That hush you hear is the vacuum in which all the palaver about digital transformation used to be.
In April of 2018, I wrote the first installment in what’s turned out to be this two-part series. In it, I expressed my wonder at the phrase — digital transformation — my curiosity about what it might actually mean, and my befuddlement at the fact that a coterie of digital transformation proponents and promoters was unable to define it.
We can attribute its inevitable demise to at least two things:
- The realization that digital transformation was buzzword hogwash at its finest. Most of the world was already digital (or digitalized, if you prefer). The hyping of digital transformation was a feeble and ill-conceived attempt to sell digits (digital technologies) into the rare remaining nooks and crannies into which they didn’t yet exist — and to make the evolution toward digitalization sound like a revolutionary boat we dare not miss. Some folks actually fell for it and continued to fall until …
- The coronavirus. Once the pandemic hit and we were all shuttered away like Dracula in his nighttime coffin, we awoke to daylight and the withering realization that, if the vaunted digital transformation hadn’t already occurred, we’d all be communicating with land lines, telegraphs, smoke signals, and various drum languages. There’s nothing like a global reality check to take the wind out of fraudulent, hyperbolic sails (and sales) I always say.
The Morning After
So, here we are. Courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re all shuttered up, battened down, and managing to communicate with each other rather handily, thank you very much, thanks to … right. Digitalization. Cell phones, smart phones, mobile phones (or anything else you might care to call them), tablets, laptops, desktop computers, Zoom, GoToMeeting, join.me, et al. — we’re so digitally hooked up we can hardly stand down. No wonder we never hear digital transformation anymore.
Since we have time for it during this pandemic, let’s conduct a linguistic/anthropological experiment. The next time some terminological banality gets hammered into the lexicon, let’s do two things:
- Follow the money.
- Refuse to adopt it for two years.
If we do #1, we’ll likely recognize it for the mercenary hype it is. If we do #2, it’ll probably just go away of its own transparent charlatanism, irrelevance, immateriality, or flat-out absurdity.
In the meantime, we can continue to talk with each other, in plain language, thanks to digitalization.
Now that’s a transformation.