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Digital transformation is about to get a hole new meaning

Digital transformation has been a bit of a buzzword for a while and essentially means "a novel use of digital technology to solve traditional problems" according to Wikipedia and I'll settle with that as a definition for now.

Panopticon

Supporting evidence #1

In the the last week or so I have read and listened to a number of articles that started with a Liz Sharp's post on linkedin: "The Most Hyped Technology of Every Year From 2000-2018". The article tracked emerging technologies and looked at the media coverage each one attracted and then looked at if it had lived up to the hype.

We had a discussion about this in which I said:

It's an interesting observation - all be it rather predictable - and somewhat missleading. The headline grabbing, emerging technologies are fairly predictable with a surge of interest, but in reality much of this is media lead and as such today's newspapers are tomorrows fish and chip wrappers.

I'll give you an great example:

Web 2.0 is the name used to the describe the second generation of the world wide web, where it moved static HTML pages to a more interactive and dynamic web experience. Web 2.0 is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online via social media, blogging and Web-based communities. The internet marketing companies coiled this phrase circa 2005 / 2006. Microsoft launched Active Server Pages (ASP) 1996 more or less at the same time Personal Home Page (now know as PHP) were first launched and allowed developers to create HTML pages on the fly and in essence create websites that could be considered Web 2.0 (some 10 years before the media got hold of it). The media and marketeers coined the phrase and soon after the end user grew bored ...

I can think of numerous terms, trying to promote a company "in the cloud" (one of my pet hates)!

I know terms like "the cloud" helps people understand a complex technology, but in my opinion these phrases show a lack of fundamental understanding, as people rely more and more on Google for answers, without gleaning an true understanding. At the risk of sounding like an old man, I worry that in times of change, this lack of knowledge of dangerous and I find it genuinely scary!

Supporting evidence #2

The next article I stumbled upon was Daniel Colin James's post This is How Google will?Collapse. It caught my eye, can't imagine why ...

Daniel built a picture up, covering the last ten years of how Google keep missing the shifting behaviour of technology and their users and makes a rather excellent case for Sundar Pichai missing a critical moment as Amazon jumped on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Have a read of the article, as Daniel makes some excellent observations and shows how an organisation like Google could topple ... And before you say, "nan that ain't possible", you only have to caste your memory back to September 2008 when the entire banking sector almost collapsed!

Supporting evidence #3

Whilst driving to a meeting yesterday I heard Start the Week with Ian McEwan talking about his new book - Machines Like Me - that looks at what makes us human and asks: could a machine understand the human heart. His discussions included reference to Alan Turing and The Turing Test - a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human - amongst many other topics that showed the authors knowledge and deep understanding of the topic.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is huge, almost comprehensible to most!

AI and robotics have been around a while now, after all Jacques de Vaucanson invented robot devices in the 1700s and Alan Turing created the Turing machine in 1936 (just two examples).

Butterfly effect

So, why does this lead me to the digital transformation itself is about to undergo a huge change?

Well, it's all about the context with the changing environment of data protection - another day another data breach - (a phrase that people that follow me will no doubt recognise), protectionism (Brexit, Donald Trump vs China), legislation trying to close the stable door long after the social media horse has bolted the stable and global businesses like Google, Amazon, Facebook and alike now almost too big to topple, or are they (see earlier reference to Daniel's article)?

Underlying all of this are the emerging technologies - Artificial Technology (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and many more and where are our leaders; well they squablling about a divorce from Europe, so are currently distracted. Yes, a white paper was published last week about protecting children online - online harm - and yes the ICO have told Facebook to reduce nudging techniques (reduction of likes), but this are infinitesimal changes when compared to AI.

We are about to see a technological revolution and if you blink you'll miss it, as it has already started! Don't get distracted by symptoms like big data (yawn) or other phrases people coin and then use for marketing their own agenda, see the big picture: the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

Conclusion

Organisations have under gone a transformation from pen and paper to computer, but the one that they are about to embark on is far greater a challenge and will impact every single one of us.

The risks are far greater and the power far more attractive to the player, be it the cyber security company that wants to protect your data or the service that wants to give you all the answers ...

Ian McEwan explained why he intentionally set his book in the 1980s as I have to agree with him, but perhaps for different reasons ... I believe the revolution has began and slowly building up momentum and distrating us from what is happening in front of our eyes as we stare down at our smartphones!

Date: 17/04/2019

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