Five Myths About Digital Transformation

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Today, many boards of directors and senior management teams aspire to the efficiencies, innovation, and competitiveness that digital transformation might deliver.  But, according to Professor Stephen J. Andriole of Villanova University, the path to transformation is a risky one.

Andriole has spent much of his career overseeing and participating in digital transformations in both government and private sector settings.  Specifically, he served as the director of the Cybernetics Technology Office at DARPA; he also served as Chief Technology Officer at both Safeguard Scientifics Inc. and Cigna Corp.   And his decades of observation show that unless a transformation effort is well-planned, exquisitely executed, and enthusiastically sponsored by upper management, it will fail to deliver.

In order to provide clarity, Andriole distilled his observations and experiences into “five myths about digital transformation.”

Let’s examine each of these myths in turn.  And when we’re done, you’ll be less likely to fall prey to the hype about digital transformation and be more aware of how arduous the process really is.

Myth #1: “Every company should digitally transform.”

But the reality is, “Not every company, process, or business model requires digital transformation.”

Digital transformation is not a software upgrade or a supply chain improvement project.  It’s a planned digital shock to what may be a reasonably functioning system. For example, to launch a digital transformation of business processes, it’s necessary to purposefully model those processes with tools that enable creative, empirical simulations.  Think, for example, of the software programs that enable business process modeling and business simulations.

So, as a first step to digitally transforming your processes, you need to honestly assess if your company can create digital models that simulate the nuances inherent in its procedures.  Simply put, the question is this:  Can my company model its existing processes? Many companies cannot.  That’s no crime.  But that means, in all likelihood, that you cannot easily digitally transform all of those processes.

Remember, too, that the impact of any initiative is...

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