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Digital Transformation: History, Present, and Future Trends
December 12, 2016
The world is changing faster than ever. The Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, cloud, big data, augmented reality, blockchain, and social media are driving companies to the next level of digital customer engagement and IT-enabled business processes, products, and services. In virtually every industry, digital technologies are bringing about unprecedented transformation and changing our work and lives in ways we have never anticipated.

A Short History of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is an actively discussed topic these days, but this was also true in the late 1990s and again in the mid-2000s. We started to computerize processes almost 30 years ago, and we have already implemented digital activities in our organizations.

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First, digital channels, or websites, connected companies and their customers. After that, digital processes emerged to support customer interactions. As companies’ digital ambitions quickly grew, they soon needed dedicated digital teams to manage new social and mobile channels. This enabled organizations to leverage digital data on their own activities and interactions. Connected to customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, companies realized that they operated in digital networks.

To make better use of the vast amounts of information, companies started to connect all processes and devices into networks. Seeing potential in connectivity, organizations focused on digital platforms connecting all system players rather than the traditional method of doing business through intermediaries. Companies began to experiment with new digital ways of doing business, trying to leverage data more effectively, create greater agility, and retain talent.

Riding the Digital Transformation Wave
Practically all digital transformation initiatives of today are being built on so-called 3rd Platform technologies and solutions, including mobile, cloud, big data/analytics, and social technologies. Innovation Accelerators—IoT, robotics, 3D printing, next-generation security, and others—depend on the 3rd Platform and expand its capabilities. In the rapidly scaling digital marketplace, they have become the key growth drivers for many companies.

Digital technology is integrated into every aspect of today’s companies, and those businesses that fail to set an efficient digital strategy and maximize the impact of digitalization risk being left behind. The Russell Reynolds Associates survey shows that media, telecom, and consumer financial services were the most disrupted sectors in 2015, with retail and technology close behind.

Digital technologies transform industries in completely new ways, offering fundamental improvements in personalization, efficiency, and safety. However, we have only started exploring the digital opportunities, and this digital transformation has only just begun. In the near future, digital innovations and initiatives will take us into new transformation phases, bringing exciting changes to our lives and reshaping the global economy.

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