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This guide is part of the Digital Transformation Advisor, a subscription-based
suite for digital transformation leaders. 

Regardless of your role or industry, chances are you've seen digital transformation defined a lot lately. It’s the promised outcome displayed on every software platform’s website, and a frequent headline and tag in publications aimed at CIOs or other tech types. But what does it actually mean? Or look like in practice?

If you’re looking for a simple definition, here’s one you can use — but please read on for a more detailed description of the core elements of digital transformation. By thinking more deeply about each of these elements, you’ll be able to come up with a unique definition tailored to your specific organizational context.

Digital transformation - The purposeful selection, design and deployment of modern workplace technology in ways that honor and amplify each person’s contribution while remaining responsive and resilient to continual change.

The Core Elements of Digital Transformation

At Ideal State we think a lot about the true meaning of digital transformation. It’s what we help our clients achieve. We prefer to take a holistic approach to digital transformation, and have defined an actionable set of considerations for how technology is put to use in any size or type of organization. Use the elements below as a starting point to think and converse more deeply about what digital transformation means in your organization as a first step toward achieving your “ideal state.”




Technology that you deploy within your organization should be in service to the organizational values, mission, and strategies it supports. First, start with what the organization is trying to accomplish, internally and externally, and examine the ways in which technology could speed progress toward desired goals and outcomes. That is where your digital transformation journey should begin.




Once you understand the ways in which technology could better support your organization’s goals and desired outcomes, deeply explore the human side of the equation. How is technology helping or hindering people’s work? What could be done to increase productivity and, even more importantly, the overall quality of the employee experience? Freeing up staff time spent on routine tasks that could be automated, for instance, could unlock tremendous value for the organization while increasing worker happiness. Put another way, it’s about honoring and creating space for what’s uniquely human, while tasking machines with what they do best.


Responsive and Resilient

Organizations, and the world at large, are not static entities changing at predictable intervals. They are living, constantly evolving, and highly complex systems that change and morph in often surprising ways. No technology has an infinite lifespan, but platforms can be selected and configured in ways that are designed to nimbly weather and respond to change rather than break down, or require intensive investments, every time an adjustment is needed.


Communicating effectively about digital transformation and what it means to your organization is the the most important, first step you can take as a digital transformation leader. Developing your organization's very own definition is also a great way to get potential collaborators, champions, and gatekeepers on board and engaged at the beginning of your journey. Hold a visioning session or lunchtime brainstorm. Have fun with it and start generating excitement about what's coming. And most importantly, set a collaborative and inclusive tone that will carry throughout the digital transformation process.

If you are looking for another resource to get started, we recommend checking out The Importance of a Digital Transformation Roadmap, a tool found in our Dx Advisor support suite.

Dx Advisor by Ideal State
Helping Digital Transformation Leaders Succeed

This fall, Ideal State is introducing Dx Advisor a first-of-its-kind support suite for digital transformation leaders. Your Dx Advisor subscription will provide everything you need to lead a successful digital transformation project, including:

  • Unlimited access to a dedicated advisor, who will serve as your strategist and guide
  • Access to the Dx Advisor playbook: A vast collection of field-tested tools, templates, and step-by-step instructions for leading digital transformation
  • A personalized dashboard to track and manage your entire digital transformation journey
Learn More: Dx Advisor >