An Introduction Digital Transformation

Modern information and communication technologies, and indeed all other fields involving technology, are advancing at a rapid rate, comparable to the industrial revolutions of the past, which were centered around the introduction of steam power, electricity, machine automation, and so on. Accordingly, the present era of technological advancement has been dubbed as ‘the fourth industrial revolution’. Continuous and informed change is at the heart of this revolution, as it was for those of the past, and so it is essential for a business to adapt and keep up with these changes in order to avoid being left behind.

            Digital transformation is, simply put, the process of restructuring a business in order to equip it with digital tools and skills that will ‘radically improve performance or reach of enterprises’ (Westerman, 2014). Done correctly, digital transformation will allow a business to compete effectively with other modernized firms, whilst simultaneously increasing the efficiency and profitability of business operations. Survival in the current business climate necessitates technological innovation, technology-related knowledge and skills, and development in management capabilities (Sharma et. Al, 2021). Digital transformation enables the acquisition of these traits and lays out a foundation of technological familiarity that will allow businesses to update their digital practices as needed.

            The process of digital transformation is heavily linked to the two concepts of digitization and digitalization. Despite their similar names, these are two very different processes:

  • Digitization is the process of converting traditional formats of storing information to digital media, like converting written documents into digital files. Digitization enables businesses to save money, increase efficiency, and ensure the security and longevity of stored information.
  • Digitalization is the process of introducing technology into areas of a business in order to streamline processes like customer relationship management, inventory management, employee onboarding, and so on. As with digitization, this results in more efficient operations.

Digital transformation incorporates both of these processes and expands upon them by applying them at a business-wide level. The end result is an ‘agile, innovative, customer-centric [and] people-orientated’ company that is future-proofed, capable of avoiding the obsolescence that comes about when a business neglects their technological abilities (Gobble, 2018).

As of today, a large number of businesses have yet to fully engage with digital transformation and are therefore at risk of falling behind their competitors. Failing to innovate and stay on top of digital practices is not sustainable for a modern business; even in smaller industries, those who have traditionally dominated a market will eventually fail if they refuse to adapt to the ever-changing technological sphere. The exponential nature of technological research and growth makes it certain that in the future, additional, more sophisticated technology will be available to aid businesses; those who have yet to adapt to previously discovered innovations will almost certainly be unable to transition to even newer ones.

It is important to note that the urgency of implementing digital transformation does not merit a haphazard approach, as the process can be beset with various challenges (Heavin & Power, 2018). A measured and informed strategy should be employed in order to overcome these obstacles, which include tunnel vision that hinders other areas of business, unreliable data that hinders operations, and workplace cultures that are inconducive to change. There is a significant knowledge gap in many industries regarding new processes that incorporate technology into a business: the 2020 World Economic Forum highlighted that 70% of employees were offered to reskill & upskill opportunities, yet only 42% of employees are taking up the offer (WEF, 2020). Education and up-to-date knowledge should be at the heart of any attempt to digitally transform a business.

Digital transformation is not an easy process, but it represents a significant opportunity for both small and larger enterprises that are often overlooked – a 2022 report revealed that a mere “10% [of Irish Businesses] are considered “optimized” or “strategic on their digital transformation journey” (Actionpoint, 2022). For the other 90%, an investment into digital transformation will enable them to meet and surpass the ever-shifting challenges of the business landscape and avoid becoming obsolete.


  • ActionPoint, 2022. [Online] [Accessed 30 October 2022].
  • Gobble, M. A., 2018. Digital strategy and digital transformation. Research technology management, pp. 66-71.
  • Heavin, C. & Power, D., 2018. Challenges for digital transformation – towards a conceptual decision support guide for managers. Journal of decision systems, Volume 27, pp. 38-45.
  • WEF, 2020. The Future of Jobs Report. [Online] Available at:
  • Westerman, G. B. D. &. M. A., 2014. MIT Sloan Management Review. [Online] Available at:

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