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The Digital of Things

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The Digital of Things
Ronnie Cloete
Practice Head: Digital Transformation Solutions

The Digital of Things

This article is part of a series of articles centred on the theme of ‘Digital Transformation’. DVT is focused on delivering the widest range of specialist digital transformation services and solutions for every level of business. Check back soon and often for more exciting content on this rapidly changing trend.


Digital transformation is changing the way we live, but not always in a good way. Like the Internet of Things (IoT) that seeks to connect every device with a chip to every other device with a chip everywhere and anywhere, the Digital of Things (dibs on the trademark) looks to make digital, well, everything that is not.


For many it’s a first-ever opportunity to gain a new perspective on old habits; to speed things up, or even slow them down, at the touch of a (virtual) button. But for many businesses, DoT is a disruption to how they work, often circumventing decades of well-worn practices with better, faster technology at a fraction of the cost.


Forbes calls this digital disruption “the flip side of digital opportunity,” where “established companies and startups alike enlist new technologies in the fight to dislodge incumbents, protect entrenched positions, or re-invent entire industries and business activities.”


All of this talk of digital transformation and disruptive technology made me think about the DoT in my everyday life. For instance, when last did I need cash for a transaction, and is using my bank card still the best way to buy things?


Further extrapolated, how much ‘human interaction’ is still required to resolve most modern issues, queries and challenges in our daily lives, as consumers and digital citizens?


So I decided, in the spirit of all things digital, to play a game. I called it – you guessed it – the Digital of Things, with the objective of discovering if I could survive one day without using traditional purchasing, commuting, communication and lifestyle services.


The rules of the game were simple: for one day, I was only allowed to use one device – my smartphone – to go about my daily routine. For every digital task completed, I score one point, and for everything else, I lose a point. Ready? Let’s go.


Monday, 6 a.m.
I am unwillingly awakened by an annoying screech tone of my phone’s alarm app. (+1)


Monday, 7 a.m.
After my routine cereal, shave and shower, I leave for work but need a key to lock up and go. Make a mental note that a smart electronic door lock and a ‘Lock the doors Siri’ message would be a better solution. (-1)


Monday 7.02 a.m.
Exiting my complex, I have to use a remote control to open the gate. What if I was able to just tap my phone to open the gate instead? With technology like Near Field Communication (NFC) built into most smartphones, this is now a possibility. (-1)


Monday 7.05 a.m.
I order and instantly pay for an Uber to the office. (+1)


Monday 7.32 a.m.
I sit down at my desk after graciously having to request the policing receptionist to open the office door for me as I did not have my access card. A biometrics solution like a fingerprint, retina or facial recognition scanning system would make more sense. (-1)


Monday 8.05 a.m.
Two coffees and a cupcake later, my day of slavery begins (just joking boss!). I catch up with my colleagues in Cape Town with a Skype call on my phone and liaise with my fellow team members using Slack (Instant Messaging tool). (+2)


11 a.m.
Half the morning gone, it’s time to order lunch – online of course. Being a Monday, my body was craving something healthy after a weekend of fine dining at multiple drive-through establishments, so I end up ordering deep fried chicken and a soft drink using the Uber EATS app on my phone. (+1)


12.30 p.m.
After reviewing my online calendar, I noticed I had a meeting scheduled in Centurion for the afternoon. I was able to establish fare estimates and bus and train schedules by using the Gautrain app on my phone (+1), but arriving at the Sandton train station, it dawned on me that a Gautrain card is required for travelling (-1). In this case, using web and mobile technologies, it is possible to create a Gautrain account online and when arriving at the station, use your phone to ‘tap and go’ with NFC.


4.55 p.m.
Time to knock-off and pick up my daughter from school. After collecting what I thought resembled a puddle of mud on legs, we stopped off at the grocery store around the corner for supplies. I found using Snapscan (mobile POS) to pay for bags full of groceries quite convenient. (+1)


5.35 p.m.
Feeling like we needed a break from reality, I took my daughter to early evening movies. The cinema app made it possible for me to select seats, book tickets and receive a rewards discount via a quick and easy online process. (+1)


5.42 p.m.
Standing in a lengthy queue for snacks and then having to pay for it by cash or card was a far cry from the seamless online booking process. Pre-ordering and paying for snacks online would eliminate the long queues at the tills. Gru, Dru and the odd shaped yellow minions made the overall experience worth our while though. (-1)


8.15 p.m.
After streaming a catch-up series from the DStv Now app on my phone, which connected to my Chromecast (Google streaming device), it was time for bed. (+1) Closing the curtains and switching off the lights meant I had to get out of bed one more time before I could finally take my 40 winks of sleep. (-1)


If you’re keeping score, you’ll know that digital won out by three points. That means in an average day, DoT is more prevalent than not, and we’re only at the cusp of an explosion of new digital services and devices that promise to interject in every single aspect of our lives.


As a business, the opportunity is clear. Your first goal should be reaching digital maturity; with today’s technology, you should almost never have to manually make contact with your customers to deliver your products and services more efficiently.


In fact, if you play it right, you may just find that DoT is also saving you time and money while giving your customers a better experience than they had before.


Over the next few months, we’ll be covering a range of convergent and divergent topics, all based on the theme of digital transformation. These include enterprise mobility, web development, UX/UI design, data analytics and AI, testing (mobile apps and web apps), cloud services, DevOps, Agile transformation and IoT.