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What Comes After Digital Transformation?

In this insight from our partners at the ILO institute, we explore the difference between standard forms of digital transformation and the more complex, human-centric process that follows from it: digital transition.

What Comes After Digital Transformation?

U+, in partnership with the ILO Institute, is excited to bring you highlights from ILO’s Weekly Virtual Gatherings. In this Insight, we’re discussing the long-term consequences of digital transformation and how it will affect the humans in the loop..

We've lived through a solid decade of "digital transformation," and have seen that phenomenon move from a radical notion to standard operating procedure.

Replacing old computer systems and non-automated processes with digital tools and platforms, wired into online and internal portals, has become the norm, even in slower-moving incumbent firms.

So what comes next?

The challenge now is less about transformation than about transition. Transformation is a process that gets us from A to B. New digital platforms replace old analog systems. A process for continual improvement and technical updating gets deployed, and our firms deliver more value at lower cost.

But what about the people? What about the folks who are not stars, but add human dimension to our organizations, who offer perspective on our shared past, who are kind and engaging, but not efficient?

"The challenge," one senior media executive at the ILO table in LA shared this week, "is to deploy the people who are best at the core work, and share the gain they give to the organization with every stakeholder.

"That does not mean make-work jobs. That does not mean lifetime employment. It means finding the right way to match each individual with what they are truly good at, and truly love doing. That's hard.

"A meaningful amount of the money we make by becoming more efficient has to be reinvested in helping people inside the wall get better and better, with new skills, new options, and new ways to contribute. That's what we're calling transition, beyond transformation."

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Launched in 2005, ILO is a membership organization for large companies, government agencies and not-for-profits, bringing senior executives leading innovation together for knowledge sharing and community building. ILO has completed more than 300 best-practice research reports, focusing on emerging challenges and opportunities. To learn more about ILO, membership benefits, and how to join, visit

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