The Only Digital Transformation Definition You Need

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated May 8, 2023

The digital transformation definition has changed significantly over the years. It once meant simply “digitizing processes,” but that as we know has quickly become outdated.

If you are looking for a concise, and arguably timeless digital transformation definition, you have come to the right place. 

Digital transformation definition

Digital transformation encompasses all transitional efforts in which businesses adopt digital technology, digital business practices, and a digital culture.

To further understand what this means, we can break down each key component of how digital transformation can be actualized.

digital transformation

Digital transformation is ongoing

Digital transformation became a term decades ago, and at that time largely meant digitization. But especially today, companies need to leverage digital tools to be more competitive, not just more digital. 

Going forward, companies will need to harness machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and digital adoption solutions or a digital adoption platform (DAP) to be preemptive in business strategies, rather than reactive or presumptive.

Technology is advancing at a faster pace than we can adapt to it which is why digital adoption solutions are critical. Along with that, there are new expectations from users (customers and employees alike) who demand streamlined UX and easy to navigate interfaces. 

Digital transformation and digital maturity

Digital maturity is an elusive, moving target.

Analysts and researchers from credible institutions like MIT Sloane Management Review have outlined the phases of digital transformation which ultimately end with digital maturity. The best of these explains that digital maturity is achieved when an organization uses technology in its core processes and operations and is agile in adopting new technology.

Few companies are considered digitally mature, and even then, their strategy will need to continuously evolve to take advantage of the next generation of opportunities in the digital economy.

Digital transformation takes leadership

Embarking on a digital transformation process is not a singular decision. Rather it requires strong leadership and cooperation from key stakeholders and employees to ensure successful implementation.

Credit: Deloitte Digital & MIT Sloane Management Review

Everest Group found that 78 percent of enterprises today fail to scale their digital transformation initiatives and achieve the desired return on their digital investments.

In order to commit to major transformational change, leaders need to set transparent timelines, objectives, and milestones. Everyone’s role in the process needs to be clear and there has to be executive buy-in to maintain digital transformation objectives as company-wide priorities.

Digital transformation requires digital adoption

Buying and developing the latest technologies might seem like the first step in digital transformation. But even prior to buying new software, companies need to take stock of why their current technologies aren’t being used to the fullest. A digital adoption platform includes analytics that first assesses current usage and where pain points or inefficiencies exist. 

True digital adoption means that employees, leadership, suppliers, partners, customers, and other stakeholders, actually realize the full potential of their digital tools. These tools are there to serve them, but if they are not adopted, they have no purpose.

Credit: Deloitte Digital & MIT Sloane Management Review

Digital transformation must include a robust digital strategy. 70% of organizations today are focusing on measures to use their technology effectively and successful organizations will leverage this time to continue introducing new technologies with the right strategy in place. Digital adoption makes it easier to not only assess a digital strategy but to make new and existing technology accessible to employees and customers alike.

Digital transformation as a catalyst to improve digital business processes 

The purpose of digital transformation is not just to be digital, it’s for companies to be stronger, more competitive, and resilient.  Digital tools open up unlimited potential for how we design processes, shape strategies, and improve the bottom line.

WalkMe’s digital transformation survey of over 550 tech executives outlined some of the barriers that occur when trying to integrate digital transformation with business operations. When technology is fully adopted, operating within a digital space is more fluid and data-based. 

Credit: WalkMe Digital Transformation Survey

Why the digital transformation definition changed

The digital transformation definition went through a major change in the last decade. It was once a term that only concerned IT. The IT department would put a system in place, and that tool would operate on the periphery of business as usual. But today, technology is being used to capture and understand huge amounts of data, automate processes, streamline departments, and open up opportunities never seen before.

Digital transformation is not an isolated event, rather it requires strong leadership, a robust digital strategy and the right digital adoption tools to
guarantee its success. 

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.