Digital transformation is much more than an empty buzzword. It is a cultural change and strategy that asks companies to continually test the status quo.

It’s time to leap aboard the buzzword bandwagon and explore the real meaning and impact of digital transformation. What does it actually mean?

Simply put, digital transformation is about using technology within a business to improve how the organisation operates and delivers value to its customers.

Typically the key elements of digital transformation concentrate on creating a customer-focused organisation.

This means providing an infrastructure that supports effective collaboration and communications, and fostering a culture that’s willing to challenge the status quo.

Consider today’s reality that few customers would prefer giving up their valuable time by calling a contact centre on their smartphone and wait in queue when they can email, tweet, read online FAQs or use an app instead.

For businesses the message is clear: Integrate these new digital channels or face becoming irrelevant.

That’s where digital transformation comes in.

It streamlines a customer’s digital journey through the organisation to make it easy for them to purchase or solve a problem.

However, to exploit the business opportunities that come with this kind of customer focused approach, organisations need to look towards IT as a strategic investment and driver of business innovation rather than as a mere supportive function of the business.

Given the blistering speed of change intrinsic to many modern markets, the expensive and risky business of integrating technology with strategy is vital.

As well as improving the experience for customers, the right IT investment can also improve the experience for employees.

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To that end, many organisations are now turning towards team collaboration platforms such as Slack, Cisco Spark, Microsoft Teams, and others as an effective means to improve overall performance.

Such platforms reach out beyond the confines of traditional tools (e-mail, instant messaging, and conferencing), encompass others (file sharing services, calendars and intranet sites) and integrate easily with customer relationship management, help-desk and project management software, making these platforms a central hub for overall corporate collaboration and communications.

Certainly the choice of technology platform is important in providing a supportive infrastructure for digital transformation.  This alone, however, will not bring about the necessary changes to make an organisation responsive to ever-changing demands.

A single digital strategy is needed, as this discourages individual departments from pursuing independent goals.

It also helps prevent senior managers from making their own technology decisions, thereby creating potential barriers and bottlenecks.

Company culture reflects an organisation’s entrenched values and beliefs and plays a major part in why a business has been successful.

Consequently, it takes gargantuan effort to adopt and adapt to this scope of change. If it were easy, there would be far fewer companies to have fallen by the wayside to become but a nostalgic name in history.

And therein lies the essence of the issue for many organisations.

Corporate leaders need to celebrate and embrace change. Otherwise their companies will struggle to maintain their current market position, let alone compete with their digitally disruptive rivals.