The Reality Behind Digital Transformation

Recent study reveals the struggle behind defining and undergoing a digital transformation.


A recent study by Tech Research Asia and Hitachi Data Systems revealed that although businesses value digital transformation, they don’t have a complete understanding or conceptualise its potential for whole-of-business evolution.

The study noted that organisations recognised the importance of a digital transformation, with the majority of participants identifying technology advancement within the business as important or critical.

However, when asked to identify a competitor or market leader in digital transformation, several businesses were unable to put forward organisations meeting such a standard. This reveals that ‘digital transformation’ is a term many industries preach, but few put it into practice.

More than half of survey respondents believe their business is currently undergoing a digital transformation.

Furthermore, a closer analysis suggests that few businesses are actually in this process. Instead, they labelled converting singular sections of the business to digital as a transformation, demonstrating the lack of understanding of what it truly entails.

This is reinforced by Hitachi Data Systems’ Vice-President Nathan McGregor, who believes that major disruptors like Airbnb and Uber put pressure on many businesses to be the next “digital unicorn.”

“While the presence of these disruptors brings a sense of pressure and urgency for the established enterprises to be seen to be labelling initiatives as ‘disruptive’ or ‘digital transformation’, we are finding many businesses classifying their projects as enterprise-wide transformation when in fact they are making a single process digital.”

McGregor also believes there is too much focus on what digital companies do, rather than how they do it and suggests the shift in perception is driven by a thriving business culture taking a holistic approach to digital transformation.

“And while it’s easy to focus on technology being the key to success, we propose that culture plays a more important role. Again, the data shows that is the second biggest challenge for enterprises facing digital transformation.”

The report suggested six key steps in preparing for technology advancements:

  • Familiarise yourself with great digital successes cross-industry.
  • Take a digital health check-up and re-establish your vision and strategy.
  • Push past your digital comfort zones and be ambitious.
  • Aim for agility.
  • Deepen your digital readiness.
  • Treat all digital endeavours as cultural ones.

As McGregor has surmised at the CxO Disrupt series across Australia, it is in everyone’s best interest to foster a disruptive culture, without this instrumental function no amount of promising and disruptive tech innovation within a company will drive growth.