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What is Digital Transformation?

By Richard Arneson

We’ve all heard of it; we know our company should be striving to achieve it; but what exactly is…digital transformation?
Many people, at least those outside of the IT and telecommunications industries, may have been first introduced to the digital world through clocks or CD’s, leaving them with the question, “Haven’t we been digitally transformed for years?” Well, yes, in a sense, but when digital is used with transformation, it means something altogether different. In the simplest of definitions, digital transformation refers to how companies utilize technology to change:

  • the way their business operates,
  • how they engage their customers, and
  • how they become more competitive, and profitable, as a result.

This transformation accelerates positive change across all departments and provides, if done correctly, agility, efficiencies, innovation, and key analytics to help companies make more educated business decisions.

Becoming more competitive

Whether or not a company has a digital transformation strategy, they can be certain of one thing―their competitors do. Creating and implementing one is not easy, especially for companies who’ve enjoyed long term success. Here’s why: it requires them to do what will probably be very uncomfortable, even unconscionable―re-think processes and procedures that may have been in place and successful for decades, and even be prepared to scrap them, if necessary.
Digital transformation is somewhat like human factors engineering (AKA ergonomics), which forces companies to better understand, even feel, that end user experience. Companies need to, as author Steven Covey wrote in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, begin with the end in mind. They need to imagine how they’d like to engage customers, keep them engaged, and monetize that user experience. From there, they can begin to reverse engineer what it will take to get there (yes, that’s where it gets really challenging).

The move toward edge devices

Edge devices, of course, refer to the point at which a network is accessed. Ask a 60-year-old network engineer what he considers to be an edge device, and he’ll probably list routers, switches, multiplexers, et al.—all of the equipment that provides access to LANs (token ring, ethernet) and WANs, which support a wide array of technologies, such as frame relay, ISDN, ATM and MPLS. Lower that age group and respondents will probably think IoT, then list off smart phones, tablets and sensors, such as doorbells, thermostats and security systems—basically, anything that runs iOS, Android or Linux, and has an IP address.
So how are these edge devices an integral component of digital transformation? Well, they represent the sundry ways customers can enjoy an enhanced end user experience. And while customers are enjoying that better experience, the company, in turn, is accessing vital information and key analytics to help them make more impactful and better-educated business decisions. The result? Enhanced, targeted marketing, happier and more well-informed customers, operational efficiencies enjoyed by multiple departments and business units, and, of course, higher revenue.

Digital Transformation

The next time somebody asks you about digital transformation or what it means, you’ll know what to say in under twenty-five (25) words: “Digital transformation is the utilization of technology to enhance the end user experience, transform business processes and greatly advance value propositions.”
For more information about how your organization can develop or enhance its digital transformation journey, call on the expert solutions architects and engineers at GDT. For years they’ve been helping customers of all sizes, and from all industries, realize their digital transformation goals. Contact them at They’d love to hear from you.


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