Like many IT leaders, you’ve been pursuing digital transformation – perhaps for years.
But what does “digital transformation” mean?
Like many before it, the phrase has taken on the reputation of a buzzword, a popular term that eludes a specific definition. As Softchoice VP of Innovation Craig McQueen writes in his recent article “Digital Transformation: Why Now?” (published on CMS Wire and reproduced in part below), the idea of digital transformation isn’t exactly new.
However, two new factors will shape the concept in the 2020s:
- The rise of widely available public cloud infrastructure means game-changing technology is no longer exclusive to the big enterprise.
- Meanwhile, vast improvements in the ease and sophistication of data collection, processing and analysis make once-futuristic concepts like AI and machine learning much easier to achieve.
How will these developments change the way we think about “digital transformation” in the years to come? We go deeper in the article below:
Digital Transformation: Why Now?
This article was first published in full on CMS Wire, February 13, 2020.
It’s hard to avoid the phrase “digital transformation” in technology articles these days. The thing is we’ve been in the digital age for at least 40 years. Companies have been transforming with the use of digital technology for a long time now. For example, in 1986 the New York Times covered “Digital’s Surprising Revival” which looked into the business transformation of Digital Equipment Corporation.
Why is digital transformation so important right now for companies? What’s different?
We’ve Been Digitally Transforming for Years Now
First, let’s define digital transformation, as it could mean different things to different people. Gartner defines it as, “Digital transformation can refer to anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.”
Examples of the types of technology driving digital transformation in 2020 are cloud computing, machine learning, internet of things, among many others. The foundations of these technologies have been around for many years. I took courses in pattern recognition, machine intelligence and image analysis at University of Waterloo almost 30 years ago (I think I just dated myself). One of my professors was doing consulting on detecting cracks in ice flows using pattern recognition algorithms. Another professor and two grad students were doing facial recognition and facial animation (believe it or not to do low-bandwidth video conferencing). When it comes to internet of things, the use of collecting data from and controlling edge devices started in the 1970s with technologies such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) for engineering and X10 used for home automation.
What’s different now? Two major areas have surfaced: the democratization of technology and the availability of data. Cloud vendors have enabled both of these areas which is making it possible for businesses to embark on their digital transformation journey. Here’s how.
Craig McQueen is Vice President – Innovation at Softchoice.