By Roy Atkinson
Published on ThinkHDI
HDI’s SPOCcast is your single point of contact podcast for service management and support insights. For Episode 23, I interviewed Charles Araujo about the meaning of digital transformation and what’s next. Although I’m sure you will find these excerpts enlightening, do listen to the entire podcast when you can.
RA: Everybody’s talking about digital transformation. Everywhere I look, every article I read—everybody’s talking about digital transformation. But it seems to me that most people don’t have a clear idea of what it is. Can you define what you mean when you talk about digital transformation?
CA: Yeah you know it’s a great, a great question. To start with, because it’s something that I’ve been talking about—digital transformation—long before it was cool. My journey with digital transformation actually started almost six years ago. I was on a speaking tour through New Zealand. I know there’s a lot of service management type folks [in this audience]. I was speaking at about 5 different events in 10 days, and one of them was the itSMF event in New Zealand. But one of the other events I was speaking at was something called the Digital Disruption Conference, and…it was the first time I was talking to a non-IT audience. It was an event hosted by the Auckland University of Technology and the US Embassy and sort of their answer to TED Talks. It was about how to build new business development for the business community of Auckland in New Zealand and…it was academics, and CEOs, and tech startups. And so, at the time I’d written my first book called The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT Is About to Change and my focus was really all about IT transformation.
And I realized that IT really wasn’t a great topic for this audience and so it caused me to step back and ask how these forces that I’ve been researching and writing about and talking about are actually affecting this broader world outside of IT and so that’s what led me to focus on digital transformation.
But you’re right that people now use this term…to mean everything and anything, and frankly, sadly, maybe, mostly to sell software, mostly to sell technology. And from my standpoint, digital transformation is sort of a bad term. It’s because it’s not really about digital per se; it’s really about business and organizational transformation. But even more than that, it’s about the shift in power away from the organization, and to the customer, where the customer now becomes the center of everything that generates value for an organization versus the industrial age where it was really about this product in a supply chain and mass producing a mass product for a mass market. So, that to me is the essence of what digital transformation is; it’s really about re-centering everything that the organization is doing around the customer and around delivering a differentiated customer experience.