The term digital comes from the Latin ‘digitus’, meaning fingers. Humans have been instinctively using fingers both in antiquity and today, from childhood through adulthood, to enumerate, compute, measure and solve increasingly intricate problems.
Historically, there are simple and intuitive tricks using fingers to carry out computations that allow people to concentrate on important decisions and focus on larger, more complex tasks.
As the fingers of two hands are at the base of the decimal metric system, so the computer and its abilities have allowed what we call digitization. This ability to compute even more complex systems are the foundations of the Digital Revolution, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.
These are enabling features like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Cloud Computing, Digital Twin and Additive Manufacturing. These features are changing how we work, design, produce and interact within our world, almost on a daily basis.
This radical and sudden transformation we are experiencing does not only concern the manufacturing processes, but affects everything else, including how companies are managed. The economic, social, cultural, organizational models are being challenged.
Also, in particular within ABB, the ability to communicate with physical assets brings the ability to interconnect people with the intangible:
- Qualitative indexes and numerical values
- Final production figures with market forecasts
- Streamline complex structures, simplify procedures to enhance synergies across product groups
- Optimize where people work and the allocation of their resources
- Reduce design time
- Define and directly interact with these strategies for greater efficiency
When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.
Such is the extent and speed of these changes, however, it is in fact impossible to grasp and fully predict their effects as these changes are constantly evolving. Digital technologies will increasingly and pervasively support important choices by providing the relevant data at the right time which in turn enable greater opportunity to generate new value in our work.
By freeing ourselves from simpler tasks, digitalization allows us to effectively and efficiently manage larger, complex situations. Inventing completely new capabilities also enables us to break predefined mental patterns and create new, unexpected ones, inconceivable just a generation earlier. Relying on the finger, even better on the digital one, leaves the mind free to think and innovate without boundaries.
We are living in an exciting time and need to best see how we use this opportunity to decide what to build, but either way it’s easy to see the benefits that digitalization has to offer.