Real Digital Transformation vs. Snake Oil


I had dinner with a very good friend of mine last week. He asked me what I was working on these days, but before I could answer he said laughing “Please tell me it’s NOT Digital Transformation”.

So, in the past 24 months you have heard all the IT terms or the associated acronyms for:
• Digital Transformation (DT)
• Augmented Reality (AR)
• Big Data
• Machine Learning (ML)
• Artificial Intelligence (AI)
• Blockchain
• Everything on Demand (EOD)
• Internet of Things (IOT)
• Self Serve Analytics
• And of course, Cloud etc.

Are they just buzzwords or is it something real that 10 years from now you are going to really, really wish you had paid closer attention to? Let’s check history.
In the 80’s, these buzzwords were around:

• Personal Computing (PC)
• Windows
• Local Area Networking (LAN)
• Open Systems (Unix)
• Relational Databases (RDBMS)
• Electronic Mail (email)

In the 90’s,

• Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)
• eCommerce (eBay, Amazon)
• World Wide Web (www)
• Google, Yahoo
• Laptop Computer

In the first decade of 2000,

• Bluetooth
• Voice over IP (VOIP)
• Search Engine
• Facebook
• Social Networking
• Twitter
• Smartphone (Blackberry, iPhone etc.)

In the 2010’s

• Tablets
• iPad
• Android

Historically, many buzzwords are associated with technology that has fundamentally changed our lives and changed the world. However, everyone likes to jump on the buzzword bandwagon, some without crystalizing what it actually means and some purveyors of “Digital Transformation” are no different than snake-oil salespersons and that’s why, rightfully, it gets a laugh at the dinner table.

However, real Digital Transformation means that there are and will be completely new ways of how you conduct business enabled by technologies that are being created at an ever-accelerating pace. It took 20+ years for email to be pervasive but it took less than 10 years for Facebook to be ubiquitous. Today no business would ignore either of these channels as they are both core to their consumer contact. In 5 years, UBER changed transportation globally as we know it. The time from concept to production in new technologies and services is continually shrinking. This is why Digital Transformation is critical to any business and even more critical, what partner you pick to go on that journey with. Your partner cannot be someone that just see’s today’s technologies, because by the time you implement them, the next generation is already upon you. Pick someone with vision and a true understanding of digital transformation … not just a snake-oil salesperson.


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