Digital technologies are changing everything. A neural network re-created a Picasso painting that had never been publicly seen. MRIs can depict high-quality images of moving joints without going under the skin. From checking Google Maps for traffic to asking your phone where the nearest coffee shop is, digital technologies touch every aspect of our lives.
Digital technologies have also opened opportunities for transformation. However, we must curiously discover and consciously embrace them.
I recently learned a lesson from my children. We travel a lot, and I'll check the weather at the destination with Amazon's Alexa and decide what to pack. My boys, on the other hand, just ask Alexa, "Do I need a raincoat in Boston this week?" I realized I had "digitized" a two-step process from my childhood. First, I acquired the weather information. Second, I converted that knowledge into packing decisions. My kids didn't grow up with the previous process – so they intuitively transformed it.
In the business world, I meet leaders who understand this need for digital transformation, but challenges remain about where to start. Too often, providers offer technology as the answer that's looking for the question. Then, although there's plenty of choice in digital technologies, some require complex implementations. Broad horizontal solutions can often be too generic, and change management difficult to achieve.
And yet, the sense of urgency around digital transformation is palpable – and for good reason. The cost of computing and storage is coming down. Data usage is exploding, and natural language understanding has become human-grade, lighting up dark data in documents and conversations. As a result, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are expanding the opportunities for digital transformation at scale.
So, how do enterprises use these digital technologies to realize true transformation? Let's look at three critical considerations: