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It seems impossible to escape the articles on Digital Business Transformation. Sales/Marketing Automation Tools suppliers are jumping all over it, because it helps them sell more tools. Pundits focus on how marketing and sales must leverage these tools to engage customers. To some degree, I think much of the discussion is this year’s version of social selling, since that term has fallen into disfavor.

More broadly, the articles seem to focus on IT transformations and technologies like AI, Machine Learning, Robotics, IoT, etc. It’s a brave new technology driven world.

All of these discussions are important, but I think they miss the critical issues, and possibly the critical opportunities.

It’s really not about technology!

Digital Business Transformation is this century’s Industrial Revolution. It changes not only the way businesses work (note I said business, not sales/marketing), but it changes everything in the world we live in. How we engage and act with each other, how societies/cultures engage, how our communities and governments work, as well as how our businesses work.

If we could go back to the prior industrial revolution driven by things like “electrification,” “telephones,” etc in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we’d probably find innumerable blog posts and tweets about what it means for sales and marketing (OK, maybe newspaper articles and bar conversations). But the profound issues were how the industrial revolution changed everything.

As we look at Digital Business Transformation, there are huge opportunities and challenges for sales and marketing, just a few:

  1. It changes our own businesses and how we work, within our companies, as well as how we work with our customers.
  2. It changes the solutions we might offer our customers. If our companies aren’t looking at what digital business transformation means to out solutions offerings, they are in this century’s equivalent of the “buggy whip business,” and you should look for job in an organization that recognizes the business opportunity. All our products and services have to play a role in the digital transformation of the world.
  3. Our customers are challenged with their own digital business transformation—it present us great opportunities to help them understand and address the issues to them. (Remember, the challenges are less the technologies, but what it means to them, their jobs. It requires re-engineer their businesses and how they engage their customers.)

We are only at the very early stages of Digital Business Transformation, we won’t begin to understand the full potential or impact years, if not decades.

But if we are to exploit the full promise of Digital Business Transformation, we have to look beyond the technology and beyond what the technology does for sales and marketing.