When you Google the term ‘What is digital transformation’ you get around 465,000,000 results in less than half a second. Incredible, right?

The space above the fold is dominated by paid advertisements competing for your attention.

The Wikipedia definition of the terms is the use of new and frequently changing digital technology to “solve problems often using cloud computing, reducing reliance on user owned hardware but increasing reliance on subscription-based cloud services”.

So, it’s a technical thing, right?

A report from the Hackett Group lists the winners of its 2019 Digital Awards for companies on the cutting edge of digital transformation:

  1. Vodafone
  2. Shell
  3. Bayer
  4. IBM
  5. HP

Those five excellent companies had all managed to ‘implement mature, large-scale projects that are delivering additional value in ways such as cutting costs, discovering new opportunities, and freeing up talent from thousands of hours of admin work’.

So, it’s a productivity / efficiency / cost cutting thing?

It’s no surprise that executive teams and boards often struggle to get to grips with what the term digital transformation really means.

The volume of material available on the topic is overwhelming. Someone is always trying to sell you something. And a lot of the content is unhelpful, and occasionally contradictory.

Not enough of the content relates to customers, to products, to services, and to how your customers’ relationship with you helps them to compete in their markets.

To define digital transformation, we should start with our customers.

That’s where the demand is. Demand for everything, every single product and service for sale today, is slowly, inexorably migrating to digital. Either partly or completely. And it has been for years. It’s a when question, not an if.

Then there’s the question of the model to decide on. What’s the best ‘Go To Market’ to pursue when you’re considering digital?

It’s quite simple. In B2B, omnichannel beats analogue, and pureplay. No contest. The winning strategy is digital with a human touch.

Digital is simultaneously highly pervasive in the end-to-end customer experience, and very intertwined in internal business processes. That is – perhaps – a little unusual. It’s also one of the elements that make it interesting, innovative, and valuable, particularly on the data and AI side.

Over 80% of customers come to Rubix for the first time through digital channels, so digital is a core part of how we engage with them.

As a result, we are able to use AI in deeply pragmatic ways. We are one of the few distributors to have built a data lake.

The data lake gives us insight into every customer interaction, enabling us to deliver a customised experience whether online or in person.

Digital transformation is nothing special. It’s just the latest thing that businesses have to deal with, and must get good at.

Our recent past is littered with the remains of great companies that failed to ‘get good’ at digital and develop those core competencies that deliver sustainable, profitable, growth, and enable companies to compete in what is now known as the ‘Digital Age’.

While nothing special, digital transformation is a ‘business’ existential need. We should define it as that, starting with our customers, and how we help them to keep the wheels of industry turning, right across Europe.

Keith Reville
Chief Digital and Marketing Officer