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Digital Transformation

What does it mean to be “digital”?


At a Glance

  • There is a common phenomenon among organisations where they suddenly realise that they are operating in a digital environment, declare digital transformation as their goal, but have no idea what it means to be “digital”.
  • The essence of digital includes adopting a customer-first culture, delivering immersive experiences to customers, and establishing centres of excellence to drive innovation.
  • Few elements can facilitate the transformation of an organisation, and the use of cloud technology, is one of many that can do so.

The relationship between business and technology has changed. Technology is no longer an adjunct, as the C-suite is now aware of the immense power and risks of technology, making it a must-have.  

According to the 2023 Digital Business study, up to 93% of IT decision-makers in North America, APAC (Asia Pacific), and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) have adopted or plan to adopt a digital-first business strategy. Although many organisations are moving their businesses towards a digital-first strategy, many are reported to be struggling or failing.  

And then there is a common phenomenon among organisations – a sudden realisation that they have been operating in a digital environment declaring digital transformation as their goal without a precise understanding of what it really means to be “digital”.  

Digital transformation is a fundamental redesign of business processes, with fully automated processes from end-user interaction to back-office operations, minimising or eliminating human intervention.  

The concept has evolved to include innovations in new digital business models, online systems optimisation, cloud technology, and the fourth industrial revolution. In essence, it represents a fundamental re-evaluation of how businesses operate and thrive in the digital age.  

What digital really is… 

The essence of “digital” includes the following components:  

Customer-First Culture 

Who are your customers? Could they be the users of your digital services? When we treat our users, whether they pay or not, as customers, it reshapes our approach to doing everything we can to keep them happy and loyal.   

To be digital, the culture of the organisation needs to revolve around meeting customer demands – whether that means delivering valuable features, ensuring fast turnaround or response times, or maintaining cost efficiency. Regardless of the specifics, the principle is always to put the customer first.  

Process Efficiency 

A digital service shapes a business process. In this context, digital means that business processes adapt to fit with the computing world, not vice versa. We should avoid replicating offline processes in an online environment.  

Immersive Experience 

It involves creating Intuitive User Interfaces (UIs) and well-defined Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These are the hallmarks of a service for the digital age. User applications should prioritise ease of use, intuitiveness, and responsiveness to customer needs, putting what matters to the customer first. 

Connected Enterprise

Many organisations discuss concepts such as automation and coexistence, but a digital service should incorporate business and technical data into a single repository. The repository allows information to flow freely, fostering collaborative sharing, education, and discussion at scale. Both inbound and outbound information processes are seamless and automated.

Centre of Excellence

This is an innovative initiative to establish a practice that brings together all technical, creative, and digital natives to support the growth of the business. The centre fosters a collaborative environment where diverse expertise comes together to drive innovation.


With access to vast amounts of data, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in the next generation of analytics. This enables organisations to rapidly experiment, learn, and adjust hypotheses. It no longer takes days to address critical business questions; digital analytics bridges the gap between prescriptive and predictive insights, offering real-time decision-making capabilities.

What facilitates the transformation…

1. The Cloud 

This technology is a viable option that can be used to help an organisation becomes digital. The Cloud, as it is widely known, is instrumental in achieving the scalability required for optimal performance and to meet the volume requirements of a digital service. Although it brings with it the complexity of a distributed system, a well-executed cloud strategy can steer the organisation in the right direction.

2. Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery

Before Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), teams or team members would code parts of projects independently. Before going live, they would perform lengthy merge sessions, that were prone to integration errors.

CI/CD, with its frequent commits and minimal merge challenges, encourages the creation of high-quality code quickly and securely. This approach provides more time for the teams to focus on delivering the digital capabilities the business demands.

3. Agile Methodology

As a set of methodologies, it may not be flawless. But as a set of principles, agile fits seamlessly with a digital mindset and enables the regular delivery of solutions tailored to customer needs.

A digital programme without agile at its core will struggle to deliver the transformation needed. If an agile methodology is not feasible, at the very least agile principles should be at the forefront of everything your organisation does. This includes valuing people over resources, adopting just-in-time design, and adhering to evolutionary architecture principles – all of which are relevant regardless of the chosen methodology.

Still not sure what digital is or how to facilitate your organisation’s digital journey?

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