Digital transformation” for “digital transformation’s” sake


If you feel like you’ve begun selling “Digital Transformation” for “Digital Transformation’s Sake” stop yourself cold. Just like nobody buys technology, they buy what technology does for them, nobody’s buying DX just because. Focus on how your proposals increase your customer’s bottom line, and they’ll be happy to help increase yours!

Howard M. Cohen

AUTHOR: Howard M. Cohen

The early days of digital transformation

It’s always useful to turn to the source when you want to learn more about something.

In the case of the term “digital transformation,” that source is the consulting firm CapGemini who, in 2011, first coined the term in collaboration with the MIT Center for Digital Business.

As with so many other terms that make their way into our mainstream vernacular, the term “digital transformation” has been mangled multiple times with frequent transformations to its own definition.

RELATED  New Year Brings the Next Stage of Digital Transformation

What does “digital transformation” really mean?

According to the folks who coined the term, it means, “the application of digital technologies to impact all aspects of business and society fundamentally. Digital transformation (DX) is the process of fundamentally changing the systems, processes, people, and technology across a whole business or business unit to achieve measurable improvements in efficiency, effectiveness, and stakeholder satisfaction.”

Stakeholder Satisfaction. Translated into common parlance that means “more profits.” Higher EBITDA. Bigger bottom line. Mo Money Mo Money Mo Money.

That’s the ultimate goal of digital transformation. It’s not about changing technologies. It’s about changing how you use technology to do things better and make things better.

How does that work?

It requires a change in the way you think about DX. Most companies refresh their technology infrastructure once every several years so they continue to have the latest, greatest technology in their data center. So you replace your routers, switches, servers, storage, and the rest of your infrastructure. What changes?

Perhaps nothing.

Unless you added completely new functionality it may be that your upgrade didn’t create much or any improvement. In fact, you simply reduced the bottom line by spending money on the new stuff that replaced the old stuff. That may represent a budget transformation. Do it too many times and it may also represent a career transformation as well!

So, as Dr. Stephen Covey advises us in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit #2 – “Begin with the end in mind!” (Habit #1 is Be Proactive, which is a good idea for anyone doing anything!)

What is it you intend to make better when you perform your digital transformation?

>> Will you make a workflow more efficient?

>> Will you enhance someone’s enjoyment of their job?

>> Will you remove boring, repetitive tasks from someone’s life and replace them with truly inspirational activities?

>> Will you enhance collaboration?

>> Will you improve communications?

>> Will you advance any applications?

>> Will you accelerate some processes?

>> Will you reduce error rates for some procedure?

Now, get ready for it, because here it comes:

So what????

Yes, the big “So What?” Who cares? Why does doing this matter?

Whose bottom line does it improve?

There it is. Whose bottom line? At the end of the day, the purpose of all business is to generate profit. If you take an action and it doesn’t produce any profit, why did you do it? As one manager put it, if you spend $100 to accomplish something when it returns at least $101 you’ve only just begun to justify doing it.

Business transforming and career transforming digital transformations

Some MSPs develop a bad habit of selling technology for technology’s sake. They persuade their customer that their solution is “just so cool.” And, indeed, it may look cool. But when that customer sees that it doesn’t contribute to their bottom line you stand a good chance of losing that customer. Lose enough of those customers and you stand a good chance of losing your job.

You may be thinking that it’s hard to quantify contribution to the bottom line from, say, a security solution you sell to a customer. Think about it again. What happens if someone steals their data, or corrupts it and holds it for ransom? How much does that cost them? Is the ounce of prevention worth the pound of cure? You bet it is.

Profit is generated by reducing costs and by increasing revenue. That’s it. Those are the only ways it is done. So as you embark on proposing your next digital transformation project ask yourself, “How does this clearly reduce my customer’s cost?” and “How does this clearly increase my customer’s revenue?” When you have a great answer to one or the other or both, then present it to your customer and watch the sales magic happen right before your eyes.

Tell us about your experience transforming your clients’ technology.  Your peers would love to hear from you in the Modern MSP Facebook Group.

About the author

Senior Resultant Howard M. Cohen is a 35+ year executive veteran of the Information Technology industry, an authorized CompTIA instructor, and a regular contributor to many IT industry publications. After 35 years as an IT industry executive, Howard has been writing for and about the channel since 2009.

He has served on many vendor advisory panels including the Apple, Compaq, HP, IBM, and NEC Service Advisory Councils. He has also served on the Ingram Micro Service Network board and as a U.S. Board member of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners. 

Howard is a well-known frequent speaker at IT industry events including Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (now Inspire), Citrix Synergy/Summit, ConnectWise IT Nation, ChannelPro Forums, Cloud Partners Summit, MicroCorp One-On-One, and CompTIA ChannelCon. 

Howard refers to himself as a “Senior Resultant” because he has always understood that we are all measured only by our results. Connect with Howard at and review his portfolio at