Since the 1980s, Digital Transformation has inspired companies to connect with customers differently. 40 years on, and we’re still in transformation mode, exchanging web apps for native ones, content pillars for content hubs, traditional servers for The Cloud and monolithic architecture for MACH architecture.
What is Digital Transformation?
Enterprise Project describes Digital Transformation as the ‘integration of digital technology into all business areas, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers.
It's a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.’
Who’s digitally transforming?
We hear about the state of Digital Transformation all the time. A quick look at a few statistics helps to illustrate the inconsistent pace at which we adopt (and understand) Digital Transformation:
Statistic 1: A 2016 survey from Harvard Business Review reported that 23% of organisations were non-digital. Meaning they depended on few (if any) products or operations relating to digital technology.
Statistic 2: In 2018, IDG reported that 89% of companies had adopted a digital-first business strategy (or were thinking about it!)
Statistic 3: A 2018 report from Ted Schadler (Principal Analyst at Forrester) tells us that 21% of firms think their transformation is complete!
Statistic 4: In 2020, 91% of businesses reported being engaged in some form of digital initiative (Gartner).
With such a mixed bag of statistics, it can be challenging to keep up.
Is Digital Transformation ever complete?
The notion that Digital Transformation is never “done” is poignantly illustrated by the recent global pandemic. COVID-19 may have (at scale) inadvertently prompted many businesses to look at the effectiveness of current transformation strategies and to find ways to navigate the on-off nature of remote work or the adoption of new technologies that can support customers best.
Digital Transformation services.
Given the recent global situation and the longstanding fascination with Digital Transformation, it’s not surprising that Digital Transformation is now a market in itself (and has been for a long time).
Digital Transformation providers offer other companies their expertise on how to get ahead of competitors using reliable strategies and experimental technologies and trends.
Of course, buzzwords and trends come and go and stick with any marketable service.
Here are a few that we remember:
A brief history of Digital Transformation.
We’ve seen a few trends come and go—some with short lifespans—but many evolving into respected methods within the Digital Transformation industry.
The 1980s - the year of HTML.
With so many limitations in the late 80s and early ’90s, many of the early sites were pretty basic. This wonderful fossilised website for a consulting firm, registered in 1987, can still be found today. Sure, the design is a little rusty, but the HTML and basic User Experience serve as a nice reminder of how far we’ve come.
(And hey, it shows not all of us feel obliged to succumb to the modern pressures of technological evolution).
The 1990s - The CRM years.
90s tech was largely down to the needs of the business.
CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) entered the scene in the 80s and were in full swing by the 90s. According to Infinity Group (and many other sources), it was, indeed, Salesforce that initiated the first software as a service (Saas) platform, a cloud-based CRM suited for small business use, eventually scaled up as enterprises grow.
Back then, the “cloud” to many people was still white fluffy stuff, located above our heads (not many people thought of them as a groundbreaking way for businesses to save money and improve productivity within their organisations).
Salesforce founder, Marc Benioff, had unknowingly set the technological precedent for the next 20 years with his idea that ‘software should be delivered 24/7 to people over the cloud’ (Nira).
The 2000s - The beginning of Agile.
Although it’d been brewing for many years, the term “Agile” was accidentally born from a discussion between 17 software developers in 2001 who wanted to change the traditional approach to software development. They devised a few “rules” and called it the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. (AgileManifesto.org)
Since 2001, Agile has had many different faces, but the principles remain the same and always favour:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
You can check out the complete list of principles here.
Later in 2001, the Agile Alliance was formed, a more permanent version of the original Agile Manifesto. Today, the Agile Alliance is a non-profit membership organisation that has facilitated hundreds of events, including an annual conference sponsored by some of the significant influences in the Agile world like Atlassian (the brains behind Trello), Scrum.org and the Scrum Alliance.
Sponsors like Scrum.org and the Scrum alliance are responsible for improving businesses' agility worldwide (they’ve even helped our team members become Scrum Certified professionals), offering a recognised place to take an official certification.
This year marks 20 years since the Agile Manifesto started (and enthusiasm for this software development shows no sign of stopping).
Of marketers, 51% report using Agile to manage their work (The State of Agile Marketing 2021).
In software development, the Agile adoption rate is much higher. A survey conducted by HP interviewed 601 development professionals. It concluded that two-thirds of respondents described themselves as “pure agile” or “leaning towards agile” (TechBeacon)
What about organisations that are known to favour the Waterfall approach? The question has been lingering for a while, ‘Is It Time for an Agile Revolution in Financial Services?’ (FinExtra.com)
Leading app-based challenger banks, like Starling, are already implementing Agile by treating ‘software as something that’s never finished and needs to constantly evolve’ (Intellias). And it’s not just their software development practices that appear forward-thinking; we’ve highlighted Starling in a previous post as a company that has responded to recent shifts in consumer behaviour with their digital services and website features.
So with over half of marketers, two-thirds of software developers and a forward-thinking segment of the financial services industry adopting Agile, it’s safe to say that this digital transformation “buzzword” is here for the long run.
The 2010s - Year of the blackberry.
By the millennium, there were no stopping things. The team at Cogworks were not yet aware of their Cog-destiny, having either a) not long been born or b) partying at a university somewhere.
Mobile Web Design for Dummies, 2010 sums up the tech needed to design for mobile devices in the late 2000s, suggesting the design of “sophisticated phones” (like the blackberry Bold 9700) should be completed with a combination of the mark-up language XHTML (a cross between HTML and XML languages) and CSS.
New technology (like the iPhone) has, amongst other factors, influenced the exit and arrival of many of the programming languages we know today.
In 2010 Blackberry went from having the largest market share in the US smartphone market to an estimated 0.01 today (Statista). Shortly after Blackberry’s market share demise, XHTML usage plummeted from 65% in 2010 to just 7% in 2021.
(A similar trend can be seen on BuiltWith)
But what does the death of the Blackberry tell us about Digital Transformation?
Like smartphones, development languages come and go. Our job as developers, designers and strategists is to spot trends and understand a range of programming languages, frameworks and tools.
Digital Transformation 2022 and beyond.
If there's anything we've learnt from 2021, we must be resilient. The global pandemic prompted many businesses to react quickly, testing the agility of their digital solutions.
Those working with rigid, closed proprietary systems, once widely considered a business advantage, have had to move toward a more composable architecture to prepare for possible dramatic shifts in consumer attitudes. Enterprises are now moving toward MACH architecture trends to compete in a multichannel marketplace.
Keeping up with Digital Transformation.
For 2023, leaders are finding more agile and efficient ways of doing things, specifically with automation and a greater focus on architectural principles.
You can read more about the latest architecture trends in a recent post, Mach Architecture. Buzzwords, Trends and Benefits.