Every organization today is undergoing a process of digital transformation. But there is no single highway to the future state; each organization follows a different path to achieve its digital goals.

digital-transformationv2For many financial services companies, transformation means converting paper records to digital records. For most retailers, it means seamless integration of transactional services across multiple customer touchpoints.

For transportation companies, transformation means developing fleets of driverless cars and trucks. For manufacturing companies, it means replacing human workers with robots.

It would be unfair and unrealistic to judge the progress of a company’s digital transformation by comparing it to a company in a different industry. Media companies, for example, will surely take a different path to digital transformation than medical device companies.

The point is that each organization must blaze its own trail through the wilderness and avoid becoming distracted by unreasonable comparisons.

A bank’s journey to digital transformation will likely involve thousands of hours of manual keyboarding and scanning of paper documents. A microchip maker’s transformation, on the other hand, will likely involve the development and deployment of complex AI solutions for analyzing and monitoring the quality of its products.

Digital transformation will have a different meaning to a pharmaceutical research company than it will to a maritime shipping firm.

For some organizations, digital transformation will involve developing capabilities for data mining, customer segmentation, product recommendations and dynamic pricing. For other types of organizations, digital transformation will include speech recognition, behavioral analytics, geolocation and retina scans.

It’s not surprising that as we move further down the path of digital transformation, its meanings become more nuanced and more granular. From my perspective, that’s a sign of maturity.

Digital transformation has evolved from a catchphrase into a process. It’s no longer hype – it’s real. Every organization has a duty to find its own unique definition for digital transformation and to draw its own roadmap. No two journeys will be exactly alike because each organization will have its own set of needs and requirements.

That said, there is no escaping the imperative for digital transformation. We live in a digital world and every organization needs to move forward on its transformational journey. Standing still is not an option.