The digital era is now well established, yet many still find it mystifying. The Institute launched a book earlier this year on the subject of Demystifying Digital Transformation and listening to John Thorp, Institute Fellow, during the book launch1, I was reminded of the importance of getting the basics right.

Organizations have taken an odd path over the last few decades in an attempt to re-create what is already there. Somehow, in making a big deal of things like cool workspaces and ‘our values’, many organizations have avoided doing the real work when it comes to ‘people’ and work.

Getting the basics right with digital transformation means remembering that work (and business) is about people, not things. While ‘things’ such as systems and AI can support the human experience, you can’t engineer your way through the design and implementation. Consider that:

  • Value-realization from digital transformations means taking the digital out of digital transformation (basically) and focusing on what’s left
  • Digital Transformation is what you do with, not to, people
  • What customers (people) value should drive design and decisions

Transforming human experience

I recently watched a show called Your Body Uncovered. It uses VR to help patients see what their physician sees. They can see their own diseased organ contrasted with a normal/healthy organ. A woman who nearly died from a Covid19 infection was too nervous to get a scan to find out the prognosis related to the lung damage from the infection. This VR experience developed the curiosity and courage she needed to go and get the scan. This is an example of the way that digital transforms human experience. The human being was at the centre of the experience.

Question: How can organizations use technology to enhance the everyday work experience of employees and the interaction experience of customers, and in so doing, develop a more relevant (and therefore more valuable) entity?

Successful digital transformation is where everyone benefits: shareholders, customers, employees. This is not a common experience though. More often than not, the shareholders see costs spiraling, customer complaints skyrocketing and employees becoming increasingly overwhelmed. As one said: “Today I came to work and can no longer do my job.” Organizations have to evolve to stay alive but feeling unable to work can surely be avoided.

Value is what is important to people

When organizations realize that ‘value’ is a sum total of how people think and feel, then approaches will be developed that encompass the intangible stuff of which true value is made. What really helps with this is to keep the True North front and foremost of the transformation journey. This is the organization’s purpose 3,4 defined by why it exists, who it serves and how those people benefit – how their lives are improved – by what the organization does.

To multiply value as you digitally transform:

  • Prioritize human connection
    I am reminded of a digital transformation described in an earlier article where all stakeholders reflected on the experience positively – it had enriched their work life and the service experience 5
  • Prioritize the customer experience

Are all digital advancements ‘experience enhancements’? Or do many frustrate customers at best, and expose their personal data to theft, at worst.

They say ‘Never waste a crisis.’ The pandemic has emphasised the value to human beings of the physical – analogue – world, as they have reconnected with live audiences and mingled in crowds once more.

Digital transformation that improves and intensifies what it means to be human will be what customers value most – now and in the future. Strip it all back to what really counts and focus your organization on what really matters, so employees can reconnect with the joy of work and customers can remember why they bought from you in the first place.


  1. 𝐃𝐢𝐠𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐃𝐞𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 Virtual Book Launch and Discussion. 12 January 2023.
  2. Digital Transformation – Breaking Free of the Industrial Age Straitjacket by John Thorp. October 20, 2020
  3. Creating Purpose-based Value by Raymond Sheen. June 6, 2022
  4. Purpose-Driven Technology by Rey Lugtu. April 27, 2023
  5. The Human Race in an AI Era by Cherri Holland. 23 July 2018

Tag/s:Empathy, Personal Development,