This Industry Viewpoint was authored by David W Wang
When I work with enterprise clients nowadays on their digital transformation (DX) initiatives, one typical response especially from C-suite level is that DX is so comprehensive to plan, pilot and implement, that the teams often get overwhelmed by all the projects, technologies and applications involved. Strategically, what would make a pivotal guide that can connect the dots for the DX journey?
I always believe for DX to happen along the right track, people would need to engage with the so called “bridge type” thinking, which links together the past, present and future. The past summarizes what you have so far, the present identifies what you need to transform today, and the future opens new business paradigms forward.
This also furthers my interest and motivation to work and help with the clients on better navigating their DX journey. One major milestone is to grow a digital mindset and we can achieve that objective by constantly mingling with the DX enlightening concepts, key lessons learnt, best practices, and groundbreaking use cases. As a snapshot of this notion, the following make the top six leaps toward a digital mindset today. Do they ring a bell to you in your DX journey there?
1. From 0, 1, Toward Digital Infinity – The New Binary World
As the vast ocean is made from drops of water, the digital world starts from binary digits 0 and 1. This is the source for all the digital magic being produced. Some may say this sounds so simple. Keep in mind that it is simple for computers but not necessarily for ordinary people. To convert between the digital or binary environment and the real world, we have a lot of work, namely, digital technologies and skillsets, to learn, master, and invent. As addressed by this book, we also have quite some pivotal leaps to make toward a new digital mindset. When we make digitalization happen, it opens up a new world to humans. Always remember that we reach the digital world via the binary digits 0 and 1.
2. From 1st to 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) – Exponential Changes
Since the start of the 1st Industrial Revolution about 260 years ago, technological innovations and breakthroughs have catalyzed the progress of human civilizations. The Industrial Revolution meant human beings bid farewell to the manual work-intensive agricultural civilization and started to rely on technologies and mass production for development and progress. Every industrial revolution is pivoted by a major technological breakthrough: steam engine, electricity, computer, Internet, and now artificial intelligence. We are now in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) which is reshaping human and machine relationships and creating new opportunities and markets.
3. From Data to Big Data – Oil of the Digital Age
Digitalization relies on data; its power comes from data collection, processing, and analysis. As we generate and collect more data in the digitalization process, we now use Big Data to reinforce and innovate our reasoning and logical thinking process. Big data means the data source now is more inclusive and the data analytics is primarily computer powered. The right decision-making and response to things must come from deep analysis of big data. Without enough data, digitalization and new productivity in the digital age cannot take off. A lot of experts, therefore, call Big Data as the oil or new energy of the Digital Age, and that makes great sense.
4. From Hardware to Software-Defined Architecture – The Digital Way to Go
We may get used to thinking of technologies in boxes; all technologies come in some devices and equipment, such as a router, firewall device, web server, etc. But anything in a rigid and fixed structure usually lacks flexibility and scalability. For example, for a work site, due to the hosting need of a special project, we quickly need 20 more web servers to be deployed there. This can become a challenge. But if we shift the network architecture toward software-defined, we can make any capacity augmentation like the example above much easier and faster to implement. Again, the magic comes from the software’s virtual instances and centralized control of the next-generation network.
5. From Wireline to Wireless Communications- Ubiquitous Connectivity
Telecommunication is to use technologies to extend our reach of voices and data domestically and globally. This got started with cable lines; today, we still use a lot of cables for communications, especially for the network backbones. But on the access part, from the end user perspective, we can now do wireless communications or over the air without a physical cable line. This is a revolutionary change. For a consumer, it means convenience and wider service availability. To a business, mobile service can double or triple productivity because communication saves time and time is money. A wireless network makes business communication more robust, which quickly translates into higher productivity and bigger revenue streams.
6. From Human Work toward AI — Bridge to the 4IR Future
We started using digital technologies in the 3rd industrial revolution, which began in the 1970s. Now we are talking about digital transformation. One may ask, what is the difference? During the 3rd industrial revolution, we still regarded digital technologies just like some tools, such as the PC or laptop we use daily. But 4IR starts to blur the line between humans and machines. A good example is a smartphone that nearly every one of us uses today. The smartphone is not just a tool. It becomes a close partner in our daily life and work. Why is that? Because now digital technologies are integrating with human thinking and activities. A front trend of this is artificial intelligence (AI), which has become the trademark of 4IR. Have you started to use ChatGPT?
David W Wang is a renowned business development principal and evangelist of digital transformation. Mr. Wang is the author of the incoming new book “Reaching Your New Digital Heights”. David is based in Washington DC and can be contacted at ITComG18@gmail.com
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