You can’t look at anything in sales, marketing, even business without encountering the discussions of Digital Transformation. What’s interesting is where people put the emphasis.

Often, particularly with vendors, the emphasis is on the DIGITAL, that is the technology. Technology is enabling us to do things we have never been able to do. It’s just not making us more efficient or increasing the volume/velocity of what we do. It can help us discover things that we might never have seen before, or would have taken years to understand. It enables us to make decisions, change, do new things that drive higher levels of performance, or provide new services or capabilities to our customers and/or our people.

But it’s not just the digital capability, the technology, that creates the transformation, or that magically drives change. It’s people taking driven by a vision or a purpose or a set of goals that enable us to leverage the technology to drive change, produce new services, to do things we might have imagined, but didn’t have the ability to do so, without the technology.

While the technology may enable the transformation, it’s the people creating the vision, managing the risks, and having the courage to put in place and execute the plan. to learn and adjust, to fail and rethink to correct the failure. It’s people imagining how to apply the technology that enables the transformation. Without that the the Digital part of transformation is meaningless.

Yet, too often, too many organizations think it’s about the technology. They believe that because they have a certain technology in place, by itself they have “transformed.” They haven’t done the creative work to look at how to best apply it, they haven’t taken the risk to implement, get their teeth kicked in, learn and adjust.

The opposite is also true. To be honest, I have been biased to the Transformation side of Digital Transformation. I’ve always been biased to the purpose, vision, values, strategies, processes, execution, and leadership that create and drive transformation. I’ve always been a technologist, but thought of technology as enabling much of transformation.

But I’ve realized I’ve misunderstood it, at least with current technologies. (here I may be wordsmithing). But today, technology is not just an enabler of ideas, strategies, products, services that we have developed. It causes us to rethink and reimagine that which we might never have thought about or imagined in the past. It’s beyond leveraging technology to help us transform, but it’s the technology that drives the transformation.

Digital transformation is the driver of the next fundamental industrial/social revolution. It is not digital, neither is it transformation. But together, iterating between the two, we can achieve things we might never have imagined.