Digital Transformation and IoT-Can we just agree on what they are?

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Zaki Mohammad

Digital Transformation and IoT-Can we just agree on what they are?

Throughout my business career and life in general, I've noticed that a majority of the time one comes across terms that are so buzzy, we do not know how to pin them down (imagine a bee in a matchbox for audio effect). In this case, it’s the phrases ‘Digital Transformation’ and ‘IoT. I am reminded of the aphorism from Socrates, “the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to provide a technical definition of Digital Transformation, nor IoT for that matter. Rather, I would like to bring some context to these two super buzzwords.

Digital Transformation

There is a reason our logo at DTI looks like a butterfly. It is one of most powerful and endearing examples of transformation in nature, aka the journey of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly and good story material for many children’s books. In a business and industry context, transformation is not new and is almost a natural phenomenon.

In fact, if you have not been living on another planet, you are aware our world, society, work and personal lives are being severely impacted … no, disrupted. Some of this is already predicted by various futurologists of our times from Alvin Toffler to Ray Kurzweil … we're live in interesting times. We are in the midst of rapid changes to the way we live, work, and orient to the world – from smart and connected thermostats that automatically adjust to our patterns, to self-driving cars and AI-enabled personal assistants. This shift will be unlike anything we have experienced before. Some of you probably refer to this as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (sorry to poke a definition, but it’s not really).

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now the Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, which is characterized by the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds of life and society in general.

Like previous revolutions, new businesses are being created that take advantage of technological advances, and existing organizations must completely rebuild their business models to remain competitive in an increasingly digital environment. When we talk about digital transformation, we’re referring to this Fourth Revolution – in other words, the radical change caused by the application of digital technology to all aspects of society. I use another word, Digital Paradigm, but I am not the first to use it. In fact, Digital Transformation is just a fancy word of ‘transformation’ which has been happening as we progress up each step on the Industrial revolution ladder.

Internet of Things

So where does the Internet of Things (IoT) fit in all of this? Its pretty simple: IoT is simply the Digital Transformation of things. Think about the magic brooms from the Disney movie Fantasia whereby they become animated by magic, having sprouted thin, brown arms and four fingered hands as a result, their bristles forming their ‘legs’, all of which helps these magic brooms to act as artificial automatons in the pursuit of cleanliness.

In a way IoT is no different (minus the magic part, although a time traveler from the middle ages may disagree). IoT is really the enchantment of everyday objects. In the IoT context, the magic stardust, in this case, is Data, lots and lots of Data. It is Data which brings these to ‘things’ to life. This is made possible by attaching a sensor to a physical object (whether a tiny one like a pill that goes through your body, or a very large one like a plane or building), it starts functioning a lot like any other digital entity. It emits data about its usage, location and state. It can be tracked, controlled, personalized and upgraded. And, with the right analytics, it can become intelligent, predictive, and collaborative. The intelligence derived from this data allows the Digital Transformation of products and everyday objects.  This effect triggers a domino effect which result in, dare I say, transformation of businesses, business models, consumer tastes. Therefore, IoT or Digital Transformation of Things is really a subset of Digital Transformation in the Business and Industrial context, which itself is a subset of a larger shift throughout Society, aka the Digital Paradigm which we are living through.

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Kimberly Watson

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Kimberly has been programming and database-ing since the days (and nights) of Skittles and Jolt Cola. After years helming her own business developing technical software, her focus shifted to technical training and content development to help learners quickly adapt to an increasingly digital world.

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Zaki Mohammad

Chief Transformation Officer

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Zaki's unique decades long career evolution starting as an Accountant, CCIE certified Systems Engineer, Solution Architect, Entrepreneur, Instructor, Course Developer, Conference Speaker, Data Scientist and AI subject matter expert leading successful consulting and project engagements.

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