Welcome to D1g1tal Transf0rmat10n Week!

The churning ocean was slapping his thick, curly black hair all over his face. It looked like seaweed, like he was Poseidon’s son, and he had done wrong.

His foamy face was full of fear. He was swimming hard against a riptide – also called a rip current – and was starting to lose. He was about to go under.

I was about 50 yards away on a surfboard – the same one that had recently slammed me in the face, but we’re not here to talk about that – so I quickly headed in his direction. Less than a minute later, he grabbed my hand and I pulled him out of the ripper.

“Cuando … riptide … necesitas nadar in … eso direccione,” I told him, pointing parallel to shore with my hand.

Thousands of dollars of semi-failed Spanish lessons aside, I couldn’t believe a kid who lived in Costa Rica didn’t know how to get out of a riptide. It’s extremely easy. Then my wife reminded me that it’s a big, mountainous country – not just a semi-surfer’s paradise.

Sarcasm duly noted. The swelling of my nose testified to my semi-surfer status. I wondered, do I speak Spanish as poorly as I surf?

Digital transformation: Riptide or current?

Technology can be a lot like a riptide. For inexperienced swimmers, it can be overwhelming, even frightening. And if they fight it, they just might drown.

However, like riptides, most change is strongest at the outset, but gradually diminishes in strength. So when change engulfs you like a strong ripper, relax. Embrace it, even. If you freak out, all you need to do is simply swim parallel to land until you don’t feel it anymore. Then you’re safe.

That’s how I used to think about digital transformation. But the more I encountered riptides, the more I started to wonder if it was the right analogy.

A few days after pulling that nice kid out of danger, I fell out of a raft while whitewater rafting. Starting to notice a pattern here?

After careening down the river while trapped underneath the raft for what seemed like a week, I realized I had to go with the flow. So I stopped struggling, and a few seconds later, popped out from underneath the raft.

The same goes for digital transformation. I now realize it’s more like a current. Riptides are random occurrences that only lead out to the open water. But currents, if you use them correctly, can take you where you want to go.

Fear and anger: Not good

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true,” Bodhi tells Johnny Utah in the classic surfers-who-are-bank-robbers movie Point Break.

It’s true. So we shouldn’t be afraid. And we definitely can’t get angry about technology, because it isn’t going away. There’s only going to be more, whether it’s artificial intelligence, the internet of things, or augmented reality.

Ok, maybe you’re not a huge Patrick Swayze or surfing fan, and you’d like a quote that’s a little more tailored to the IT industry. Fine by me. Here’s a good one.

“The pain of same is greater than the pain of change,” said Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB.

That quote is also true. The world changes. Always has, always will. And organizations that are slow to adapt will fall behind – and quickly, as the pace of information flow increases exponentially.

We believe in digital transformation, and we don’t want it to become a generic buzzword that doesn’t really mean anything. So we’re going to define it.

Throughout the entire week, you’re going to hear opinions on and advice about digital transformation from industry experts who have been living it for decades. I hope you enjoy their insight, comments, and stories.

And don’t forget: Go with the flow!

Scoop Skupien

Scoop Skupien

Scoop Skupien is a former radio station mascot. These days, he's a senior content strategist at Hyland and the editor of this blog. An author with an MBA and two books in print, he’s been writing about tech for Hyland for a decade. His industry certifications include CDIA and ecmp.

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