Let’s tackle a question on a basic level first; what is digital transformation? By definition, digital transformation entails considering how products, processes, and organizations can be changed through the use of new, digital technologies.

"One of the greatest opportunities of the digital era is government's newfound opportunity – and duty – to fully understand citizens' needs as well as the impacts of policy and program decisions. The more we know about the interdependencies of policy areas, and the more data we have, the higher the standards for effective governance." - Governance in the Digital Age, Canadian Public Policy Forum

It seems to be everywhere now - we see digital transformation as a hashtag on social media, the topic of many articles and blogs, and as part of mandates for government and many businesses alike.

It's occurring for a number of reasons

Today’s digital transformation is about changing or redefining a business strategy because how business and interaction happens across the enterprise is literally changing as you read this.

From digital services like citizen engagement, government tools for supporting business, families, or climate change, to varied private sector solutions…how users and consumers, government and business all collide online has created a digital environment where the outcomes must now provide accessibility and value.

Mobile has officially taken over online market share vs desktop at just over 55%, with desktop now about 42%, and the remaining 3% is on tablets. The requirement of the mobile user experience has forced change at a rapid pace and much of the private and public sectors must catch up. This is a perfect example of Moore’s law, the principle that our reliance on technology will increase exponentially, and we can expect the speed and capability of our computers to increase every couple of years, and we will pay less for them.

Transparency is also driving the transformation. Data is king and numbers add up to factual proof and rock-solid evidence. A data-based approach means transforming an enterprise and that digital experience must deliver accuracy and accountability online to shareholders and citizens. The digital delivery of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting now offers visibility and accountability to not only stakeholders such as corporate investors but also to customers and employees.

User experience really matters now. If we look at a private-sector example, Netflix is a fascinating story of digital evolution. Once upon a time in 1997, Netflix was started as a DVD rental business through the mail. Today, Netflix is a finely tuned digital experience available on cable, desktop, mobile, tablets and almost anywhere you can stream it. Netflix digitized to meet the growing demand of choice, ease of use for their customers, and their user experience has turned into what so many tech companies strive to achieve as the gold standard.

The end to this story is the dream digital outcome. Netflix was able to adapt its business and processes to create a world-class and defining digital experience for its users. They developed a laser-focused understanding and insight into their user preferences all through data, and evidence became the foundation of their user experience design.

Why it matters

While a digitized enterprise tool has so many impacts on the outcome of a company or government, a significant impact currently being experienced is within an organization's culture. Whether it is within government or a global company, digital solutions are impacting people across the board in so many different ways.

”As technologies emerge, private sector organizations use the profit motive to stay on or ahead of the curve. Consider the evolution from bank tellers ($0.65 to $4.00 per transaction) to ATMs ($0.08) and online banking ($0.03). For every year a bank lagged behind in implementing a new technology, it paid unnecessarily high costs to do business. For governments, certain features complicate this accounting. There are costs to being proactive.” - Governance in the Digital Age, Canadian Public Policy Forum

Looking at software development, a company and its digital approach directly impact its Human Resources team with their ability to attract, hire and retain top talent. There is a shortage of developers across North America, and lack of skilled talent is the number-one issue for Canadian businesses according to a KPMG poll.

How a development company approaches its recruitment is critical in this highly competitive talent-challenged market. You get one chance to create that powerful and impactful first digital impression, that’s it. If you miss, chances are it’s costing your organization the opportunity to engage with a lot of great digital talent.

Human Resources and their recruitment efforts are just one example of where digital transformation is changing the enterprise. There is also an opportunity to have a positive impact on marketing, administration, and customer support.

Digital transformation is a very hot topic within government these days and we are seeing a public sector shift in almost every country around the world with digital strategies. The Digital Nations was formed in 2014 and in December of this past year participating countries the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Korea, and Uruguay signed off on the 2021 Digital Nations Charter. If all goes well, this collaborative approach and partnering on digital topics like open-source, inclusion, skills and training, and sustainability to name a few will make a big difference in citizens’ lives globally.

A transformative and meaningful outcome

How can this, truly, make a difference? The digital divide is a significant gap between people who have, and do not have, access to digital tools. It means many Indigenous, low-income, rural communities and others can’t easily access the information many of us are privileged to have and take for granted.

Digital transformation is only the beginning of closing the digital divide, and ultimately a global digital transformation will result in very important citizen benefits.

Imagine the perfect digital world…seamless transparency and involvement in government policy and outcomes for citizens, simple access to all government programs online from anywhere on any device, improvement in the delivery of much-needed social support programs, and so much more.

Ultimately, it's about creating a digital service that makes people's lives better at a time when citizen expectations are at an all-time high. There is no one right way of doing this. But putting our citizens/users first to understand what problems we’re trying to solve with digital technology is a good place to start. And the more we work towards these problems together, the stronger we’re all going to be.

Delivering value and meaningful digital outcomes for citizens and businesses has become a requirement, not an option.

Do you have a digital transformation story? We’d enjoy hearing about it, please contact us.

Image Credit: Zoey Li / Midjourney

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