalization is important.

The term “Digital Transformation” has nowadays also often become synonymous with “let’s just digitize nearly everything we can see” – and the more, the better.

But for such a way of reasoning, which actually is also completely wrong, not everything should be digitalized,… in fact, there is no need for a new expression. If that is the way you see it, just do it.

It´s not about that. It is about why, and how, digitalization is important….

In short, one could argue that there are three, not two, not one, ways of looking at the wave of digitalisation we are seeing around us right now.

Digital transformation is about this third way – actually; the, today, most important one.

And you don´t need an expression like Digital Transformation for the other two ways.

The first way is the old classic, which we have already been doing for many decades. It’s about continuing to do what we’re already doing, but… faster, cheaper. In business language: increased productivity, more for the money. Bring in digital solutions, make existing things better, faster, cheaper, pretty often also a really good idea.

But you don’t need a new expression of the type “digital transformation” for that. Methods for how to do this already exist, also expressions, have done so for a very long time.

The second way is a little more modern, but still already classic. It’s about doing what we’re not already doing. In the business language: business development, making existing customers happier than they already are. Using digital solutions for developing a business, also often a really good idea.

But you also don’t need a new expression of the type “Digital transformation” for that.  Methods for this kind of thing already exist, also expressions, have done so for a long time.

Unfortunately, it is usually one of these two things that many, both consultants and academics, fill the term “digital transformation” with today. But it makes no sense

There are already methods for this, so why a completely new expression?

Then there’s a third way, the reason why you should care about Digital Transformation…

That very reason comes from the fact that, nowadays, we can also use computers for one more thing. We can use them to completely transform something fundamentally… companies, industries, in some cases things as big as whole countries.

A good example of the latter is the music industry. It has undergone a complete transformation, also for the better. From vinyl and CDs, via pirate sharing, over to streaming, in brief. Which has led to us all today being able to access absurdly much more music than before (30 million songs on Spotify) but… at an absurdly much lower cost than before (today 10 Euros per month, at that time… at least 30 Euros per month, but not at all 30 million songs). And during that road: some big companies have actually gone under, while totally new ones have taken position…and nearly everyone surviving have been forced to change ­– adapt to totally new circumstanse.

Nothing in the music industry nowadays is anymore, as it ones was. It is the “structure” for that whole industry that has changed. Actually; it even needed to change, because without that change…we would not be in the situation we are in today – streaming would, simply put…not exist.

If you are interested in learning more about that, the “real story” of what actually has happened to the music industry, it is often a story full of misinterpretations nowadays, try Play it, well.

The transformation of the music industry show precisely what is now possible to achieve with the help of digital tools – this, the third reason. And this, is a process that seem to be ongoing at this moment in industry after industry, after industry.

However, it is not possible to use thinking of digitalisation as a “productivity issue”, or even “business development issue” in order to achieve this. The whole thing about what’s happened in that industry, that it’s been “disrupted“… is that it has been fundamentally transformed.

Working with productivity and business development is often great, but actually not the “big thing” when an industry is disrupted.

Productivity and business development is only useful during a situation of a stable industry-structure but during disruptive times the previous industry-structure is changing…un-stable times.

It´s just not the right way to cope with disruption – but Digital Transformation is.

Digital Transformation is a way of dealing with this very kind of completely harrowing process of change – coping with disruption, in short.

Either: how do you disrupt an industry yourself? Or: how do you as an organization survive in an industry that is disrupted?

Knowledge about Digitial Transformation can be used in order to answer these two types of questions

Learning how to cope with such issues can not only help you earn a fortune yourself in the future, if that happen to be your desire, but also help you understand present times, even foresee our joint future – one actually can be interested in the future, but without having money as the big personal driving force.

You shouldn’t learn Digital Transformation because someone else might say it’s “good for you.” Instead, you should learn it because… it is a strikingly exciting and important, area of our present times… not least for all of us who intend to live, say, at least a few more decades from now and continue to try to be relevant – you thought, right?

But then I think you can also learn Digital Transformation because it can be fun to do it too. Try for instance Stop! Nobody Move! on the subject. I don’t think you’re going to regret it.

If you want to learn more about Digital Transformation, “master it”, I also give this course, Impact from Digital Transformation, at Coursera. 

I don’t think you’ll consider that boring either.

But avoid learning Digital Transformation from those who just filled the expression with things that either already exist or are just blurry. Life is far too short to devote to the hunt for empty buzzwords… even if we all really want each other well.

-> Share this post with someone else that perhaps are thinking about learning Digital Transformation at this moment. Others can have use of it.

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