What ‘digital transformation’ really should mean

Unlike most buzz phrases, “digital transformation” keeps gaining popularity through the years. This is mainly because from the very beginning, it has invited whatever meaning marketers wanted to slather onto it. Today, digital transformation seems to mean that together cloud and social and mobile and big data and AI and IoT and devops (plus whatever other else you want to throw in) yield a tipping point where businesses discover new revenue opportunities and become qualitatively more efficient. Or something like that.

Sure, today’s explosion in enterprise tech is unprecedented, but the promise of transformation almost always disappoints. Part of the reason is that there can be no static endpoint — by the time you assemble perfection, it’s obsolete. The other difficulty is that the same old problems that have persisted through many generations of technology continue to hold us back.

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