Digital transformation

From HandWiki

Digital Transformation (DT or DX[1]) is the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems. It is about transforming processes that were non digital or manual to digital processes.

One of the examples of digital transformation is cloud computing. It reduces reliance on user owned hardware and increases reliance on subscription based cloud services. Some of these digital solutions enhance capabilities of traditional software products (e.g. Microsoft Office compared to Office 365) whilst others are entirely cloud based (e.g. Google Docs).

As the companies providing the services are guaranteed of regular (usually monthly) recurring revenue from subscriptions, they are able to finance ongoing development with reduced risk (historically most software companies derived the majority of their revenue from users upgrading, and had to invest upfront in developing sufficient new features and benefits to encourage users to upgrade), and delivering more frequent updates often using forms of agile software development internally.[2] This subscription model also reduces software piracy, which is a major benefit to the vendor.[3]

Some of these digital solutions enable - in addition to efficiency via automation - new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.[4]

One aspect of digital transformation is the concept of 'going paperless' or reaching a 'digital business maturity'[5] affecting both individual businesses[6][page needed] and whole segments of society, such as government,[7] mass communications,[8][page needed] art,[9] medicine,[10] and science.[11]

Digital transformation is already underway, but is not proceeding at the same pace everywhere. According to the McKinsey Global Institute's 2016 Industry Digitization Index,[12] Europe is currently operating at 12% of its digital potential, while the United States is operating at 18%. Within Europe, Germany operates at 10% of its digital potential, while the United Kingdom is almost on par with the United States at 17%.

Historic development


Main page: Binary number

In 1703 Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz explained and envisioned the concept that would be known as "digitalization" in his publication Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire.[13] Initially developed as a base-2 numerical system, using only two values, 0 and 1, the system was further developed and complemented by scholars such as George Boole (1854),[14] Claude Shannon (1938)[15] and George Stibitz during the 1940s.[16]


Main pages: Engineering:Transistor, Engineering:History of the transistor, and Engineering:MOSFET

The first practical transistor was the point-contact transistor, invented by the engineers William Shockley, Walter Houser Brattain and John Bardeen in 1947.[17] Shockley's research team later invented the bipolar junction transistor in 1948.[18][19]

The MOSFET (metal-oxide-silicon field-effect transistor), also known as the MOS transistor, was invented by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng in 1959.[20][21][18][22] With its high scalability,[23] and much lower power consumption and higher density than bipolar junction transistors,[24] the MOSFET made it possible to build high-density integrated circuit (ICs),[18] allowing the integration of more than 10,000 transistors in a single IC,[25] and later millions and then billions of transistors in a single device.[26]

The widespread adoption of MOS transistors revolutionized the electronics industry.[27][28] As of 2013, billions of MOS transistors are manufactured every day.[18] The MOS transistor has been the fundamental building block of digital electronics since the late 20th century, paving the way for the digital age.[22] The MOS transistor is credited with transforming society around the world,[26][22] and is the building block of every microprocessor, memory chip and telecommunication circuit in use as of 2016.[29]

Early digital computers

Today, Stibitz is considered one of many pioneers of the digital computer, through the development of the first electromechanical computer from his discovery of the automatic computing relays as well as the term 'digital'. The first electronic computer was introduced by John Atanasoff in 1939. The process of digitalization thereafter accelerated, with the development of personal computers such as the Simon in 1950, Apple II in 1977 and IBM PC in 1981.[citation needed]

Accelerated change

With the introduction of the World Wide Web, the scope, dimension, scale, speed as well as effects of digitalization fundamentally changed, resulting in the increased pressure on the societal transformation process.[30]

Companies including Dell were quick to take advantage of the World Wide Web around 1996–1997, disrupting traditional PC manufacturing companies like IBM by selling direct to consumers rather than through dealer networks or hobby shops, and gaining valuable insights into consumer behaviour as they navigated the website.

In 2000, digitalization began to be used more widely as a concept and argument for an overall governmental introduction of IT, increased usage of internet and IT on all levels. A similar development began in the general business climate in order to raise awareness regarding the issue and opportunity. In the EU for instance, an initiative called the Digital Single Market was developed, with recommendations for national digital agendas in the EU, which gradually and positively should contribute to the future societal transformation, with more modern development of communities, structures and to create a basis for e-governance and information society.


The debate surrounding digitalization has therefore gained increased practical importance for politics, business and social issues, and is linked to political work issues for community development, new changes in the practical business approaches, effective opportunities for organizations in operational and business process development, with effect on internal and external efficiency of IT to name a few. The digital transformation is slated to generate over $370 billion in global value during the next four years.[31]


Digitization (of information)

In political, business, trade, industry and media discourses, digitization is defined as the 'technical process' of "converting analog information into digital form" (i.e. numeric, binary format, as zeros and ones). In electrical engineering, the older term digitalization still occurs in this sense, which is the original meaning of that term. Most often an electrical device called an analog-to-digital converter is utilized, for example in scanning of images, or in sampling of sounds (e.g. music sampling) and of measurement data. The term may also refer to manual information digitization, for example of illustrations using a digitizer tablet. Digitizing is technically explained as the representation of signals, images, sounds and objects by generating a series of numbers, expressed as a discrete value, and represented by binary numbers.[30] For example, digitization was introduced in telecommunication networks from the 1970s, in view to improve the phone call sound quality, response time, network capacity, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

Digitalization (of industries and organizations)

Unlike digitization, digitalization is the 'organizational process' or 'business process' of the technologically-induced change within industries,[30] organizations, markets and branches. Digitalization of manufacturing industries has enabled new production processes and much of the phenomena today known as the Internet of Things, Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0, machine to machine communication, artificial intelligence and machine vision. Digitalization of business and organizations has induced new business models (such as freemium), new eGovernment services, electronic payment, office automation and paperless office processes, using technologies such as smart phones, web applications, cloud services, electronic identification, blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies, and also business intelligence using Big Data. Digitalization of education has induced e-learning and Mooc courses.

The academic discussion surrounding digitalization has been described as problematic as no clear definition of the phenomena has been previously developed.[32] A common misconception is that digitalization essentially means the usage of more IT, in order to enable and take advantage of digital technology and data. This early definition however, has largely been replaced by the above definition, now linked to holistic views on business and social change, horizontal organizational and business development, as well as IT.

Digital transformation (of societies)

Finally, digital transformation is described as "the total and overall societal effect of digitalization".[30] Digitization has enabled the process of digitalization, which resulted in opportunities to transform and change existing business models, consumption patterns, socio-economic structures, legal and policy measures, organizational patterns, cultural barriers, etc.[33]

Digitization (the technical conversion), digitalization (the business process) and the digital transformation (the effect) therefore accelerate and illuminate the already existing and ongoing horizontal[clarification needed] and global processes of change in society.[30]

Opportunities and challenges

Digital transformation is a major challenge and opportunity.[5] When planning for digital transformation, organizations must factor the cultural changes they'll confront as workers and organizational leaders adjust to adopting and relying on unfamiliar technologies.[34] Digital transformation has created unique marketplace challenges and opportunities,[35] as organizations must contend with nimble competitors who take advantage of the low barrier to entry that technology provides.[36] Additionally, due to the high importance given today to technology and the widespread use of it, the implications of digitization for revenues, profits and opportunities have a dramatic upside potential.[37] We can understand digital transformation through some real-world examples.

Hospitality management

It focuses on ambitious digital transformation, aiming to put the customer back at the center of its strategy and operations. We need to assess organizational structure to embrace digital transformation and identify how data from online content and reviews might play a role in increasing booking. Latest advancement in this respect are Online Travel Agencies, service aggregators like Expedia, We have another competitor in market which is not only digitally transforming the hospitality industry but actually bringing disruption with the help of technology, AirBnb.[38]


Digital experience has become inevitable without e-commerce interaction. Big players like, have already disrupted the shopping journey. But now we have more challenging tasks of avoiding security breaches like theft of debit and credit card numbers as well as the personal information of millions of customers. We need to improve over our infrastructure with minute details like safe transactional operations, improved customer satisfaction along with data security.[39]


It focuses on digital transformation of banking sector in seeking regional growth amidst a new digital era. Banks have already invested heavily in technology and infrastructure. From online banking (bank in your pocket), to ATM availability at every nook and corner has enriched the user experience. Major forces of the digital transformation strategy involve the overhaul of organization, and enhancements of highly scalable digital platforms.[40]


With the increase of online learning tools and facilities organisations and individuals are looking for more flexible ways per personal development. Using video driven lectures, online learning communities and learning management systems allows creating new business models which disrupt the traditional lecture driven training sessions.[5]


It concentrates on the application of IT-reliant services for facilitating the management and delivery of health services. It involves storage and exchange of clinical data (e.g. electronic medical records, electronic health records), inter-professional communication (e.g. secure e-mail and direct messaging), computer-based support (e.g. clinical decision support systems, computerized physician order entry), patient-provider interaction and service delivery (e.g. patient referral and handover systems), and education.[41] Most studies implicitly report on cases from primary care (e.g. family doctors, medical specialists), secondary care (e.g. hospitals, clinics), or medical research facilities. However, digital transformation in healthcare also takes place in areas other than clinics and research facilities, like for example community-based health promotion and outpatient care services.

Supply chain

Supply chain digitalization aims at integrating physical processes with digital data to optimize and solve problems. It involves areas such as predictive analysis for forecasting order fulfillment with intelligent processes, digitalizing operational processes, remote controlling and implementing digital twins to better manage the end to end logistics process.

Other studies

In November 2011, a three-year study conducted by the MIT Center for Digital Business and Capgemini Consulting concluded that only one-third of companies globally have an effective digital transformation program in place.[42]

The study defined an "effective digital transformation program" as one that addressed:

  • "The What": the intensity of digital initiatives within a corporation.
  • "The How": the ability of a company to master transformational change to deliver business results.[42]

A report published in 2013 by Booz & Company warns that the impact of digitization "is not uniform".[43] This points out that some sectors and countries have taken to digitization more readily than others. It concludes that "policymakers need to develop digitization plans across sectors that take into consideration the varying impact by level of economic development and sector".

In 2015, the World Economic Forum and Accenture launched the digital transformation initiative (DTI) to study and research the impact of digitalization. The initiative offers unique insights into the impact of digital technologies on business and wider society over the next decade. DTI research supports collaboration between the public and private sectors focused on ensuring that digitalization unlocks new levels of prosperity for both industry and society. A 2017 interim report claims that digital transformation "could deliver $ 100 trillion in value to business and society over the next decade".[44]

A 2015 report by MIT Center for Digital Business and Deloitte found that "maturing digital businesses are focused on integrating digital technologies, such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud, in the service of transforming how their businesses work. Less-mature digital businesses are focused on solving discrete business problems with individual digital technologies."[45]

In February 2017, a study by McKinsey & Company argued that "On average, industries are less than 40 percent digitized, despite the relatively deep penetration of these technologies in media, retail, and high tech". This study also points out the inequality in the penetration of digital change across industries, arguing that while in some industries there were core changes due to digitization, in others the impact of this phenomenon was limited to minor or secondary changes.[46]

In July 2017, a survey of 1239 global IT and business professionals was released by the digital performance management company Dynatrace. While this study shows, that 48% of its participants "stated digital performance challenges were directly hindering the success of digital transformation strategies in their companies", the survey also refers to 75% of respondents, "who had low levels of confidence in their ability to resolve digital performance problems".[47]

In October 2017 a survey of 890 CIOs and IT Directors across 23 countries by Logicalis Group established that 44% of respondents felt complex legacy technology is the chief barrier to digital transformation, with 51% saying they planned to adapt or replace existing infrastructure as a means of accelerating digital transformation.[48]

See also


  1. O'Donnell, Jim (10 March 2017). "IDC says get on board with the DX economy or be left behind". 
  2. Matt, Christian; Hess, Thomas; Benlian, Alexander (2015-08-04). "Digital Transformation Strategies" (in en). Business & Information Systems Engineering 57 (5): 339–343. doi:10.1007/s12599-015-0401-5. ISSN 2363-7005. 
  3. Dignan, Larry. "Adobe's biggest Creative Cloud perk could be lower piracy" (in en). 
  4. Lankshear, Colin; Knobel, Michele (2008). Digital literacies: concepts, policies and practices. pp. 173. ISBN 978-1433101694. "The ultimate stage is that of digital transformation and is achieved when the digital usages which have been developed enable innovation and creativity and stimulate significant change within the professional or knowledge domain." 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Heinze, Aleksej; Griffiths, Marie; Fenton, Alex; Fletcher, Gordon (2018). "Knowledge exchange partnership leads to digital transformation at Hydro-X Water Treatment, Ltd". Global Business and Organizational Excellence 37 (4): 6–13. doi:10.1002/joe.21859. 
  6. Patel, Keyur; McCarthy, Mary Pat (2000). Digital transformation: the essentials of e-Business leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-136408-0. 
  7. Roy, Jeffrey (2006). E-government in Canada: Transformation for the Digital Age. Governance (ISSN 1487-3052), Volume 8. Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press. pp. 1–4. ISBN 0776606174. 
  8. Ramanujam, R C (2009). Mass communication and its digital transformation. New Delhi: A P H Publishing. ISBN 978-8131300398. 
  9. Art & Computers: an exploratory investigation on the digital transformation of art. PH.D. thesis, published in Cyber Flux News, July 1997, and in the Encyclopedia of Postmodernism, Victor E. Taylor, Charles E. Winquist, London and New York, Routledge, 2001.
  10. Goldsmith, Jeff Charles (2003). Digital Medicine: Implications for Healthcare Leaders. Health Administation Press. ISBN 9781567932119. "digital transformation." 
  11. Baker, Mark (July 2014). Digital Transformation. ISBN 978-1500448486. 
  13. von Leibniz, Gottfried (1703). Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire, Die Sciences (Thesis). Académie royale des sciences.
  14. Boole, George (2009). An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. reprinted with corrections [1958] ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. Macmillan, Dover Publications. ISBN 978-1-108-00153-3. 
  15. Shannon, C. E. (1938). A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. Trans. AIEE 57 (12): 713–723. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  16. Tropp, H. S., (1993), "Stibitz, George Robert," in Anthony Ralston and Edwin D. Reilly, eds., Encyclopedia of Computer Science, Third Edition (New York: van Nostrand Rheinhold, 1993), pp. 1284–1286.
  17. Manuel, Castells (1996). The information age : economy, society and culture. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631215943. OCLC 43092627. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 "Who Invented the Transistor?". 4 December 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2019. 
  19. Lee, Thomas H. (2003). "A Review of MOS Device Physics". The Design of CMOS Radio-Frequency Integrated Circuits. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139643771. 
  20. "1960 - Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated". The Silicon Engine (Computer History Museum). 
  21. Lojek, Bo (2007). History of Semiconductor Engineering. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 321–3. ISBN 9783540342588. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "Triumph of the MOS Transistor". Computer History Museum. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2019. 
  23. Motoyoshi, M. (2009). "Through-Silicon Via (TSV)". Proceedings of the IEEE 97 (1): 43–48. doi:10.1109/JPROC.2008.2007462. ISSN 0018-9219. 
  24. "Transistors Keep Moore's Law Alive". EETimes. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2019. 
  25. Hittinger, William C. (1973). "Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Technology". Scientific American 229 (2): 48–59. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0873-48. ISSN 0036-8733. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Remarks by Director Iancu at the 2019 International Intellectual Property Conference". June 10, 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019. 
  27. Chan, Yi-Jen (1992). Studies of InAIAs/InGaAs and GaInP/GaAs heterostructure FET's for high speed applications. University of Michigan. p. 1. "The Si MOSFET has revolutionized the electronics industry and as a result impacts our daily lives in almost every conceivable way." 
  28. Grant, Duncan Andrew; Gowar, John (1989). Power MOSFETS: theory and applications. Wiley. p. 1. ISBN 9780471828679. "The metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) is the most commonly used active device in the very large-scale integration of digital integrated circuits (VLSI). During the 1970s these components revolutionized electronic signal processing, control systems and computers." 
  29. Colinge, Jean-Pierre; Greer, James C. (2016). Nanowire Transistors: Physics of Devices and Materials in One Dimension. Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9781107052406. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 Khan, Shahyan (2017-06-02). Leadership in the Digital Age - a study on the effects of digitalization on top management leadership (PDF) (Thesis). Stockholm Business School.
  31. "How Digital Disruption Impacts Manufacturing Industry" (in en-US). 
  32. Chew, Eng (2015-07-01). "Value Co-creation in the Organizations of the Future". IT Leadership in Transition-The Impact of Digitalization on Finish Organizations. ISBN 978-952-60-6243-3. ISSN 1799-490X. 
  33. Cochoy, Hagberg, Peterson McIntyre, Sörum (2017) Digitalizing Consumption. How devices shape consumer culture. Routledge.
  34. Jane McConnell. "The Company Cultures That Help (or Hinder) Digital Transformation". Retrieved 2017-01-12. 
  35. W. Reinartz, N.Wiegand and M. Imschloss, The impact of digital transformation on the retailing value chain, International Journal of Research in Marketing,
  36. Rhys Grossman. "The Industries That Are Being Disrupted the Most by Digital". Retrieved 2017-01-12. 
  37. McKinsey, the case for digital reinvention (Feb. 2017). Accessed May 13, 2017.
  38. Oskam, Jeroen (2016). "Airbnb: the future of networked hospitality businesses". Journal of Tourism Futures 2: 22–42. doi:10.1108/JTF-11-2015-0048. 
  39. Young, Ernst &. "Big data: Changing the way businesses compete and operate". 
  40. Weill, Peter; Soh, Christina; Sia, Siew Kien (June 2016). "How DBS Bank Pursued a Digital Business Strategy". 
  41. Mettler, Tobias; Pinto, Roberto (2018). "Evolutionary paths and influencing factors towards digital maturity: An analysis of the status quo in Swiss hospitals". Technological Forecasting and Social Change 133: 7104–117. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2018.03.009. 
  42. 42.0 42.1 Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for Billion-Dollar Organization (Report). Capgemini Consulting. 2011. 
  43. "Digitization for economic growth and job creation: Regional and industry perspectives". 
  44. World Economic Forum Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI) website. Accessed May 13, 2017.
  45. Kane, Gerald; Palmer, Doug; Nguyen Phillips, Anh; Kiron, David; Buckley, Natasha. "Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation". 
  46. "The case for digital reinvention". 
  47. "The Global Digital Performance & Transformation Audit". 
  48. "Logicalis CIO Survey 2017-2018 | Think Hub" (in en). October 2017. 


  • Bounfour, A. (2016). Digital Futures, Digital Transformation, Progress in IS. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
  • Collin, J., Hiekkanen, K., Korhonen, JJ, the heel, M., Itälä, T., Helenius, M ., (2015). IT Leadership in Transition-The Impact of digitalization on Finnish Organization. Research report, Aalto University. Department of Computer Science.
  • Heinze A, Griffiths M, Fenton A, Fletcher G., (2018) Knowledge exchange partnership leads to digital transformation at Hydro-X Water Treatment, Ltd. Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 37:6–13, doi:10.1002/joe.21859.
  • Vogelsang, M. (2010). Digitalization in Open Economies, Contributions to Economics. Physica-Verlag HD, Heidelberg.
  • Westerman, G. Bonnet, D., McAfee, A. (2014). Leading Digital: Turning technology into business transformation. Harvard Business Press.