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Digitally enable the businesses - don't just digitally transform

Let's look at the brand new dirty phrase at the moment - digital transformation.

Happy New Year all! Financial year that is. For some people I work with there is more excitement over the financial year coming to an end than the firework spectacular we see when the clock hits zero on the 31st of December each year.

As we take a breath to get over the last financial year, I wanted to steal some of that free brain space and look at a topic which is branded as a dirty word at the moment.... Digital Transformation! Please keep reading, I promise it will be worth it.

Ok, if I still have you then Digital Transformation or DX for short (no sure how that works) has been front of mind for a lot of companies. Some have even gone as far as creating a specific role, the DXO (Digital Transformation Officer) to look after it.

I have seen lots of people talk about the DX topic with stats, pie charts and $$$ signs but not many that use language and examples that an everyday Joe like me can understand. So this everyday Joe is going to give it a crack.

Let's start off with putting a myth to bed that for your company to go through a digital transformation it does not need to become a new cloud based, elastic scaling never failing, high performance analytical powerhouse. Or the other one I hear a lot is let's Uberfy our company!

Staying completely away from statistics and bar charts I will give you two examples of DX which are far from re-inventing the wheel. One is my employer Telstra and the second is an airline I am often a customer of.

Firstly, when I joined Telstra just over five years ago, I had to be tethered to my laptop to do my job. Wherever I went it went, there was no other way for me to interact with the business. If I had no laptop I might as well go home.

Since then someone from senior management thought we need to stop Travis from breaking his laptop to get time off work and create a way he can work on any device, even his own personal ones. Fast forward to today and I can now use my phone, laptop and tablet to do my work, no more excuses (please help me find one...)!

My email is using a secure work application which is device agnostic. My collaborative work documents are stored on Box in the cloud for any relevant person from Telstra and our partners to share and edit. My travel expenses can now be coded and expensed the moment I swipe my credit card (Literally, no joke, that was an exciting day for me) and lastly my conference calls are now video calls where people can dial in on any device they want, desk phone, laptop, mobile or tablet. You can even switch between them without any interruption to the call. This is digital transformation in action.

As a customer, I've noticed (while spending too much time on a plane) the rapid change in the way I interact with the airline. Less than two years ago I would be standing in line or typing in information onto a screen at the airport to get a paper ticket then hoping there was a decent seat left on the plane. Now with an app on my phone I can book flights, check-in, change my seat, get boarding status, check gate number, view my status credit all in real time. Amazing!

Even the way I consume their inflight entertainment has changed. I am now able to open an app on my phone to stream entertainment on my own device using on-board Wi-Fi. Again these are the tangible examples of how digital technology is changing life for consumers and businesses.

Both these examples are not inventing the hover board (oh, that would be a sweet job) and they didn't happen overnight. But each example was simply looking at how their consumers whether it's internal or external could interact with the existing business.

Sometimes before you go out and invent a new growth business look at the way consumers interact with your current one. You might find adding an app or even making your website more device agnostic will go a long way to driving new sales or making your current workforce more efficient. Maybe instead of calling it digital transformation we should call is digital enabelisation (someone put that on Wikipedia as a new word).

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