Your Digital Transformation is Floundering? Revealing Why

Sorry folks, your efforts to move to the cloud, create CI/CD pipelines, or centralize a data lake is not digital transformation. Nor are projects to get your organization on Microsoft 365, establish unified communications, or develop microservice architectures. 

And watch out for vendors who are selling products that "deliver digital transformation."

Floundering Digital Transformation - Isaac Sacolick

These are all likely important technology investments and may constitute an IT transformation. But I hold digital transformations at a higher bar.

Digital Transformations Change The Business Model

Digital transformations use culture, collaboration processes, and new technologies to change the business model. They are led by transformation leaders who recognize who you sell to today, what you are selling, how products and services are sold, how they are fulfilled, and how customers are serviced must evolve significantly from what made the organization successful in the past.

StarCIO Driving Digital Assessments

To do this, most digital transformations start with market analysis and understanding customer experiences. Nearly all digital transformations require organizations to consider becoming data-driven and using analytics to strategic advantage.

Planning and executing digital transformations requires a collaborative operating model, which is why practices like product management, agile, devops, data science, and citizen development are critical in digital transformations. 

And getting leaders and employees to understand, participate, and drive changes requires most organizations to adopt transformative cultures. It entails challenging the status quo, asking questions, learning new skills, adopting digital responsibilities, seeking inclusivity, promoting diversity, and thinking globally.

Digital transformation almost always requires technology investments to deliver new products, transform customer experiences, automate repetitive tasks, integrate systems, and improve data quality. Some innovation experiments will start as POCs, and hopefully, the organization is using agile practices to deliver MVPs and enhancements

Because innovation, POCs, and new technologies are often "bottom-up" exercises, it can create confusion that delivering new tech is digital transformation. Leaders must develop and communicate their vision, and leaders sponsoring initiatives should be contributing to the digital transformation roadmap. 

What Are We Still Discussing Digital Transformation?

The sad answer is that many organizations aren't delivering business value, impact, and outcomes from their investments. Their digital practices exist as shallow processes, and their technology investments likely creating a new generation of technical debt.

That's because digital transformations are challenging. They are really hard to plan, execute, and deliver business impact.

But they are delivering financial returns.

I share more in this week's 5 Minutes with @NYIke episode - and please reach out to me if I can answer any of your questions!


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Effective transformation agendas are still very much in the backseat of a 3-row car. While we are seeing some nifty creativity and effective use of technology in some areas such as automotive, gaming and POS, others are still lagging far behind, to the point of even sleeping at the wheel.

    Back office operations, struggling in this tight employment market, don't even have the luxury to find new hires and are at the perfect vortex to drive innovation and make better use of technology and hold back altogether from needing new hires.

    We see this in our space of ITSM that due to the influx of WFH members are facing an onslaught of incidents/tickets with current solutions (e.g. ServiceNow) leveraging minimal AI and RPA with incremental impact on productivity. The bigger problem is that leadership is NOT pushing these teams to shake the status quo and challenge it with the various solutions that are becoming readily available to monumentally transform and accelerate productivity.
    It's time for these leaders to collapse the seats and move everyone to the driver's side since the technology is ripe and ready.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.