Digital Transformation first defined itself to me at a Compaq conference shortly after they purchased Digital Equipment Corporation and started more aggressive moves into the enterprise environment. They called it "Zero Latency Enterprise", where all processes and functions, including human interaction inside the enterprise, expanding out to satellite locations, and with end customers, was completely digital, redundant, and centrally available. The concept was that if a customer expressed interest in an item (via online, or at the time interactive kiosk or other physical terminal, or the early customer scanning devices folks thought might catch on), that information was immediately digested and made available to every level of the enterprise 'business intelligence' and CRM datastores; enough customers expressing said interest might trigger automatic inventory changes, as well as alerting about possible trends or fads, alerting store managers to 'feature' items on end-caps, or the ads department to make sure those items were in next weeks commercials or newspaper ads. They used Disneyland as an example (and Disneyland has made a lot of changes that reflect ZLE, whether or not that came from Compaq). The ride reservations, timers to go places so you didn't have to stand in line, forecasting things you might want because you bought particular tickets/entry tokens/whatever, to keep all the customers as happy as possible while minimizing costs of walkouts, improving sales (we have time to hit the food stand instead of waiting in line), etc. ZLE talked about magnetic stripe card or a portable PDA type device at the customer level, obviously no longer needed with current tech. It was all quite interesting, though the complexity of what they were envisioning may be part of why Compaq got eaten by HP not long after and ZLE disappeared into the bit bucket (a digital transformation of a trash can...). So Digital Transformation, from this early ZLE concept to current, is about gathering as much data as possible about every aspect of the business environment and the people in it, and the people they work with, sell to, buy from, deal with, and optionally _might_ do any of those with in the future, as close to real time as possible, analyzing it, collating it, making it available to as many relevant people, processes, and systems as possible in coherent and usable form as close to real time as possible, so that it can be used to best prepare and position the business/organization to prosper. Digital Transformation has also meant that many businesses are forced to change their methods and processes to work the way whatever package they purchase wants them to work. It doesn't matter if your business has refined its procedures and methods for decades; if you go with a pre-package you must change a lot in order to squeeze into that new mold, otherwise you have to have the large IT departments of the past with considerable development staff and support costs... but then keep your long learned/earned methods. The latter doesn't seem to get counted as "Digital Transformation" in current parlance; if you don't standardize on an 'industry standard' package or giant well known BI/CRM/etc service, then you're still stuck in the past.
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