Digital Transformation…Overused…Misunderstood?

Jon Idle Uncategorised

I was recently up at the SAP user group conference, and in the introductory speeches, SAP gave their headline vision for SAP in 2016 to flashing lights and loud music. Yes DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION. Now I’m beginning to get a little tired of the amount of times I see this phase used for anything digital, so is this actually correct?

The English dictionary describes transformation as “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance”

In the IT world, According to Technopedia, Digital Transformation is:-

“the changes associated with digital technology application and integration into all aspects of human life and society. It is the move from the physical to digital”

Ah, wonderful. It is the last sentence that is the interesting one, Physical to Digital. This for me is genuine transformation from one form to another. I mean take anything that’s already digital; taking it down to the base level, everything digital is 0 or 1. Once “transformed” it’s still 0 or 1! (Or as one former associate describes – it’s all i’s and o’s, ah good times…..). Now forgive me, but this is hardly a transformation is it? Physical (sending letter) to digital (email) is, and therefore, I would argue that digital evolution or something similar would be a far more appropriate description.

Take SAP – Their drive for “digital transformation” is the move to HANA, or to put this another way, use our cloud version of SAP. Now, we were actually asked at the conference by an SAP user what the Cloud actually is, and my colleague came up with the best answer – It’s just someone else’s Server. Brilliant! So the whole drive for SAPs digital transformation extravaganza is about using their server rather than your own! WOW.

Call me cynical, but I suspect SAP have a hidden meaning for digital transformation. – Converting customer digital pounds into their digital pounds, instantly transforming your money to theirs and I’m not the only sceptic. According to a poll of SAP users, only 20% bought into SAPs digital transformation vision, but perhaps that’s partly due to the hype surrounding the use of the word transformation.

There’s no doubt we have been and are still seeing digital transformation, (physical to digital), but for me, it is massively overused which reduces its potency, and therefore, if we can think of something less drastic when talking about new digital services like digital evolution. Perhaps, (or perhaps not) SAP may find more people buying into their vision if presented more realistically.

Jon Idle is a Director at SAP / Enterprise Mobility, SAP Integration / SAP Data services / Agile Dev / Test.

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