Digitization in Europe

Digital is about 60 years old

The world started to go digital in the 1960’s with a big push from IBM. In the 80’s the digital world was developed further by bringing the power of digital to every desktop in form of a PC or laptop. In the 90’s with the rise of the Internet to every home and in the early 2000 years with social media to absolutely everybody and their dog. Digitization also branched out to mobile devices and with the inception of the iPhone computer power was at hand of virtually everybody in every continent by the 2010’s

Our Industry is fully computerized

Businesses obviously ask: “What the hell are they talking about, we have computers we do online banking, we have a website, our machines run with CMC systems, the products are designed with CAD system and the processes with an ERP system.  What is the big push about digital? Even the word digital is more than 30 years old. Right. Modern businesses in most European, US and Asian countries are at that level already. Most businesses have a high level of internal computerization or digitization.

So what is all the fuss about digitization then?

We are fully digital! No – and definitely no – YOU are not fully digitized. Your processes are as old as 30+ years. Your customers do not play any significant part in your processes and the degree of automation that helps customers versus automation that helps your internal organization  is roughly 100:1 in our organization’s favor. So what is digitization then?

I feel sorry but it is a misleading term, that has never been even explained in Europe and is absolutely NOT used in the US. Most of us in Silicon Valley has at least a smile with a sorrow face about Europe. But in the US economy that is actually completely down with no idea how to fix it is thankful for any confusion outside the US to give them time to find ways to fix the country. Unlike in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s where top notch US business people flew to Europe and showed them how to use computers, how to connect them in LANs, how to do e-commerce, how to use the Internet and how to do social media – absolutely nobody come to show us “digitization”. Why? The term does not exist. Google for “Digitization in the US” or “Obama and digitization” you will notice there are only a low number of findings and the content has nothing earth shattering.

Can we call the “digitization” push OFF? Please NO.

Yet there is a reason why Europe needs a weak-up call and the term “digitization” was just a word – unfortunately not explained too well. Compared to the US and now even in super fast growing China, what we call DIGITIZATION is ahead of Europe – again. Why?  Because Europeans follow advice and when reading the explanations that describe digitization or sometimes digitalization, it is so abstract and completely useless that people find their own way into something that is actually 180 degree opposite of the purpose of digitization: completely networked activities. Now – if I describe the term in my way I would do what many others do and at the end we have thousands of interpretations. Therefor I’d rather describe the effects of digitization in our normal day to day lives and in our businesses.

I will do that in the next post.

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