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Future Thinking – Digitalisation

Short thoughts on what Digitialisation means at a personal and business level

This afternon I have been asked to record a short trailer for a webinar series I am supporting in my role as Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Hull. The series, which will be launched on 7 March, is on Future Thinking, which is something I have written and talked about often.

Two questions have been posed.

1) What does Digitalisation mean to you?

2) What does Digitalisation mean to SME‘s? (is it affordable and sustainable for smaller enterprises?)

This is today’s thinking:

What does Digitalisation mean to you?

For me it’s about doing things in the digital domain instead of the physical domain.

I dislike that the particulars of my physical location constrain what I can do or be.

This is true at all levels – I want to be able to interact with my car, my lights, my music collection, without having to leave my comfy chair. I want to create and maintain relationships with the people I care about regardless of where they are in the world. I want to interact with people who share my values, interests, skills and outlook where ever they are, and not be constrained by cost or time to those within a few kilometres of where I am.

“I dislike that the particulars of my physical location constrain what I can do or be.”

It’s about liberating ourselves from our physical condition.

What does Digitalisation mean to SME’s? Is it affordable and sustainable for smaller enterprises?

The same principles apply for businesses, large or small. There are added dimensions however:

  • Digitalisation can replace capital cost with ongoing subscriptions – i.e. distributed costs that can be paid out of ongoing revenue
  • It can provide competitive advantage, providing either differentiation or providing access to markets, channels and buyers that would otherwise be impossible
  • It rewards agility and flexibility. Innovation can happen at a higher rate
  • It delivers efficiencies and productivity gains

But, there is a cost. And it’s less a financial cost than one of understanding, awareness and a need to constantly learn, adapt and anticipate what’s coming; knowing that your competitors are doing the same.

It’s more than scanning documents

“There are social and ethical considerations as well as economic ones.”

There is a lot more depth to this discussion and many examples, ranging from the well-worn path of replacing paper with globally accessible, secure and efficient digital copies, all the way through to:

  •  remote working (and how to build teams that thrive in that environment),
  • digital twins (building accurate simulacra of physical processes, buildings, machines etc.)
  • our relationships with AI (creating digital people simulacra)

There are social and ethical considerations as well as economic ones.

Digitalisation has been happening for half a century, it is accelerating, it brings great power, opportunity and great risk for us all, at every level. We will see it; our children will live it.

With great power comes great responsibility.

By Simon Hudson

Simon Hudson is an entrepreneur, health sector specialist and founder of Cloud2 Ltd. and Kinata Ltd. and, most recently, Novia Works Ltd. He has an abiding, evangelical interest in information, knowledge management and has a lot to say on best practice use of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and cloud technologies, the health sector, sustainability and more. He has had articles and editorials published in a variety of knowledge management, clinical benchmarking and health journals. He is a co-facilitator of the M365 North User Group Leeds and is Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Hull.

Simon is passionate about rather too many things, including science, music (he writes and plays guitar & mandola), skiing, classic cars, technology and, by no means least, his family.

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