Digital Transformation is hot, no question about that. Every company knows they need a digital strategy. Every competitor is seeking a digital edge. Hundreds, no thousands of companies are out there right now, ready and willing to help you find your digital way. Talent is twice, no ten times more marketable when RPA or AI appears somewhere on the resume. And so we will all march off to become digitally transformed. What that means depends on who you ask.
Ask a room full of leaders from across many industries, both consumers and providers of digital services, and you will get a very wide range of answers, as I did when I posed that very question at an automation conference last week. But there was a common thread in their responses, suggesting a limit to what digital transformation is for - efficiency. Many see digital as just as the newest version of business transformation, supplanting shared services, offshoring, and outsourcing as ways to make work more efficient. Bots, placing their digital "hands" on virtual keyboards will take on all those manual, repetitive office tasks, enabling the elimination of associated costs. Contributing to this perception is the messaging of many Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) companies, positioning their new digital offers as shiny new hammers for the same old cost takeout nails. While there is no question the new digital toolkit can dramatically reduce the cost of human labor associated with business processes, to believe that is mostly what it is for is to largely miss the point.