The nature of digital transformation has been evolving for decades. We went from turning paper into digits, to optimizing processes with software, to networking, to software as a service (SaaS), to the new digital economy. Before the pandemic, it felt like we were a few years away from a tipping point when digital transformation would shift from optimizing business to transforming it. A host of external pressures, including climate change, trade wars, social unrest, and a move toward intelligent automation in factories and supply chains have been behind this shift.1 Then the pandemic arrived, and it accelerated digital investments further.2 Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in his 2021 shareholder letter that “Digital transformation that was projected to happen over the next 10 years is happening today.”3

What drove the impressive speed of pandemic transformations was that across silos people knew what needed to be done and why.4 The rush may have been error-prone, but the crisis made the “why” behind the “what” clear. They knew what they were aiming to achieve, and then figured out how digital technology could drive and enable it.