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Digital Transformation. Is it hype or real?


The act of transforming changes your company’s “guts” or corporate fabric by improving what you do and how you do it. Improving is a series of strategic objectives leading you to business excellence.

Transform or Improve? Which is more important?

(1) Digital Transformation is a large-scale program that provides significant change throughout the business. Usually involves a new business model and digital automation to rebuild a connected business.

(2) Improving your business is about repairing, enhancing, optimizing, and replacing what you do and how you do it. You transform through a series of steps to rejuvenate the business. Digital methods are used to automate and connect the business.

Both are important and both have the same end goal, which is to focus on improving business excellence with a digital and consumer mindset. It is a soul-searching journey and you start by understanding your consumers, employees, operations, products, capabilities, and how they interact and communicate.

Unless you are changing the business model, improving what you have may be the better path for you to achieve your objectives faster and with less cost. So, rejuvenate. Done properly, you transform over time.

So, let’s demystify the buzzwordsDigital Transformation


The result of managed changes in (1) the business, (2) the way the business works, (3) its employees, and (4) its interactions with consumers.


The use of digital methods and a consumer mindset to optimize, connect, interact, improve, and innovate to maximize your growth potential.

Don’t get hung up on the buzzwords… this is about growing your business by improving it. The journey that uses digital methods and a consumer mindset.

The approach must be a well-thought-out roadmap to maximize your investment. Prioritize what brings value. Everything you do should focus on improving the business supported by the value the change brings or don’t do it.

Bob’s Tugboat Analogy

Think of my small, aging tugboat.

What does a tugboat do? It pushes and pulls large floating objects, such as boats and barges. The boat’s revenue supports my family and it is essential to my business.

I love my tugboat, but something has to be done because problems are impacting my business. Here is a quick assessment and the realized impact of the problems.

  • It leaks and that affects reliability. I have to spend time fixing instead of working on jobs.
  • The boat is slow. I do only a few jobs in a day.
  • It cannot push bigger boats. This limits me to smaller less profitable jobs.
  • It has limited capacity for hauling so all I can do is push smaller boats for less profit.
  • With a small gas tank, I have limited range, so I have to come back often for fuel and that wastes time.
  • Manual client scheduling makes mistakes. The crew is not coordinated with client demands that result in missed opportunities and poor experiences.
  • There is more opportunity for new jobs and additional services.

What are my options and what do I get from them?

  • Replace engine
    • Greater Speed for more jobs
    • Greater power for larger jobs
  • Fix leaks
    • Sinking is a bad choice
    • More uptime for jobs
  • Maintain engine
    • Increase reliability for more uptime and more jobs
  • Buy a tow barge
    • New capacity to haul which increases offered services
  • Add fuel capacity
    • Greater service offerings for new and bigger jobs
  • Replace boat
    • A new model to offer profitable services to a wider consumer base if critical disruption is imminent or additional growth is required
  • Automate business processes
    • Increase efficiency to optimize the use of crew and boat uptime for more profit

What are your top priorities to determine the order of objectives?

These are your strategic choices. First, I have to tell you the Goal: Grow the business and stay in business.

  • Must be reliable and in service
  • Invest in new process automation to coordinate resources and client scheduling – streamline business operations to support new services
  • Extend offerings by providing services for larger boats and hauling
  • Does it make sense to change the business model?

So, what can you do to improve the boat over time to meet your top objectives?

This part is strategic planning and tactical. Evaluate the situation and improve what you have.

Start to fix the basics to maintain business integrity allowing the funding for the small repairs. Increase business efficiency to increase profits that will fund the larger objectives. Add new service offerings to attract new revenue sources enabling the business to grow.

  • Objective 1
    • Fix leaks and maintain the engine. A small investment. The investment is supported by business uptime for new jobs.
  • Objective 2
    • Automate business processes for efficiency. A medium investment supported by the new jobs and brand reinforcement to attract new business (reliable and good experiences}.
  • Objective 3
    • Larger engine to support new services. A large investment is supported by new service offerings and more revenue.
    • New tug barge for new hauling services. A large investment is supported by new service offerings and revenue.
  • Objective 4
    • Forget the yacht idea. Not a solid investment and the tugboat business is booming, You don’t have to change your business model unless you want a luxury yacht or the tugboat business was disrupted.

Now you are ready to grow your business. Where do you want to take it?


Does this sound familiar to your business? The process of problem resolution is similar to improving your business. Transform or improve, it’s up to you.

Which of the following has the highest priority for you?

Some example workshops on best practices to give you ideas on improving your business.

  • Digital strategy (direction, what to do and why)
  • Creating and nurturing a digital mindset (adoption)
  • Building a Digital COE (governance and innovation hub)
  • Digital methods, application road mapping (techniques for low code)
  • Experience generation and mapping (consistent, connected, friction-free)
  • Consumer engagement (digital methods, decision-making, and behaviors)
  • Consumer behaviors (targeted interactions and programs)

Start with what is critical. Things that slow you from making decisions, getting new sales, implementing programs, engaging consumers, making a profit, and growing.

Transform or improve?

Be thoughtful. It is not a speed race or a giant leap to the end. This is a race won by patience. Having patience will save you frustration and budget.

The end? There isn’t one. You should always be “transforming” and improving. Digital methods continue to evolve and so does the consumer. So, your digital journey or improvement never ends.


Most companies cannot afford the cost or time to implement a full-scale digital (business) transformation. If you identify what is really important to the business and focus on those things, you begin the transformation journey. Repair, improve, replace or enhance? I call it rejuvenating. Not a buzzword either … it is a way to identify your strengths and amplify them while fixing internal business and tech problems. Improve across organizational boundaries if you want more impact.

What brings the most impact for the investment? Try an assessment workshop to help you start.

Rejuvenating your business delivers an agile, connected, customer-centric, optimized business that seizes opportunities and delivers value to customers this is operating with digital excellence and interacting with great experiences. This is your objective. Your goal? That is up to you.


Build a connected, flexible business model demonstrating who you are, what you are offering, and how you are doing it. This is a major shift in your business direction often used to fend off disruption and maintain your competitive position. Transforming through a series of steps instead of a massive change is easier to manage for employees, processes, systems, and consumers. Take a look at my thoughts on business excellence on the next page.

Transform or improve? It is your continuous journey to reach your goals.