The impact of Digitization on society
What are the positive effects of digital transformation?
“Replace the process,not the person.“
The phrase Digital Transformation is known to most of us by now, whether a private citizen or an employee or a business owner. As the HR manager of an IT company that is committed to transforming the client’s business process, I must agree that the move to digitization is inevitable for every business, for the simple reason that every business today uses some form of IT.
It can be seen that although people are accepting the need for digital transformation, there is a climate of confusion and apprehension about this subject. There is a feeling that automation is going to replace people and jobs will be lost. (One statistic says that job losses across the globe caused by digitalization will go from 2 million to 2 billion by 2030). While the impact of change cannot be denied, it must not be forgotten that despite the natural concern arising from such statistics and situations there are mitigating factors that should be kept in mind as well:
- Replacing a role or a process is not the same as replacing a person. The human contributions rather than becoming redundant will become different ie will change their shape and form. So, although the intimidation factor is natural, we must remind ourselves that the ability to adapt is also natural. Consider how a calculator can add or subtract much faster than a human being. Is the calculator smarter than the human being? Of course not! A calculator is just a tool. So, it is with every phase of digital transformation. At the junior levels automation gives the worker a safer and more efficient way to do his job while at the managerial level there is more efficiency in supervisory roles and in decision-making. So the adjustment period is necessary, but after that the change will benefit everyone – and not just the top layer.
- The phrases like ‘artificial intelligence’ can be misunderstood and therefore create apprehension. As an HR manager, I would say that true intelligent thought is possible only for a human being. Machines can be made to ‘simulate’ this intelligence through various algorithms, provided they have enough data, but it should not be forgotten that these algorithms were created by people and the data is also collected and organised by people. Only people have the ability to make decisions, only people have intuition and judgement and experience. So the reaction of worry is misplaced. Rather, the worry should be about not using the best tools available or about being slow to adapt. So the best tools, things like AI, machine learning, etc. should be used, not feared.
- Automation makes work much safer, both physically and emotionally. As human beings we are used to error, we get tired and so on. At first we can be uncomfortable with something which does not have the same weaknesses as us. But we can look at it another way – if the day to day tedious work is done without error, then people are freed up to develop higher skills and better themselves. Is that not an opportunity rather than a problem?
- Trust becomes both easier and harder with digitization. On one hand, we are called to ‘trust’ machines to do work without making mistakes or misusing the information we provide. On the other, we have all heard horrifying stories about leaks and security breaches. Yet still there is no decrease in ecommerce culture or online lifestyles. So considering the various trends and patterns observed over the last two decades, the bottom line seems to be that as long as the convenience factor that digitization brings in is high enough, people will be willing to take a little risk.
To sum up, the journey of digitalization is the conundrum of our age. Yet, we have no choice but to accept it. It seems that there are a lot of both pros and cons in the minds of people about digitization, some are valid and some are groundless. I personally believe we should focus on the pros and use our human ingenuity to create solutions for the cons, and that means psychologically being prepared or changing our lifestyle a bit, which is something that most of us are very well geared to do.
Read another post: A Matter of Trust