It was being called “the move to digital” or “digitalization” or “the digitizing of the workforce” (a misuse of at least one of those words) when I set foot at my first computer conference in the summer of 1978.

“Becoming digital” is a big trend these days, along with capitalism, blood circulation and gravity.

At its heart, wrote Sam Marshall in 2014, the “digital workplace” is about “putting people first.” If that’s so, then how come we don’t call it the “humanification” of technology? 

If people are at the center of this new trend now entering its sixth big decade, then why doesn’t the technology adapt to us. How come we’re always the ones who have to adapt to it?

Excuses, Excuses

Here’s a handful of the excuses we’ve seen in recent years for why this digitalization trend that’s changing everything, must be encouraged to change everything else.

1. To become a user of software, your organization must make itself into the optimum customer of that software. In June 2014, a Forrester report concluded that CEOs don’t like to do things differently, and can’t even be made to do so when new software comes along. They’re stuck with old processes, said the report, and refuse to invent new ones out of the blue.

2. You need to figure out what digital transformation is before your competitors figure it out for themselves. Never mind that we may not know what the transformation formula actually is; the world is a domino theory game where if one competitor claims to have the formula, the rest will topple toward it.

3. Marketers need to figure out a way to sell this. Let’s think about this a little more deeply for a minute: The segment of the enterprise that has the sharpest view of how best to encapsulate ideas that affect positive change, supposedly cannot effectively encapsulate the ideal of digital transformation enough to actually make the transformation themselves (whatever that may be).

If the smartest people in the room… or, more to the point, in any room, have not fathomed the problem of digital transformation to the satisfaction of a survey taker, then whose fault is that really? Wouldn’t that be like me saying, if all you readers disagreed with me … you’re all wrong?

Usually, when a plurality of people agree on something, it’s an indicator of something else. Maybe the true digital transformations going on in businesses are the ones being made to the technology, not by the technology.

Here’s your chance to tell us something about a poly-digital-ification-alization-ism transformation in your business that, in the end, didn’t really transform you or the people you work with, but maybe changed your perspective on what the role of technology should actually be. 

What's digital transformation really all about — and what excuses are we making about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.

Title image "Party it Up" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by TMAB2003