What is Digital Transformation? What is Not?

July 3, 2020by inspira7_admin

Change and transformation have always existed throughout human history and will continue to do so. Just as the famous philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.”

Since the 2000s, the rapidly evolving world of technology has directly influenced our habits, work life, working methods, and thoughts. In recent years, the term “digital transformation” has become quite popular, forming the future agenda of many countries and becoming a strategic priority for many companies regardless of their industry. Although digital transformation is occupying our agenda, many people still have question marks in their minds about what it exactly is and what it does. To better understand the concept of digital transformation, let’s take a brief look at the past.

Throughout human history, there have been developments that opened and closed eras. The industrial revolution, the replacement of muscle power with steam power, the use of electricity in production, the beginning of the era of mass production and the acceleration of production processes, and the use of computers in business since the 1970s, making work more organized, have been the beginning of new transformations in our lives.

The spark that started the era of digital transformation, also known as Industry 4.0, is artificial intelligence and algorithms. However, unlike the three industrial revolutions we have gone through, digital transformation is not a technological transformation but a transformation of the way of doing business. Here, technology is a tool, not the transformation itself.

For example, among the founding stories of Ford, it is often mentioned that it started with the search for a solution to the pollution caused by horse-drawn carriages in the streets of the USA. To convert a wheeled carriage from horse power to engine power is an innovation. Ford’s use of a flowing assembly line to pass hundreds of parts through the product instead of carrying them to the product every time is an example of “digital transformation.”

This example is similar to the route algorithm used by bees to reach flowers. Scientists working at the Rothamsted Research Center in the Harpenden town of England found in their research on bees that bees calculate how to shorten the distance to the hive by going to each flower at least a hundred times to produce honey, and they reached the result that they used the initial route data obtained from the first flower to reach the next flower. Therefore, changing the way of doing business, using algorithms is the essence of digital transformation.

Examples such as Amazon’s drone delivery application that aims to deliver cargo to customers by drones in 30 minutes,

Online elections in Estonia,

Airbnb, which was founded in 2008 and has no real estate, having a market value five times larger than the world-famous hotel chain Hilton,

UBER, which has no vehicle fleet but has a higher market value than many vehicle and transportation fleets,

The reduction of civil servants working for the state channel in South Korea by 4.5% in 2018 and the digitization of paperwork, are examples of using technology as a transformation tool and demonstrating that the way of doing business is transformed. Therefore, digital transformation is the transformation of the way of doing business, not a technological transformation.

Digital transformation derives its power from innovative and unconventional technologies. Research and investments in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics are some of these. Today, not only companies but also societies are part of the digital transformation. According to research, countries such as the USA, the UK, South Korea, and Singapore are at the forefront of digitalized economies that adapt to digital transformation. In addition to these, the United Arab Emirates is also considered among the countries that are becoming digitalized due to its status as an international trade center.

So, is it necessary to be an important commercial center or an economically strong state to adapt to digital transformation and digitize the economy?

Certainly not…

Political vision, long-term strategic plans, establishing an innovation-based culture, making R&D investments, supporting production, and entrepreneurship pave the way for digital transformation as a necessity of the age we are in. Among these supports, R&D comes first…

For example, while South Korea spent 19.7 trillion Won, which is equivalent to 47.60 billion TL, on R&D activities in 2018, Turkey spent 12.95 billion TL on R&D in the same year.

A new era has begun in the world, and being fast and adapting to this transformation is very important…

Considering that it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people, television 13 years, the internet 4 years, and mobile devices 2 years, and that each technological development triggers a transformation, we understand how important it is to be fast and to be aware of the value of time.

Vinton Cerf once said, “Technological advances trigger many things. One year of the internet equals seven years of human life. In other words, it takes away seven years from your life. So, it is very fast, and it is getting faster and faster.” And he was not wrong when he said that…