What is “digital transformation”?
The current phase that we live in is Internet 3.0 – the ubiquitous phase of the Internet – where the Internet is now enabling (and I would go so far as to say requiring) ALL companies to create new businesses and shareholder value by augmenting their current business models with digitization. Stated another way and more directly – if you’re not thinking about how to transform your business with digitization, you can bet that your competitor is doing just that – or some other start-up that licking their chops to eat your lunch (read – your current business model). ²~Jim Miller, Contributor, Forbes
What is “digital transformation”?
By definition, digital transformation, or "DX", is the process of bringing change in a business's activities to leverage the advantage that the web or digital media offers. Stated a different way, digital transformation is the intelligent utilization and implementation of digital solutions that replace old/outdated solutions within a business or organization.
Digital transformation is the application of digital technologies to fundamentally impact all aspects of business and society. But digital transformation is about more than digital products and services; it's also about the processes that create, enable, manage, and deliver them. Thinking differently is perhaps the most important ingredient in digital transformation, in fact. If you keep thinking the same, all that new technology will be used to do more of the same. That's the opposite of transformation.¹~Galen Gruman, Executive Editor, InfoWorld
In order to understand more, the definition of "digitization" is important:
Digitization is the translation, representation, and presentation of every sound, image, video, document, transaction, and measurement into a machine-readable (digital) and actionable format. The current phase that we live in is Internet 3.0 - the ubiquitous phase of the Internet - where the Internet is now enabling (and I would go so far as to say requiring) ALL companies to create new businesses and shareholder value by augmenting their current business models with digitization. Stated another way and more directly - if you’re not thinking about how to transform your business with digitization, you can bet that your competitor is doing just that - or some other start-up that licking their chops to eat your lunch (read - your current business model). ²~Jim Miller, Contributor, Forbes
The word "transformation" could denote new innovative and creative outcomes within a particular industry/business.
This could include, but is by no means limited to the following:
Agility and speed are essential to a successful digital transformation.
¹ Gruman, G. (2016, June 14). What digital transformation really means. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.infoworld.com/article/3080644/it-management/what-digital-transformation-really-means.html
² Miller, J. (2018, August 31). What Is A Digital Transformation And Why Should You Care? Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimmiller/2018/08/13/what-is-a-digital-transformation-and-why-should-you-care/#29b5d5547d35
Resources for more info:
Digital transformation will look different for every business, however, there are basic principles that are universal in nature:
- Businesses are evolving and innovating at a rate heretofore not seen, in part, due to AI.
- Disruption across industries has become the “new normal”.
- Digitally connected customers expect more, more personalized and faster.
- The future of business depends on intelligent automation and adoption of emerging technology.
We’re living in the era of web 3.0, in which IoT, AI. VR, augmented reality and robotics are the norm.
Questions to ask:
Questions all businesses who wish to remain relevant should be asking themselves:
- Beyond the business our current clients/customers do with us, what are their overall goals?
- How can we plan and change to address our customer’s future needs and desires? (Agility and personalization are mandatory).
Industries that have traditionally ignored or intentionally disregarded digital disruption, (such as banking), must soon face the reality of fintech in it’s entirety. This includes smart contracts, which many bankers couldn’t, (or still can’t), conceive of. However, it’s worth noting that while doubters, (in some cases, understandably so), may slow digital transformation, at some point in time will have to make the choice to get on board or go out of business. Agility, the ability to think creatively and go beyond customer expectations, will be key in successful transformations.
What is a smart contract?
A smart contract operates on the same principle as an "old fashioned" contract,--it's just carried out digitally by AI. It's faster, more convenient, and in many cases, due to the use of cryptocurrency, "faceless". The entire transaction takes place, intelligently, in nanoseconds. Vitalik Buterin, the 22 year old Ethereum programmer explains it beautifully:
In a smart contract approach, an asset or currency is transferred into a program “and the program runs this code and at some point it automatically validates a condition and it automatically determines whether the asset should go to one person or back to the other person, or whether it should be immediately refunded to the person who sent it or some combination thereof.” In the meantime, the decentralized ledger also stores and replicates the document which gives it a certain security and immutability. "
Suppose you rent an apartment from me. You can do this through the blockchain by paying in cryptocurrency. You get a receipt which is held in our virtual contract; I give you the digital entry key which comes to you by a specified date. If the key doesn’t come on time, the blockchain releases a refund. If I send the key before the rental date, the function holds it releasing both the fee and key to you and me respectively when the date arrives. The system works on the If-Then premise and is witnessed by hundreds of people, so you can expect a faultless delivery. If I give you the key, I’m sure to be paid. If you send a certain amount in bitcoins, you receive the key. The document is automatically canceled after the time, and the code cannot be interfered by either of us without the other knowing since all participants are simultaneously alerted.
You can use smart contracts for all sort of situations that range from financial derivatives to insurance premiums, breach contracts, property law, credit enforcement, financial services, legal processes and crowdfunding agreements.
Where to start:
Start by automating one task or service— compute, network, storage, or something else. Then share that automation with others and build upon it systematically. Over time, integrated, full-scale automation will not only become a reality, but will give your organization a competitive advantage through higher efficiency, faster DevOps, and rapid innovation. ~ The Automated Enterprise; Red Hat¹
Sources and References for more information:
¹ Red Hat. (2017, October). The Automated Enterprise. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.redhat.com/cms/managed-files/cm-automated-enterprise-e-book-f8558-201710-en.pdf