Digital Transformation Versus Digital Solutions: What Are The Differences And Interdependencies?

Antoine Hemon-Laurens | Tuesday, Dec 4th 2018
hand working on digital software with nodes

As I often speak at conferences about digital transformation, I am inevitably asked just what is "digital?"  This is a simple question but difficult to answer. At first people confuse digital transformation and digital solutions. These are two different things with completely different implications as it touches on different ecosystems.


On Digital Transformation 

In summary, digital transformation is a broad enterprises wide topic. It is often owner by CEOs after being approved by their board. It is a long play that has many implications as it touches on all aspects of the enterprise operating model. It is about people, clients, services, products as much as technologies. It is about changing paradigm, keeping an open mind on future opportunities and leveraging enterprise assets to transform. I have heard people talking about digital mutation or even Digital Darwinism.


Digital transformation materializes as large initiatives that cost millions and take years to implement. They in my opinion split in two main parts:

  • Operating model transformation 
  • New operating model implementation 


They are often commissioned by CEOs and executed with the support of large consulting firms such as Ernst and Young, KPMG, McKinsey, Cap Gemini, Accenture, CGI, etc. to help with transformation and change.


These firms and enterprises are sharing efforts to realign their strategy and operating models while working with large technology partners capable of supporting long term vision with technology. These large technology partners also called mega technology platforms have a broad product and service offering ranging from tools to create websites to platform hosting data, IOT, artificial intelligence, services hosting, cloud hosting, etc. The combination of these 3 entities seem to be a wining trio to implement true digital transformation.


Digital transformation versus digital solutions: What are the differences and interdependencies?


The diagram above show the relationship between the enterprise top level, leading consulting firms and mega technology platform to deliver digital transformation.


On Digital Solutions

Digital solutions are more about digitalizing legacy processes revisiting customer experience and reducing costs. These are directly commissioned by line of business owners to achieve short term goals and to deliver rapid payback to their enterprise. Time-to-market and short-term success are therefore the drivers behind the investment. Time-to-market coupled with proven success is what drives investment in new solutions.


Line of business owners commission Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that have proven experience in implementing such solutions. They are looking for expertise from both business and technology perspectives to help them implement these solutions.  They are 3 keys to success factors to deliver digital solutions:

  • Digital Platform: platform that can run alongside existing digital silos
  • Low-code tools: tools to customize solution
  • Professional Services: Expertise in ISV technology and solution delivery 


Digital transformation versus digital solutions: What are the differences and interdependencies?


The expertise in ISV technology and solution delivery can be delivered by the ISV itself or by a partner network with ISV technology certification. It is important to understand how ISVs are maintaining their partner network and professional service expertise. 


Tools to customize solutions are also critical for business owners in enterprises. It is specifically important to understand how easy these tools can be adopted by large teams. As an example, a company needed to rollout a solution to their 30,000 agents in all branches. They insisted to have the new user interface aligned with their old solution thus increasing acceptance of the new solution. Finally, ISVs need to be able to run a platform independently from existing digital silos to avoid tight integration with existing systems. This way, solutions can be delivered faster with minimal IT support and line of business owners remain in control of their project.


Digital transformation versus digital solutions: What are the differences and interdependencies?


The diagram above show the relationship between the line of businesses, professional services or Partners experts in ISV technology and ISVs. 


In Conclusion

Although very different from one another Digital transformation and Digital solutions are complementary. Digital solutions delivered with the support of ISVs will help to accelerate digital transformation alleviating pain points in the organizations. These solutions are often seen as success stories selling larger transformation programs to the rest of the organization.


Quadient is an independent solution vendor to help improve customer communication and engagement on digital and traditional channels. Quadient helps enterprises with solutions that can be rolled out in weeks. We are focusing on the following 3 digital solutions:

  • Create & distribute personalized digital content inside websites and mobile apps
  • Digitalize & run self-service forms
  • Optimize customer onboarding processes


Please contact Antoine Hemon-Laurens @anthemlau for more details about how can Quadient help your enterprise.