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Digital transformation is being driven by AI that is acting as a catalyst for business advancement. We looked at eight cases of digital transformation and found nine key themes. We looked at cases of digital transformation in finance, tourism, transport, entertainment and social innovation (Zarifis et al. 2023).

Figure 1. The tightly coiled ‘spring’ of digital transformation leader’s innovation, and the followers

The first of the nine main themes identified here is: (1) Digital transformation leaders will constantly innovate, while digital transformation laggards will have a stop-start approach. Digital transformation leaders will rapidly innovate going through regular iterative evolutions of their technologies, moving through repeated cycles of agile developments metaphorically forming a ‘spring’. New innovations and in-house skills are built up in this process of constant innovation. Continuing with the metaphor this tightly coiled ‘spring’ will store ‘energy’ propelling the organization forward. Digital transformation laggards will have a stop-start approach copying certain solutions of the leaders but not keeping up. Metaphorically a far less tightly coiled ‘spring’.

The other eight themes identified are: (2) There are no simple answers, or a single way to go forward, with digital transformation. (3) Each sector of the economy has its own opportunities, challenges and must find its own path forward. (4) Changes in one sector of the economy, such as the financial sector, will send a ripple of change across other sectors of the economy. (5) Change needs a shared vision, and digital transformation needs leaders to create the shared vision. (6) Digital transformation needs trust and cooperation on every level: Teams, organizations, governments and super-organizations like the EU. (7) People will still have a role: Staff, customers and other stakeholders are still important. (8) There is a dark side of digital transformation that may have not been fully revealed to us yet. (9) Digital transformation should happen hand in hand with sustainability and resilience.

Those are the nine main themes of digital transformation identified based on the cases we looked at. A leader of digital transformation must disassemble the technology, processes, business models and strategies, involved and then put together their own collage of what they want to achieve, and their own montage of the journey there.

Dr Alex Zarifis


Zarifis A., Efthymiou L. & Cheng X. (2023) ‘Sustainable digital transformation in finance, tourism, transport, entertainment and social innovation’. In Zarifis A., Ktoridou D., Efthymiou L. & Cheng X. (ed.) Business digital transformation: Selected cases from industry leaders, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.1-16.

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