A Look at the ABCs of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can be confusing, especially if you don’t know the jargon. To help those needing to boost their digital vocabulary, research and analysis firm Econsultancy recently developed a fun digital transformation alphabet to guide digital beginners through some of the most important terms of the digital age. Do you know your digital ABCs? Read on to find out!

A is for Agile.

A project management methodology that has become popular with businesses undergoing digital transformation, agility involves teams working collaboratively and using data to drive key decisions in a continuous test-and-learn process.

B is for Benchmarking.

Setting an organizational benchmark is the first step for businesses embarking on digital transformation. Progress can’t be evaluated unless there’s a starting point against which to evaluate it. Typical benchmarking tactics include a capability audit, skills assessment, or a comprehensive review of business strategies.

benchmark stats

C is for Customer Focus.

In the digital era, the customer is by far the most important driver of digital transformation. Most companies’ digitization efforts are strongly focused on creating a better customer experience.

D is for Data.

Data is one of the most valuable resources of the digital age, offering the potential for rich and detailed customer insights when properly mined and analyzed.

E is for Education.

Digital training for non-digitally focused roles is becoming a high priority for companies now that digital technologies no longer operate in isolation, but rather serve as the foundation for broad business operations.

F is for Failure.

Getting comfortable with risk, and consequently with failure, is an essential part of digital transformation. Playing it safe is no longer an option for companies that want to stand out from the pack.

G is for Governance.


The pace of technology is moving much faster than the legislation and regulations that govern it. In order to ensure that innovation occurs in an environment that still protects public interests, a new system of governance will need to be developed. This is emerging as one of the most critical questions of the digital era.

H is for Hurdles.

Incumbents seeking to digitize themselves usually face a number of common hurdles, including legacy technology and systems, lack of in-house skills and expertise, and resistance to organizational change.

I is for Innovation Labs.

Innovation labs, essentially mini-startups operating within a larger business, are a popular strategy with incumbents looking to test drive digital transformation on a smaller scale before rolling it out across a company.

J is for Job Descriptions.

As roles evolve and new needs emerge, job descriptions are changing faster than ever, as are traditional hierarchies and reporting structures.

K is for KPIs.

Digital success can be difficult to measure, but clearly defined key performance indicators can help companies ensure they are staying on track in new and uncertain digital territory.

L is for Long-term Value.

Integrating new technology is not about creating a short-term fix, but rather about building long-term value. Digitally transforming business must look beyond their month-end targets and think instead about the longer-term potential for digital initiatives.

M is for Management (of change).


Change is hard for large, long-established organizations. In order for a transformation to be successful, inspired and committed management is an absolute must-have.

N is for Norms.

A company’s norms, such as dress code or office organization, have a significant impact on that company’s culture. If the ultimate goal of digital transformation is to change the organizational culture, changing the norms might be a good place to start.

O is for Outsourcing (versus insourcing).

Businesses that lack some of the key skills needed for their digital transformation are increasingly turning to outsourcing as a way of harnessing critical expertise. However, developing in-house talent can foster intracompany collaboration.

P is for Personality.

Digital transformation success stories of recent years have made it abundantly clear that leaders’ personalities play a critical role in guiding and driving organizational change.

Q is for (digital) Quotient.

Global research firm McKinsey coined the term “digital quotient” to describe a company’s level of digital maturity, skills, and capabilities.

R is for Roadmaps.

Digital transformation doesn’t happen without a plan. Leveraging the metaphor of digital change as a long-term journey, many companies are creating “roadmaps” to guide their transformations and help them achieve key goals.

S is for Structures.

Organizational structures are changing as digital transformation disrupts established hierarchies and breaks down barriers between business units.

T is for Talent.

Talent is at a premium in today’s digital marketplace. Given the high demand for (and short supply of) highly-skilled workers, industry experts estimate that talent shortages may continue to be a challenge for digitally transforming companies over the next few years.

U is for User Testing.


Companies cannot afford to wait until a product is perfect before launching it. Instead, user testing has become a more accepted phase of product development. It is part of an agile system in which lessons learned directly from users can be quickly integrated into future iterations.

V is for Vocabulary.

If you want to change your business, you need to change the words you use to describe it. (This ABC guide is a good place to start!)

W is for Workspace Design.

Workspace design has proved to be an important element of successful digital transformations. Features like open-plan offices and informal meeting areas help encourage the sharing and exchanging of ideas. This can lead to surprising innovations.

X is for (user) Xperience.

One of the main drivers of digital transformation is the creation of a better and easier user experience. Indeed, this is such an important element that user experience designers, or UX designers, are currently among the most sought-after employees.

Y is for Yardsticks.

No two digital transformations are alike. However, companies may still find it beneficial to chart their digital progress against that of similar organizations.

Z is for Zany Job Titles.

Just as job descriptions are changing, so too are job titles. But while the titles may be zany, the responsibilities they encompass are very serious indeed.