In a quest to find out just how ubiquitous the term “digital transformation” has become in our daily lives, I decided to search the New York Times for instances. Turns out that there are more than 2,300 results in the Times for the term. That’s a lot of instances for a term that most people experience, but few truly understand.

Digital transformation is the process of using tools and technologies in a variety of areas of our lives. It is replacing manual tasks with automation. It is replacing old technology with new technology. Digital transformation promises to make life simpler, easier, and more efficient.

When I was a young teenager, my father owned a hardware store. We had a cash register at the store. The cash register allowed us to record each transaction. And it was where we stored the money. Figuring out the cost of a purchase was something we had to do manually. Using a pencil (never a pen), we would record the price of each item on the brown paper bag. Next we’d total the amount and look up the tax in the tax table which was taped to the cash register. We’d add it to the sum and get the grand total.

When a customer handed us cash and needed change, my father was adamant that we learn how to do this in our heads. We were not allowed to use the brown paper bag for subtraction. Only addition.

Those days are so quaint by today’s standards. No one totals the cost of goods using paper and a pencil. No one makes change in their head. Rarely do we even pay for goods using cash. So much of our lives has been automated.

When I work with companies on their digital transformation strategy, one important piece tends to be missing. And that piece is transforming the content, itself. You cannot achieve digital transformation without content transformation.

It’s like having a credit card company provide my Dad with a machine to accept credit card transactions without providing people with credit cards to use the machine. The machine is transformative. But if people only have cash, it is not helpful.

Content transformation is at the heart of digital transformation. Because in the digital world, everything is content. And you need to change your content to take full advantage of the advances in technology.

Content transformation is moving your content from one size fits one, to one size fits many. It involves taking your long form, monolithic, start-at-page-one-and-write-until-page-300 content and splitting into small, nimble, pieces. Then, you can reuse those pieces over and over again, for different outputs, different devices, and different people.

It’s like taking your Visa card and using that one card over and over again, anywhere in the entire world. You don’t have to travel with dollars, euros, yen, baht, and shekels. That one small, nimble, card can be reused anywhere you need it.

The combination of technology and content transformation makes digital transformation possible. 

If you need help with your content strategy and with transforming your content for digital transformation, please reach out. I’m happy to chat with you any time.

Val Swisher
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