By all accounts, digital transformation is a complex topic with many different components, moving parts, and stakeholders.  Many books and articles have been published on the topic, and there's a significant amount of ongoing research to further understand and explain its value.  

Apple had it right 20 years ago when it released the Apple iPod.  Think about the device's intelligent design, the backend complexity it removed and masked, and the value and experience the consumers have enjoyed as a result.  This is a good early example of digital transformation that changed an industry and provided the company that delivered it a strategic competitive advantage.  "Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clear to make it simple.  But it's worth it in the end." - Steve Jobs.

It's time as experienced technology leaders to step up and address the issue that we’ve been primarily responsible for propagating: complexity.  Digital transformation requires complex system integration, new processes, governance, and application development; but none of those requirements by themselves offers intrinsic value for the customer. It’s time to simplify the understanding of digital transformation, and as Dr. Mehmet Yildiz points out in his article, Importance of Simplicity In Technology Excellence, it starts with clear communication in natural human language that customers will understand.

To see digital transformation in a new light, we must look at it through the eyes of the customer. Specifically, how will your customer derive value, what differentiated value is created, and why would they do this?  How is it different?  It requires upfront collaboration to answer these questions.

My call to action is this: before you think about addressing the ‘how’ of digital transformation, spend time getting the 'why' right, and then the complexity associated with accomplishing the 'how' will seem a lot less insurmountable.