Now, THAT's What I Call Transformation

All of a sudden, “transformation” seems to be cropping up in messaging from my clients and elsewhere in the IT marketing world. Transformation is suddenly something we all need to do to become thin and happy and rich and sexy. There’s even a Business Transformation Institute, an Army Office of Business Transformation and, of course, consulting firms with business transformation practices.

Why “transformation,” and why now? It isn’t because of a sudden upsurge in interest in those great toys. It’s because everyone is finally convinced we’re past our near-death experience during the recession and will, indeed, live to earn another buck. But so much has changed (higher unemployment, ongoing economic uncertainty, global offshoring, MidEast unrest) we feel we need to change, too, so we can survive. If you have no clue how to change, just say you’re transforming and maybe everyone will get it and things will turn out OK.

Or not. If you just throw out “transformation” without explanation you’ll leave your prospects more confused than ever. Here are three hurdles you must cross if you really want to claim “transformation.”

Define what you’re transforming from and to. What specifically were you before that was bad, ugly, stupid, slow,and inefficient? What specifically are you becoming that is good, attractive, smart, fast and efficient?

Show how transformation will help your target audience. If an airline is transforming its gate areas, show me the comfortable seats with power outlets and free Wi-Fi. If you’re transforming enterprise architecture software, show me the new visualizations that will make sense to business managers. If you’re transforming order entry for a telecom, show me how it will speed provisioning a new account.

And finally, don’t claim you’re transforming if you’re only tweaking. The dictionary says “transform” can mean “to change in composition or structure, to change the outward form or appearance or to change in character or condition.” But when I hear transformation I think of a complete makeover from one thing into another,, as when a toy turns from a ’75 Camaro into a robot. Can you do that? Do you want to do that?

Based on my years of watching IT and business, I say be careful about promising “transformation.” You can’t just take a product, or an organization, twist a few plastic components and turn a door into a shield, an engine into a face and fenders into feet. If you’ve really have delivered transformation, prove it with specifics and examples. And if you’re not sure you’ve really done the T-word, get an outsider to cast a skeptical eye on it before going public.

Bob Scheier, a veteran IT technology journalist and marketing copywriter, is available for skeptical glances at just about anything.


Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email or call me at 508 725-7258.

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