In a conversation with a colleague the phrase “be digital or be digitalised” emerged and it started me thinking. The discussion of the 3 laws of digitisation can be summarised in this simple phrase. We all need to look for the activities that can be digitalised and/or automated. This leads to the question, how? This is where we need to become a little savvier than just being the annoying person pointing out that all these activities will be digitalised. A little more subtlety here. Whilst many things can be digitalised does not mean the should or will. There is a cost associated with the effort for digitalisation and unless there is an adequate return, it might be best to leave this in a non-digital form.
As a simple example, it light switch can be replaced by a digital switch. However, most homes have kept this as a manual switch. You might switch the light on a few times a day and the switch is in a convenient location so the cost and disruption would be difficult to justify. However, in an office where lights are left switched on, an automated switch with motion sensor could reduce the energy usage. There is a clear rationale and many offices have made this change. There will also be a group of people who say that they forget to switch the light off at home in the morning and they have returned on the evening to find the light has been on all day. For them, you could argue a digital switch, with motion sensors and the ability to check the status of the lights in the house may be justifiable. Also, you might prefer a range of lighting options – the colour, the brightness, which parts of the room are lit etc. Whilst you could imagine a bank of switches to control this range of settings, it would be much simpler to create a digital control and so digitalisation would be appropriate.
The march of digitalisation is moving at an ever-accelerating pace and we need to stay ahead of this if we are to continue to gainfully employed. Activities in our work and personal life will be changed through digitalisation. We have a choice of deciding to wait for this to happen and then respond or we can be the ones driving the digitalisation. There is no right or wrong here, it is a choice we all have to make. My concern is that lack of awareness of the potential for digitalisation results in a sudden shift and creates unexpected disruption. This is where we need the most help. Being aware of the current possibilities, and challenging yourself to spot the opportunities for digitalisation is a vital skill for survival in the digital economy. Where do you start? Simply start by asking your colleagues, on a regular basis could we accelerate or simplify what we are doing through digitalisation?