On the way to the kitchen I smell the coffee; the coffee maker rattles. “Will you get the cups,” my mother asks. The smell of lunch still hangs in the air with the scent of coffee still lingering. These Sundays remind me of my childhood. We sit back down again, and join the rest of the family. “So tell me what exactly do you do for a living nowadays,” my father asks. “We help companies with digitization. We are developing digital business mod…” I can’t get any further than that. He abruptly cuts me off. “I can’t hear it anymore: Digital this, digital that. Like that matters in any way.“ The fond memories of my childhood quickly disappear and a lump forms in my throat. I start boiling inside. He keeps talking, I don’t even listen anymore. My mother clutches her cup and stares deep into her coffee. Oh my, why are we still having these tiresome conversations I wonder? Conversations that lead nowhere. At this moment I decide that I’ve had it. I interrupt his monologue: “May I tell you a story?” He nods. My mother looks up and puts her cup down. It’s quiet.
It’s the same with digitization as it is with the radio: If you turn off the radio, the show will still continue. You just don’t hear it any longer. While we can shut ourselves off from digital change, it will still take place.
Turn on and listen
Digitization is changing the whole reality of our lives. It is a huge upheaval in the history of mankind. All your areas of life and work will be pervaded and radically transformed. Everyone is affected, and that is why everyone paints their own picture, including you. This leads to a polarization of opinions: There are the visionary, promising dream worlds and then there are dark horror scenarios, uncertainties and fears. Especially in our daily work. Much has already changed there and much more will change. So let’s listen to the broadcasts on the radio…
Listen, think along and understand
What has changed, what else will change? Only those who understand and realize what all this means for them are capable of acting. But how can you understand what is happening at such great speed? Through:
- Openness: Deal with digital-technical topics;
- Work performance: Strive to find your own points of contact and points of entry for digital topics;
- Courage: Ask, especially if you are unsure, and get your own picture of the digital age;
- Persistence: Stay tuned to digital-technical issues and solutions, if only conceptually. Stay tuned even if you don’t expect any gain in insight or knowledge — for instance what the “cloud” is all about.
It’s not enough to listen. If you want to understand what digital change means to you, then work with it — again and again. If you want to utilize digital-technical topics and solutions, then practice and try out different solutions from software to technology. If you want to help shape change, then be ready to grapple with it and act accordingly.
Thinking and acting
Digitization offers numerous tools. So in a way, it is a toolbox. Use this toolbox in your areas — e.g. your working environment, industry and life context. See where you can use digital-technical tools to make your tasks easier, find appealing solutions for your customers, develop new business ideas, etc.
Only the combination of digitization toolbox with expertise and experience of respective industries will create added value for companies. Digitally competent employees can:
- Realistically assess opportunities and challenges — e.g. in terms of dealing with new technologies, agile methods, digital approaches, etc.
- Ask and answer ethical questions — e.g. on the use and application of digital technologies or in the context of the corporate vision.
The more employees, the more citizens use the tools of digitization, the more discourse on the subject of digitization will emerge. This is important if we want digitization to be useful for all of us and not a threat. To the contrary, it is equally important for every employee, every citizen to be able to use as many digital tools as possible. This is the only way you can help shape change according to your own ideas.
The utilization of the tools is no longer in question. The development has already progressed too far; the profitable options for tailor-made products, more satisfied customers and simpler workflows are too tempting.
That’s why I give the following advice: Become digital experts and work for a humane change in our society, in your working environment. Urgent questions must be clarified, such as: What are suitable ways and means for humane work? What can a humane use of digital technologies look like in concrete terms? How can democratic decisions become possible with the introduction of new digital technologies? How do I create a more humane care system?
Starting and participating
Let’s listen to the program on the radio; let’s shape the development ourselves. Not listening is not an option! Otherwise you forfeit the opportunity to shape the digital change that has long since begun and cannot be stopped.
It’s quiet. My father looks at my mother and says: “It’s a good thing I’m so old”. Then he pulls out his smartphone from his pocket and checks the data of his photovoltaic installation.