While the prospect of going on holiday is exciting, it doesn’t take long for the planning to spiral out of control. There’s no chance of booking anything without reading a million different travel blogs, discount sites and articles. After a few weeks of endlessly scrolling through blogs, reviews and recommendations, you’re still no closer to having a plan.

So, the digital transformation journey isn’t much different. There are hundreds of ebooks, blogs, news articles and videos talking to business owners, telling them why they need to adopt digital and that they need to do it now – or even better, have done it yesterday. It’s no surprise that business leaders aren’t sure what to do: only 47% believe their company has a clear or formal digital transformation strategy in place[1].

The problem is, is that there’s too much focus on the ‘why’ and not enough practical, helpful advice around transforming. As a result, the idea of digital transformation is in danger of becoming little more than white noise. Business and IT leaders face an onslaught of messages every day about digital, and this constant nagging isn’t going to win anyone over. In fact, it’s likely to make readers switch off and forget why digital transformation is exciting.

Because it is. This is our industrial revolution, and we’re lucky to be living through such an exhilarating era of rapid change. History books (or apps on tablets) will look back and study the companies that kept up with change – and those that got left behind. When repetitive ebooks and bland emails make you forget that digital transformation really is exciting – we’ve got a problem. So, it’s time to approach digital transformation in the same way you’d go about planning your next holiday.

A ticket to transformation

Now, everyone plans holidays in their own way. But I’m pretty confident in assuming you don’t look at the pictures of your hotel and attempt to get there with no other information. You’d consult a map, book flights or trains, and plan your route. Business and IT leaders are forever being told to think of the benefits of digital, to think of how amazing it’ll be once they get there, but then most of the time, they’re left stranded with no information on how to make the journey.

What’s needed is a map. A plane ticket, to get businesses from where they are now, to where they want to be. But it can’t be just any old map: if it’s going to work, leaders need the biggest map they can find. It needs to be detailed enough to show all the diversions and the shortcuts, and all the danger signs, cautions and warnings. And it’s got to cover the road for as long as it goes. Digital transformation doesn’t have a final destination. It’s a journey, a road trip. Yes, businesses will incorporate the biggest software, IT and culture changes, but they won’t ever stop innovating or changing to meet customer expectations.

And on that note, the perfect digital road map needs to encapsulate everything from culture to tech. There’s no point going on this journey and only focusing on operating systems. Or on data capture models. Or on customer experience. The map needs to include progress through business needs, IT and tech, and company culture. Otherwise it’s like going on a road trip through Europe, and only having a map of France.

For businesses to successfully go digital and disrupt, they need specific, tailored advice. The usual scaremongering articles or blogs describing the need for change won’t cut it anymore. You know you need to transform – that’s not up for debate. But what you need to know is how to do it. How to move your business using what’s available to you.

So, here’s your (figurative) plane ticket: Future Decoded. In the Azure Summit on day two, you can create a road map. You’ll have the chance to explore technologies like AI, the IoT and blockchain. You’ll hear from companies that have disrupted their industries. And most importantly, you’ll put together a road map for your own digital transformation.

To find out more, and to create your digital roadmap, register for the Azure Summit, on day two of Future Decoded

[1] Digital Transformation: The Age of Innocence, Inertia or Innovation? Microsoft, 2017