Maybe if you are familiar with my current title at work (Digitalization Coordinator), you might find it understandable, that talking about digitization and digitalization would not be my favourite past time activity.
Having said that however, I wan to highlight that my lack of gravitation towards the topic is not because I want to entirely forget about my work outside the office -au contraire-, but simply because I think there is enough talking already and not enough concrete action.
About 99% of all articles and blogs discussing internal digitalization of a company seem to revolve around the same topics; top level engagement, culture change, demolish barriers and silos, lean, people centric IT etc. Some put more emphasis on one thing some in other.
With than being said, if there is something I would personally need to highlight, is that despite the tech klang in the exercise, digitalization is essentially about the people and the culture. Some of you might disagree with me, but it is these previously mentioned two that make the digitalization initiatives difficult.
Whilst the private sector have their own set of problems (in most cases related to their legacy one way or another), In public sector on their behalf, institutions are gridlocked with the lack of options how to make their labor adapt to the new demands. A bit of competition wouldn’t hurt either even if I am not a 100% privatization evangelist.
Trying to escape the sometimes depressive day-to-day questions of digitalization, let us take this topic to a few steps higher. Directly speaking, to me personally, digitalization is a small branch growing from a much bigger global or maybe even universal tree trunk. That tree of a phenomenon, is the decentralization of information and power.
In short the disruptors (non digital too) typically diminish the importance of institutions that previously have had the privileged to gather, control, access, and distribute information centrally. These institutions then typically exploit this privileged to information to their best interest. Exploitation however, is accepted as long as there are no other options.
With a disruptor changing the game, acceptance turns easily into resentment speeding up the change and maybe makes up the time lost in the losing battle of the old establishment. By the way, did I hear someone say something about the self regulating Finnish taxi association? Maybe you could turn to church for some pep talk – and don’t worry, you will not be alone. Others will follow, even institutions bigger and much holier than you.
Why are we talking about this now?
It seems that the society seems to change both gradually, but also in more significant leaps. Looking at the push factors, these bigger leaps are seem to be caused by advances in technology (technology: systematic treatment of an art, craft or a technique) and innovation.
You can reach as far back as you want to highlight the importance of some really fundamental concepts as the wheel, but maybe I should just pick out a few random examples like standardization started by Colt (sometimes it’s pretty obvious, I have an engineering background -too, that is) or the Gutenberg’s printing press.
The latest push towards another paradigm shift has the ever so amazing Internet as the head disruptor, with affordable technology as a mighty side kick and a lively entourage of their children IoT, Robotization, Mobile Devices et al. I bet this previously mentioned tough bunch is still gaining momentum, making me partly excited partly doubtful what will come out of this.
In the pull factor side on the other half to fuel the change, is most obviously greed. Looking at more concrete issues, perhaps one driver is the demographic structure of the western world countries having their dependency ratio turing belly up – or maybe we have finally started to worry about sustainability.
Where are we going then?
Whilst seeing a lot brighter future for example in enhanced telecommunication solutions to stop all unnecessary physical traffic of both people but also services and things (3D printing -another cliché, but let’s just say this for SEO sake, hah!) or in automation to free people from work more natural to machines – just like with steam engines, there are some really difficult questions to be asked about the distribution of wealth.
As the relation between capital and labor is destined to change, my thoughts seem to always lead towards some kind of unconditional basic income. Now, before getting all excited about not willing to support “slackers and other nogooders” on social support, please bare in mind that people with nothing to lose take big risks. If this issue is not being correctly addressed, the outcome will be learned the hard way.
Despite some possible setbacks and thereby also some inevitable misery on the way, in future I see a more open and equal society ahead that has restored our connection to our environment in a sustainable way.
Maybe the brighter future will make a good topic for a future blog! -what do you think?
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