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What is NOT Digital Transformation?

MMS Founder

Article originally posted on Data Science Central. Visit Data Science Central

These days many companies have embarked on Digital Transformation. Unfortunately, not many have found good success. A recent study in Forbes, says over 84% of Digital Transformation initiatives in business enterprises fail. While lot of articles talk of Digital Transformation including reasons for the poor failure rate, critical success factors, etc.., here is my take on what is NOT Digital Transformation. Here are the top 5 aspects (based on what I have seen) where the means have taken more importance than the end (goal).

  1. Digital transformation is NOT Analytics (and Artificial Intelligence or Machine learning). Digital transformation is using quality data to question your assumptions and challenging the status-quo. Do not get carried away with fancy dashboards and colourful infographics if you have little insights on how the data is collected for the dashboard. An article in Harvard Business Review, states just 3% of the data in a business enterprise meets quality standards.
  2. Digital Transformation is NOT about data capture and storage. You don’t capture and store data just because RAM or storage is cheap. Data management should be tied to improving the business process and every data filed should have a business utility. Studies by Forrester says that over 70% of data in an organization is never used for any strategic purposes. Digital Transformation is about data consumption to improve decision making, compliance, and operations. 
  3. Digital transformation is NOT an IT initiative. Most Digital Transformation projects easily camouflage into IT or cloud migration projects. A few years back, cloud deployment was a disruptive technology. Today, many cloud services are provided by those who delivered on-premise solutions a couple of years back thereby making the cloud offering a commodity service. Most cloud migrations today is practically data center migration. Digital Transformation is opportunity or problem-driven; it is enabling the business for a sustainable competitive advantage. Digital Transformation is focusing on the business goals and outcomes and not the technology; technology is the means to the end.
  4. Digital Transformation is NOT an outsourcing initiative (to India) or engaging an army of highly paid management consultants (for their fancy PowerPoint slides). Digital Transformation is having a simple, scalable, and flexible digital infrastructure to serve the business effectively.
  5. Finally, Digital Transformation is NOT celebrating failure in the name of “learning”. Digital Transformation is a serious, expensive, and strategic business initiative and failure is NOT an option in today’s business environment. Digital Transformation should be tied to business results such as productivity, market access, innovation, compliance, and cost reduction.


Ultimately, success in Digital transformation is about change and realizing any change needs strong leadership and culture. The change will be painful and this change is inevitable if the organization needs to survive in today’s volatile business environment.  Winston Churchill once said – “If you are going through hell, keep going.”  Hell, here represents the struggle; if you keep going when it is hard, you will reach paradise.


Prashanth H Southekal is the Managing Principal of DBP-Institute. He specializes in monetizing business data for insights, compliance, and operations. He brings over 20 years of Information Management experience from companies such as SAP AG, Shell, Apple, P&G, and General Electric. He has published two books on Information Management including the most recent – Data for Business Performance. For more details on DBP-Institute’s service offerings, please visit


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