During the last few weeks I could participate in many interesting meetings, conferences and projects. All those occasions gave plenty opportunities for interesting discussions regarding many diverse topics with different groups of people participating. My conversational partners were students, IT Professionals (Oracle and Non-Oracle related), Oracle Product Management, friends and family. One topic which stood out, either direct or between the lines, was the state of digitalisation in everyday (work-)life. During this article, I want to recap some impressions andI want to recap some impressions and share my personal opinion on how to kick off a digitalisation journey.
Digitalisation in Everyday Life
On the one hand, I think digitalisation already arrived in everyday life. Within this respect, I am not necessarily speaking of those fancy digitalisation projects every IT professional wants to work on. In my opinion digitalisation started with production process automation, the World Wide Web, emails, digital calendars and every tiny application (mobile or not) which simplifies everyday tasks. These days I do not go to the ticket office to book my train tickets. I do everything online and have it right there on my phone or AppleWatch. No printing, no standing in a queue, everything in my hand on the couch or while I walk to the train station. Another example is the application of continuous delivery and integration we pursue at esentri AG. A couple of years ago building, testing and deploying a new application release was mainly a manual process. With continuous delivery techniques, this build process is designed in a digital representation and its execution is automated. This results in shorter build and feedback cycles, less errors and overall reduces time required and therefore costs. Finally, I have the pleasure to experience our digital internal processes at esentri every day. By automating internal processes, we freed up more time for tasks that actually count for our employees’s personal and the company’s success.
On the other hand, I meet many people, I would even say the larger amount, which follow a more traditional way of organising and getting task done or situation in which I think that this should have been digitalised years ago (see picture below). In my experience, people not interested in or fighting against digitalisation fall into three categories.
The first group has no relation to IT at all and is not interested in how it works or how it can support them in daily life. Most encounters with technology were rather frustrating. Why should you use it at all, an analogue notebook and a calendar fulfil tasks as good as if not even better. Representatives of this group are quite diverse including family, close friends and loose contacts. One could imagine that younger people are more used to digitalisation and its benefits, but I am always astonished how many digital natives are not able to configure and use some (for me) basic functionality on their smartphone or PC. The second group I encounter frequently are people whose jobs were affected by digitalisation already. They used to work in an area which got digitalised and are now trying to find a new place within this world. Finally, group three are fighting digitalisation. The two most prominent motives are fear of losing their jobs to digitalisation and preservation of the status-quo.
How to Start Your Digitalisation Journey
As I already stated above, in my opinion digitalisation already arrived in everyday (work-)life. Techniques and approaches matured in recent years and with affoardable hardware and computing power, thanks to matured “as a Service”-Cloud offerings, it becomes more and more feasible to digitise everything. Currently we are just at the beginning of a fascinating and disrupting journey of digitalisation, both in respect of technology and business. However, many consulting and product companies already draw a picture that everybody should have started digitalisation yesterday and you are basically dawned if you are not fully digitised yet. But it is not entirely too late, you can still survive if you just buy product X or service Y. This will help you to optimise your processes, reduce errors, overall save costs and gain that competitive advantage. Now take a second and imagine how digitalisation deniers feel when their management explains them the reasons and digitalisation strategy they are putting into place with immediate effect. Scary and not really comforting.
Although I comply with the opinion that companies and people will not survive for long if they do not get used to digitalisation, organisations make big mistakes when implementing digitalisation strategies.Often they start with well working manual processes and forget to give their employees a perspective besides costs savings and optimisation. However, it is important to identify a good point to start your digitalisation journey, plan as much as necessary depending on the number of people you are starting this journey with and provide everybody with a perspective how she or he can get involved and what their role will be at the end of this fascinating trip.
I already said that we are at the beginning of a great journey and we should at least do some planning and learning before we start head first. There are many manual processes implemented in private and professional life which work properly as they are and even better than many rashly and poorly implemented digitalisation solutions that some of us might already have encountered. Therefore, my proposal for a proper digitalisation strategy is as follows:
- Identify areas for digitalisation initiatives which are known to be problematic and find working and innovative solution to improve. Processes do not work properly and probably never did, so why not try with a radical change?
- Involve all people within this area to understand current problems and develop a solution with these domain experts. Do not forget to involve your IT domain experts of choice!
- Show how digitalisation can improve the process and everyday duty for everyone involved.
- Implement a working solution, learn and spread the word. Make everyone want innovation through digitalisation.
- Apply process to other areas and keep on getting better each time.
Digitalisation @esentri – https://www.esentri.com/leistungen-digitalisierung/