The Window to Digital Transformation is More Open Than Ever
At Porsche, digital innovations and technological progress are important drivers for the future of the company. Digital transformation is changing not only our cars, but all areas of our organization and the way we work. As change never succeeds alone, but only together, we asked experts outside of Porsche how they perceive the upcoming challenges and changes. Osman Dumbuya, founder of Incari, a Berlin-based software provider developing future-based HMI systems in various industries, describes what positive impact new technologies can have on the development of society and why new narratives are needed.
The Coronavirus pandemic is a good time to think about change. On the one hand, many of us have a feeling of stagnation: nothing changes, nothing seems to move, there is a lack of beautiful moments that stand out as worth remembering in the grey soup of everyday life and life stretches out beyond the horizon. At the same time, this pandemic makes it clear that everything we experience is permanently subject to change — a realisation that we have often suppressed in the Western European security bubble of the past few decades. How we face change is often tied to our experience and our expectations. I actually believe that my own life-changing ‘upheaval experience’ — I emigrated from Sierra Leone to Berlin as a child — shaped me very early on in my attitude towards change: I have the desire and the conviction that change can be shaped.
The area I am focusing all my passion and experience on helping to shape is one that is of great importance for our society: digital transformation. In my estimation, the shift from the analogue to the digital world holds the key to a freer, fairer, more sustainable and more inclusive society. Of course, digitalisation can also lead to the opposite consequences: technologies can convey the feeling of being left behind, they can promote social division and thus a divided public, and they can fuel people’s fears. It is precisely this range of possible outcomes — especially of disruptive technologies — that makes active management of the change process necessary.
But how can you shape something as socially transformative as the digital transformation?
First and foremost, by starting: the Coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath accelerated the process of transformation by about seven years, according to a McKinsey study. When asked why they had not implemented changes before the crisis, most companies answered that they had not been a priority. In second place among the obstacles to change was the fear of customer resistance. Companies only overcame these concerns when it was clear that the benefits exceeded the costs. It is precisely this lever that we must also apply to the entire digital transformation. As tech companies, we have to reduce the fears that inhibit digital transformation. We have to act as a kind of social change manager who increases acceptance of the change process.
Because resilience to change is growing as a by-product of this pandemic, the opportunity for this process has never been greater.
It is also clear that many small individual narratives will be needed at all levels — from schools and administration to mobility and value creation structures — in order to perpetuate a social narrative of the positive benefits of digital transformation that can triumph over people’s fears. To this end, subjects such as digital maturity and sovereignty, and the opportunities of individual projects such as Open Data, must move more strongly onto the social agenda. In my opinion, education about and for digital transformation is a prerequisite for bringing all areas of society along with us — but right now it isn’t being taught frequently enough.
I can offer one of these narratives, which pays into the thesis of technology as a world-improvement tool:
The Incari Story
With Incari Studio, we have developed innovative software that allows designers and developers to work together on the development of human-machine interfaces (HMI) from prototyping onwards. This may not seem particularly spectacular at first, but it is. Because designing HMIs is very time-consuming and cost-intensive, development processes have so far focused on only a few design variants. Our software, which is designed for the three-dimensional design of HMIs, shortens this process by up to 70 percent, thanks in part to its interfaces to other systems. This leaves much more time for the design and differentiation — for example of cockpits, whether in the automotive, aviation or maritime industries.
New technologies must be measured by their added value
One thing is clear: new technologies can no longer do without added value in their customisability, their intuitive use and the involvement of more and more users. Not only since the Coronavirus pandemic — but certainly accelerated by it — has the need for developments that incorporate the real needs of users been increasing sharply. This means that there is concrete demand for technologies that help us to get to grips with the climate crisis as one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, that balance economic inequalities, that take account of the diversity of people and include them in their design and/or that help people to live more freely, whether digitally or analogue. Many of these technologies already exist. We just need to tell people about them.
Learn more about all facets of Porsche’s digital transformation and beyond in the other episodes of our guest article series. In the next guest article, Lena Rogl illustrates the connection between empathy and innovation. In line with this topic, the last article by Lunia Hara revealed why structural change can only work with empathetic leadership.
About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we are developing new digital products and services — always with our customers in focus. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, emerging technologies, and the people that drive our digital journey. If you want to know more, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.