Glossary Index

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Glossary Index

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Glossary Index

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Glossary term

Digital transformation

Quick definition

Digital transformation means reorienting your organization to operate effectively in a digital economy.

Key takeaways


●     Successful digital transformation helps an organization operate more effectively and deliver better customer experiences.

●     Digital transformation efforts should be prioritized on an ongoing basis as you develop your business strategy.

●     Digital transformation involves making changes in three main areas: people, processes, and technology.

●     The most important elements of a digital transformation strategy are using the right tools and maintaining clear communication across your organization.

Giselle Abramovich is an editor and storyteller with over 15 years of experience in digital marketing, media, and commerce. As the executive editor of corporate messaging and storytelling at Adobe, she focuses on all things digital and the effects of technology on people and brands.

Q: What is digital transformation?

A: Digital transformation means reorienting your organization to operate effectively in a digital economy and integrating new technologies into all areas of your business. Successful digital transformation helps an organization deliver better customer experiences. As digital technologies continue to evolve and develop, your business needs to evolve as well. Digital transformation efforts should be prioritized on an ongoing basis as you develop your overall business strategy.

Q: Why is digital transformation important?

A: Consumers do almost everything online. They manage their finances, make purchases, and communicate all through digital technology. Digital transformation is about meeting your customers where they are and delivering the best user experience possible.

Internally, digital transformation can elevate your organization as you implement new workflows and digital innovations. Digital disruption can be the catalyst for getting more value from your people and your production processes.

Q: How has the approach to digital transformation changed?

A: At the start of the digital age, digital transformation efforts were just about getting your business online. Not many businesses had a clear digital transformation strategy. As organizations became more digitally mature, digital transformation became more about reorienting the entire company — people, processes, and technology — to serve the customer. Businesses weren’t just trying to get online and spam potential customers. Instead, businesses wanted to understand what people were doing online and why.

In all areas of digital transformation, marketers should be thoughtful about how they respond to customers and what kinds of experiences they deliver in the different stages of the customer journey.

Q: What are some digital transformation strategies?

A: First, you want to make sure that you’re hiring talent with the right skill sets, who know how to collect and act on data insights and are familiar with digital business. You can also retrain the members of your current team, if needed. Provide training and education opportunities in regularly scheduled installments — and in real time — as new products and situations arise.

Next, look at your technology. Before digital transformation initiatives gained traction, many businesses resorted to buying new versions of legacy technology. Today, mature companies are replatforming. They select a single digital platform vendor and apply that tech across their organization. Digital tools such as customer data platforms (CDP) are a must for providing essential elements of the user experience like personalization at scale across the customer journey.

With the right technology in place, you can look more deeply at your processes. Seize upon workflows that encourage automation and digitalization.

Q: Which businesses need digital transformation?

A: Every business needs some element of digital transformation. From small startups to massive healthcare organizations, from ecommerce retailers to the supply chain — everyone benefits from a successful digital transformation.

Q: What tools can I use for digital transformation?

A: Adobe Experience Manager is helpful for launching and modernizing websites and managing digital assets. Adobe Analytics allows you to measure the effectiveness of your user experience strategies. Adobe Campaign helps marketers interpret data to understand what customers are doing and deliver personalization at scale. Adobe Experience Platform acts as a CDP where marketers can build customer profiles and see how individual customers are interacting with touchpoints across platforms. 

Q: What are some common challenges with digital transformation?

A: The most important element of a digital transformation strategy is clear communication across your organization. Every sector of your business needs to understand what digital transformation means for the entire company, individual business units, specific teams, and each employee. Every person needs to work toward the same goal. Miscommunication or lack of buy-in between teams can derail efforts.

For some companies, financial investment in digital technologies can be a challenge. Fortunately, digital transformation is a business strategy that all but guarantees a strong return on investment.

Specific industries — the financial sector, for example — may also have specific regulations that need to be considered as they roll out new business models and digital tools.

Q: What are the benefits of digital transformation?

A: When an organization invests in digital transformation, customers have much more relevant and personalized user experiences. Employees are more efficient and creative, as automation relieves them of the more manual parts of marketing. And when businesses move workflows from paper to digital files, they are more sustainable.

Q: How will digital transformation evolve in the future?

A: Mature organizations that have automation, digital technologies, and data analytics in place will be able to focus more on digital citizenship: the responsible use of digital technology. Ethical imperatives like privacy, security, sustainability, and digital accessibility will be top of mind. With exceptional user experiences as the standard, customers will care more about supporting companies that share their values, so organizations will invest in digital innovations that help them maintain their customers’ trust.

Adobe can help

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