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Blog Post

November 25, 2016

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Digital strategy vs digital transformation

By John Desborough

How much appetite for going digital do you have? Are you looking at a digital strategy or a digital transformation? The two terms are often misused, in part by being used interchangeably when they are in fact two very different things.

A digital strategy is a strategy focused on utilizing digital technologies to better serve one particular group of people (customers, employees, partners, suppliers, etc.) or to serve the needs of one particular business group (HR, Finance, Marketing, Operations, etc.).

Meanwhile, a digital transformation is an intensive process that begins by effectively building an entirely new organization from the ground up, using the latest digital technologies (predictive analytics, Business Process Management, crowd computing, AI, etc.), the latest tools - sensors, robotics etc., and the latest best practices and emerging "next practices" to develop a plan for making the transformation from the "old way" of running the business to the new, digital way.

It's not all about digital startups like Uber and how to be a 'digital native. Most organizations need to be looking at what established technology companies like Amazon are doing because established technology companies are looking for growth and new markets too and are adopting strategies to become more digital as they transform.

If you don't have the luxury to undergo a complete digital transformation from the get-go, start with a digital strategy to pick one of your 'business interfaces" - company and customer, company to employee, company to partner, etc. - and optimize the experience at that interface. Look at that interface with a fresh modern perspective and utilize all of the latest/emerging approaches and technologies to create a more efficient and effective experience. Removing the friction at the interface is critical to success. Once you knock off one interface, on to the next.

Be prepared for some turbulence: a digital strategy and a digital transformation will both inflict change (in varying amounts) upon the organization and you will have to be prepared, in advance, to deal with it.



Paul Witherow is a partner in MNP’s Consulting and Technology Solutions practice with a specialization in customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, document and records management, web experience and portals, data integration, business intelligence and analytics solution implementation. He has served clients in the financial services, health care, pharmaceuticals, distribution & manufacturing, retail, energy & utilities industries and at all levels of government. Paul has a proven track record of delivering results while building client organizational capacity. He is skilled in using information technology as a strategic change lever. Drop Paul a line to discuss this topic in more detail: [email protected]


John Desborough is a Director, Consulting and Technology Solutions at MNP. He is an accomplished business solutions program manager and business transformation architect with 30+ years in the information and technology consulting domain. John has extensive background in information management and governance with both public and private sector clients on a global scale. Drop John a line to discuss this topic in more detail: [email protected]