How Digitization Impacts Everything

There was a time – not so long ago – when “digital” was a term used primarily to describe certain household goods or belongings. People would distinguish between analog and digital for watches, clocks, or phones.

Today, of course, digital is ubiquitous—found everywhere.

Our world has become digital. Business is digital. The way we live, socialize, work, and communicate with each other. Digitization has transformed the playing field so thoroughly and with such speed that we now talk about the Digital Revolution — a revolution just as powerful and transformative as the Industrial Revolution that swept us from the 19th century to the modern age.

If you are a regular user of NetAcad Advantage, you will have heard us talk a lot about the Internet of Everything, and how we are moving into a new reality of hyper connectivity where so many of the tools and resources are increasingly online.

Well, digitization is the wider context within which technology is impacting our world. It is about harnessing the power of the Internet of Everything – this connection of people, processes, data and things — and changing everything from the way that we work, to how we serve society and citizens, right through to how we educate our young people.

If you are working in technology or developing technical skills, you are at the seam of the digital transformation, in a sense. So it is useful to have an understanding of what this all means, how it impacts our future, and how you ride the tides of change.

What is digitization?

A good place to start is by defining what we mean by “digitization.”

At Cisco, we understand digitization to be the process of converting information into a digital format. In this format, information is organized into discrete units of data (called bits) that can be separately addressed (usually in multiple-bit groups called bytes).

Impact upon our Future

So far so good. But how is digitization transforming the future?

John Chambers, former CEO and chairman of Cisco, summarized it neatly last year when he spoke to CNBC. The Digital Age, he said, is the evolution of the Information Age of the 90s; an age that will see every country, city, home, car, everything we wear will become digital.

From a country perspective, said Chambers, digitization will be at the root of GDP, job creation, healthcare, education. Companies in the near future will all be technology companies, regardless of sector or industry. And the speed of this change, says Chambers, will be “brutal.” With up to 40 percent of global enterprises becoming obsolete in the next 10 years.

“It is a future full of tremendous opportunities, but also significant challenges in terms of disruption.”

And as 2016 kicks off, the pace of change certainly seems to be accelerating. According to Cisco’s Biren Gandhi, the key drivers of digitization – the Internet of Everything, and other elements such as drones and robotics – share a common denominator: They are all “triggers or change agents for digital transformation through their connection to the Internet.”

And the stats back him up. Only 61 of Fortunes 500 top companies of 1995 were still around in 2014. Today it is estimated that a whopping 40 percent of the Fortune 500 simply will not exist in the next decade.

That is astonishing change. And as Gandhi says, the imperative to businesses and individuals seems to be: “disrupt yourself before somebody else does.”

Now of course, with change comes opportunity. And technology has the potential to radically improve the performance and scope of business, education, day to day existence.

We are already seeing countries like France — where the tech scene is at a real inflection point —  explore and implement the tremendous opportunities that digitization offers. Cisco has recently partnered with the French government to help build out its digital infrastructure and cyber security to increase productivity, create jobs, and improve the quality of life.

Our Networking Academy program will have a key role to play in this plan, with a further 1,500 academies planned for France in the next three years — and a whopping 200,000 new students set to join the fold — in order to support tech entrepreneurship and skills growth.

Digitization has the potential to revolutionize France as we know it today. This transformation will contribute to France’s overall global competitiveness by supporting job growth, education, cybersecurity, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives.

What does all this mean for you?

Well, we have said it before: There is probably never been a better, more exciting, more challenging time to be studying, working, and upskilling in technology.

As our world changes, it is going to be important to be flexible enough to ride the tides of transformation. And focused on keeping your knowledge and skills up to date, and your eye on the opportunities generated by the digitization of everything

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