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Insights / Blog / Business

Why the term “Digital Transformation” is wrong

June 25, 2015
Alain VeuveAlain VeuveManaging Director, AOE Switzerland

During the past two years “Digital Transformation” has become the absolute buzzword. Agencies, Consultants and other service providers boldly state that they have done nothing else “in the past ten years.” Bit by bit they have changed wording on websites and in other channels. Today, everyone is transforming something.

This is basically a good thing as it moves the focus from isolated solutions to a more strategic process. However, the term itself is misleading – in both of its components, that is “Digital” and “Transformation.” Alain Veuve explains why in his article on

Not just “Transformation”

Most decision-makers have come to realize that the transition of society into the digital age also impacts the business world, thus requiring action. The word “Transformation” implies a beginning and an end. And this is exactly the context in which “Digital Transformation” is viewed. Business leaders realize that they are in arrears, then transform their business, make it ready for the digital age and consider the work done.

Reality is different. Technological progress is exponentially accelerating. We are quick to adopt those technologies that help us or make our lives easier. Digital transformation is but one element in this equation – and it marks the beginning of an era, not its end. The result is that the economy must be fundamentally rebuilt and participants in the economic game must play by a completely different set of rules.

Not just “Digital”

“Digital” implies that changes in the society and the economy are driven solely by information technology. However, industries other than IT have also experienced significant changes in the recent past. And, since technologies are combined in products more and more often, these changes can often be considerably more extensive than in IT alone. Veuve cites Healthcare as an example, and cautions businesses to not just bet on digitalization. Those that do will be as surprised as they were five years ago when digital transformation took off.

Buzzwords are silly, but serve a purpose

The term “Digital Transformation” helped us realize that there are technological challenges that need to be met. Which means this buzzword has done its duty and can be replaced with a clean conscience. This is even more imperative as the term itself, as stated above, is misleading.

A new buzzword is needed

My proposal for a new terminology is Perpetual Disruption. The term implies that change is constant and that change has significant consequences. This is exactly what businesses will be confronted with on a daily basis in the future.