We often think of digital transformation as something that will happen in the future, at our workplace. But digital transformation is something that has been around for a while. It’s crept up on us and most of us and haven’t noticed it. It’s perspective, right? The younger generations have perceived little to no digital transformation — there’s just digital revelation. They don’t know any different.
There are still some things in my life that remain stubbornly analog. My dog wakes me up in the morning, I ride to the station on my mechanical bike. My coffee comes from a machine that uses steam. I lock my bike with a metal key.
Is digital transformation making me more productive, more relaxed, better informed and more content in work and life? To a certain extent, perhaps. But I am blessed from birth with a happy disposition. Sure, I feel better when my watch tells me I slept well. But generally speaking, whether something is digital or analog does not have a bearing on my enjoyment of life. Others, however, are not so lucky. It is well-documented that mental health problems in young people have increased, often linked to the “always on” way of life and the pressures of constant digital exposure in the form of communication apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and regular email.
So, what about the positives of digital transformation? Well, my hockey club’s financial position has improved because subs and match fees now get collected via apps. It’s easier to find information using Google, Netflix and Spotify and only at trivia night at your local pub — where mobile phones are banned — do we find out who really knows their stuff. I can watch my favorite television programs when and where I want. Splitting bills (going Dutch) is not so awkward anymore with Venmo and PayPal.
From a business perspective, digital transformation is overwhelmingly positive, when you think about the impact on individuals. My contacts are no longer saved in a rolodex. Communicating with colleagues is faster and easier. With M-Files, I can find the information I need with a couple clicks.
Circling back to our personal lives, though… Abraham Maslow got it right with his Hierarchy of Needs. At a very basic level, what makes us happy is food, drink, clothes and shelter. Oh, and reproduction. After that, it’s personal security and health. And, in that respect, technology has certainly helped to banish some horrible illnesses from the planet. Most of us live longer while enjoying better health and hopefully this will also start to benefit the countries of the world with fewer resources. Once we have all that, it’s family, friends and a fulfilling life that makes us happy. It was the same for the cavemen when they enjoyed chewing on a dinosaur bone in a warm cave with their loved ones and it will be the same for the space-hopping, genetically modified cyborg creatures of the future.