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How I explained Digital Transformation to my 11-year-old

Long story short I found myself doing this last Sunday. This is what I said (cutting out the numerous questions he had along the way).

Buying sausage online as it has always been

Imagine that we want to buy some sausage online.

We search on google, find a company and then check out how it looks on their website, read the description on how it will taste, maybe watch some videos and read some reviews.

Then I enter my name, address, phone number, credit card information and place the order.

Then wait a few days, hopefully not too long, and then sausage arrives in a frozen. We then defrost, cook, eat.

Photo by Edi Libedinsky on Unsplash

“What’s wrong with that?”, he asked.

Nothing is wrong with the way the we bought the sausage (except going forward the site cookie will follow me everywhere – I did not tell him that!)

Buying sausage from a digitally transformed organization

“But imagine this”, I told my 11-year-old.

What if we got a quick taste of the sausage first?

He was confused because it is not possible to taste sausage over the internet!

I told him that there could be different people putting up videos eating the sausage, telling us how it tastes – is there a snap to the bite, is it spicy, sweet, how it smells, feels great after eating it” and the chef comes and tell us all the good things that go into it – we can get a better idea right?

He nods along. I continued…

Once we place the order, what if you can get to see how the sausage is getting made specially for just for you?

What if you can see that good meat is getting ground up in a clean meat-grinder, exciting spices going in, getting cased, going into a cool computerized oven, drying on clean racks, getting packaged carefully with your name on it and then you know exactly where the sausage is?

What if it comes delivered almost ready to eat with some bread, mustard, ketchup, slaw – whatever you like and after you have had it, you can tell everyone how awesome it was and for that you will get free sausages – wouldn’t that be great?

He was sold.

The raw definition of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a process by which organizations change their physical processes to digital processes using technology, by always thinking about how these would impact the customer.

Organizations have forever undertaken transformation initiatives – it is nothing new. One of the primary drivers of all this is that organizations realize that they are losing their relevancy in an industry. Such transformations are drastic in nature – they aim to change the core beliefs and business models of a company. 

Successful transformations have always kept the customer at the heart of the initiatives. With the advent of the internet, customers are moving more to the web and as such transformation efforts are becoming more and more focused on amplifying the web presence. Industries are labeling this as digital transformation where the customer is able to digitally “feel” every part of an organization, from the very first time they know its presence till the time they get the first order followed by support and hopefully loyalty.

During such a transformation, organizations may have to change their business model to fit the changing environments and to gain competitive advantages in the industry and the markets in which it wants to grow/lead.

There are many reports on how to do DX (the most accepted acronym for digital transformation), how to measure returns, how long is the payback etc. (feel free to reach out to me if you want to learn more about these).

But I want to go back on the “Why” because that can really explain how DX came about and became one of the most sought-after business words in Google.

Why do organizations care about exposing their internal processes to customers?

Organizations are more fluid today than ever before. The walls of organizations are corroded and the best organizations are now ecosystems of partners, vendors, customers, prospects, competition, substitutes, and new entrants. The advent of smarter algorithms and big data have resulted in more informed buyers. This resulted in buyers wanting to know more not only the product they are buying, but how it is made, where it is sourced from and how it will be supported.

Organizations are no longer making the sausage inside closed doors. Devices are able to provide notifications, algorithms are able to determine when, how and why to connect with customers and big data is able to harness behavior before customers are able to understand their behavior themselves.

Getting back to my 11-year-old

So, he asked me “will I be able to do digital transformation when I grow up?” I was quite happy because the little guy had figured out how to perk up my ego – he wants to be like dad!

I told him in the next decade there will be significant advancements to technology. Self-driven cars, smarter homes that can order for the customer, incredibly fast internet, smart devices that will make a lot of decisions for us, are examples of such advancements.

Sitting here today we can feel that the world in 10 years would have transformed. But by that time, we will see a new transformation taking shape – one that we may speculate on now, but will not know till we get closer.

I may have confused him with my last answer, but definitely got him thinking. If you are reading this let me know your thoughts?

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