You’ve seen it scattered across the web and in industry news. You’ve heard colleagues and competitors talking about how they’re doing it. You may even be considering it yourself for your company. What are we talking about? The elusive – yet enticing – ‘digital transformation’. It’s so popular, in fact, Forbes reports, 70% of companies are either working on putting a digital transformation strategy into place or already have one. 

But before you dive headlong into a digital transformation of your own, our friend Scott Abel – President of The Content Wrangler and seasoned pro in the digital content game – says to check your definition of what digital transformation actually means to be sure you’re doing it the right way, and for the right reasons.

According to Scott, the term ‘digital transformation’ has been co-opted to mean any number of things as it relates to a business’s growth. Companies may be deploying digital transformation to revamp individual areas like their marketing strategies, internal operations, systems and tech, and more. Scott’s old-school vocabulary looks at it through a more holistic lens. Scott’s observing that, “software companies are using digital transformation and other words, like artificial intelligence, to get attention, and to convince people to buy their products. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not an actual transformation.”

“It’s time for an extreme makeover of business as usual. That’s what digital transformation is. It’s extreme makeover.” – Scott Abel – CEO, The Content Wrangler

Scott likens it to the transformation that happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Everything has to fundamentally change in order for that transformation to occur. While your company may not be transforming from a land-dwelling being to one who can fly, by Scott’s definition, the same idea holds true for business. In order to do digital transformation the “right way”, everything is affected. 

When you attempt to simply transform one area, like your outward-facing marketing content, for example, you may miss the impact that transformation will have on the other departments that marketing content touches, like sales, customer experience, or operations. Rather than tackling digital transformation in a single area, Scott recommends looking at it from every angle. When you evaluate digital transformation holistically, you’re able to take a 50,000 foot view of your company and get the opportunity to see the interconnections that exist and how you can tighten all of them up at once.

How do you do it? Find the connections, and the gaps

So the big question becomes, “how do we do digital transformation the right way?” Scott suggests that the place to start would be by looking at your internal teams and the tools you use. Ask yourselves why you use them, and what it is that you’re trying to accomplish with them. Then evaluate if the way you’re doing it is the best way, and if not, develop your digital transformation strategy from those gaps. And don’t forget to look at those interconnections between systems, processes, and departments, to be sure that making a change in one area isn’t going to negatively impact another. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Scott reminds us to create our plan and then actually implement it. Because what good is a plan without action?

Where are you in the digital transformation journey? And what new insights did reading this spark for you? We’d love to know – share in the comments so we can all grow together.

For more from Scott Abel and The Content Wrangler, check out their popular series of content strategy books.