Digital Thinking: The analog world is our home. It is familiar and tangible. Nevertheless, we must learn to think digitally. We can approach the topic from different perspectives. There are three angles, in particular, to start with.
How do you manage to recognize the potentials and the challenges that can arise from digitization? In my opinion, you have to start “thinking in terms of digitization.” I want to point out three perspectives that help establish digital thinking in the following.
International Perspective On Digital Thinking
First of all, one should bear in mind that an international approach with a view to the challenges and the potential of the changes to come is the most promising in the future. One should not be confused by current national efforts. Many of the challenges of digitization can only be developed and mastered in an international context. This applies to retail and the exchange of information, communication, data protection, and payment systems.
And just as the challenges are solved in an international context, the opportunities will also have to be viewed digitally. In my opinion, we have to distinguish between two levels. On the one hand, entrepreneurs have to think internationally concerning developments in their own company.
For example, if you want to start a business in retail, you can’t just look for customers in your city or your own country. Instead, he has to assume that there are customers everywhere. That is why he has to orientate the customer approach and the logistics internationally. It is just as important to consider changes in digitization in an international context. This is the only way to identify new developments.
Mobile payment has now arrived in Germany. However, the technology is not yet widespread. In Kenya, on the other hand, the M-PESA payment system already had around 1.6 million users in 2008. After just one year, that’s about five percent of the Kenyan population. “International glasses” therefore help to identify opportunities and potential more quickly.
Online Perspectives On Digital Thinking
The mantra “can be used online” is just as crucial for all changes. We still think far too “analog” in many areas of our lives. We automatically think of a printed book when we talk about reading a book. When we think of a car, it goes without saying that it is an internal combustion engine. And when we talk about communication, video calls are only a makeshift solution, despite their widespread use. We prefer to speak face to face.
However, it will be less and less important whether there is still a physical experience in the future. I want to clarify that, of course, biological products are exciting. They deliver a sensory experience that cannot (currently) be mapped digitally. However, if you think ten years into the future, whether there are still personal meetings of people when they can also communicate via video calls, the Corona crisis has shown that working in the home office is easier to implement than always thought.
There are many conceivable examples. We no longer have to go to Paris or London to visit a museum. Instead, we bring the exhibit into our living room using 3D glasses. In the case of repairs, the user receives the relevant information displayed directly on the object to be repaired via augmented reality. And the surgeon no longer operates now on the patient. Instead, he uses a surgical robot that he controls from a separate room.
So if you want to position yourself for the future, you should always consider how developments can be mapped online.
Networked Perspective On Digital Thinking
The last thing we should do is start looking at changes in terms of how they look in terms of overall connectivity. On the one hand, we have to consider that all devices that will make our life easier in the future or that we need for life will be connected and thus networked.
On the other hand, we will be connected to many people. This leads to increased communication. This extends far beyond the typical circle of friends of a few people.
New Challenges For Society
New challenges arise from this all-encompassing networking. Access to devices, services, and people will be possible much faster than before. However, with faster access, there is a risk that information will no longer be sifted through, thought through, and answered in sufficient detail. The handling of personal data may be more careless.
And new challenges also arise concerning communication. Because of the networking, who is communicating with whom? Do we only talk to the “opposite” or people and machines behind them?
Finally, there remains the problem of the lightning-fast dissemination of information and data. Networking makes this easier. Ultimately, many of the hurdles to be overcome are eliminated.
It has been a long time before information was disseminated. For example, if a newspaper was used, it had to be set, printed, distributed, and read. The information in the newspaper was then usually passed on orally. Perhaps the newspaper’s content has been photocopied.
If information is disseminated via social networks today, then this information can not only be transmitted and distributed in a matter of seconds in this output channel. It is not at all foreseeable who will receive this information. Because the output information can be changed and interpreted without great effort, it is ultimately unclear which part of the original information still reaches the respective recipient.
My conclusion is simple: we finally have to think digitally – even if that means leaving the beloved analog world. Of course, this requires more than the three perspectives mentioned. But these are a start, in my opinion.