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Digital Transformation is bigger than Harvey, Irma – How can you prepare for it?

Sachin Dabir
, 18 Sep 2017
Sachinblog

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18-Sep-2017

Recently, hurricanes Harvey and Irma battered countries in North America. There was so much of destruction but due to the adequate warnings and preparations, loss of human life was minimized. There is a lot of similarity in these hurricanes and the Digital Transformation wave. We cannot stop either, but if prepared well, we can overcome the negative impact. Let’s take a look at how Digital Transformation is having an impact on our lives.

Many people are excited about autonomous or driverless vehicles. Not only cars but driverless trucks are about to be a reality soon. From technology point of view, it is certainly exciting but this development is going to have a big impact on jobs. Guess who is going to be impacted the most? According to most surveys, it is going to be the truck driver community. Not just in a small way, but in a big, big way!

Digital transformation is not just about job loss, though. There are going to be many positive effects on societies too. A lot has been written about it. These developments would help us in having better, faster (and hopefully affordable) healthcare system, would help in creating more secure environments, bring down pollution levels significantly, would lead more nature-friendly lifestyle and so and so forth. However, we also need to be ready to address the ‘autonomous trucks’ kind of impact on jobs and people.

It is not just businesses or IT infrastructure that is going to be impacted, it is going to affect people more than what we imagine. The changes are not happening only in IT field but are also impacting everything around us and hence this wave is being appropriately labeled as ‘Transformation’. In the last 25 years of my IT career, I have never seen people getting affected to this extent or in such a little timeframe. This wave of change is truly transformational.

I observe that in many countries, people are resisting these impending changes in the same way as they did during the early days of technology or automation. There are many examples, from the industrial revolution times to the technology era – when people, mostly blue collar workers, saw the impending changes and resisted them ferociously. Disruption brought about by earlier waves evened out within relatively short period of time. They created a lot more jobs, albeit there were some losses too.

The fact remains that transformative changes bring about a huge fear of job loss and uncertainty of the future. This wave has lot more impact than earlier ones. Hence there is going to be even more turbulence.

It is not just pitting technology against human skills. This wave is a lot about transforming the technology itself. It is easier to imagine the changes when human activity is being replaced with automation or by technology introduction. However, the waves of development have gathered so much momentum that now new technologies are going beyond human skills. We are talking about technical advancements that would mimic human analytics, thinking process and decision making. These changes are riding high on the shoulders of its earlier developments. Hence the effect is going to be exponential. The future is going to change at a much faster rate than it has in the past. The future is not going to be a projection of the past.
In such a scenario, it is very difficult to visualize the kind of demands it would put on human skills, the kind of jobs that would be required, the role we humans would play. There is so much uncertainty about the future.

So, should we worry and resist these changes? Certainly not. We should prepare for it.

How do we prepare? How do we make sure that we would be relevant? There is no specific answer to this, but there are surely a few guidelines that can be used to charter our journey in the upcoming turbulent times:

  • Accept that new roles and skills required might be very different than what we have
  • At work, we might not have same role all the time, we would have to be prepared to perform new roles, quite often.
  • Be prepared to learn new skills, it is going to be a continuous process.

Many companies have started re-skilling the workforce. Look at DBS for example.

  • Keep your mind open to newer ways of employment – you might not be doing a regular job, but might end up doing    need a specific work and still earn more.
  •  Feel comfortable amidst the seemingly chaotic situation.
  •  Most repetitive jobs could be replaced by machines or bots, so take a look at your current role and be prepared.

In short, there is not going to be one silver bullet to address this uncertainty. But, like the people of North America, all we need is to be prepared for the upcoming times. That way, we’ll evolve to enjoy the progressive outcomes of this Digital Transformation wave.

Sachin Dabir – Director, Ashnik


Sachin is veteran in IT industry and brings over 25 years of experience in setting up new businesses, leading high performance sales teams and executing growth strategies. He is passionate about open source and is an acknowledged leader in open source in Asia. As a founder of Ashnik he is leading the growth initiatives and taking Ashnik global. His stints in Asia, UK and USA enables him to bring unique perspective to entrepreneurship and life. His interests in writing, reading and mentoring makes him an excellent networker. Currently he is learning to be a patient father to teenage sons and striving to be a good husband. 


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