Digitalization: What is hype, what is reality?
Interview with Dr. Carlos Forlenza, Head of Information Engineering, and Benjamin Ammon, Marketing & Brand Communication about the reality of digitalization
BA: The term "digitalization" is now on everyone's lips. In one sentence, what does it mean for you?
CF: The conversion of analog procedures and values into digital formats and processes with the help of new technologies. However, the term digitalization also stands as a basis for a digital transformation.
BA: Exciting. Now the counter-question: How can digitalization quickly be misunderstood? What is it not?
CF: Unfortunately, many people believe that digitalization is achieved by installing software, using a database or a computer. These are necessary but not sufficient tools; it is more about digital formats, data flows and processes. Hence the confusion. But what it certainly is not is synonymous with AI or digital transformation, because digital transformation can also involve new ways of thinking and digital business models.
BA: I can imagine that the demand for digitalization consulting in the mobility industry is very high. What are currently the most popular topics?
CF: Strategies and implementations of programs for digitalization or digital transformation, IoT solutions, analysis and forecasting tools, real-time visualizations of data flows, digital twins, AR and predictive maintenance.
BA: The issue of digitalization is also strongly influenced by cultural change. Are the majority of customers and their management sufficiently receptive to this topic? Or do you still have to do a lot of persuading for this change?
CF: There is still a need for intensive transformation work or, as I would like to define it more precisely, for cultural evolution. It is not automatic to change the way of thinking of an entire organization, and we must accompany it by facilitating this big step with our experience.
BA: Digital competence is a process and not a state, a never-ending journey, so to speak, especially in today's fast-paced world. How do you manage to keep your finger on the pulse of time?
CF: Yes, it's like you say, the digital competence has been increasing rapidly over the last decades and things that were previously thought to be impossible are being made possible at a very fast pace. To know about the advancements in the technology involved is by itself a fascinating treat to the mind and there are many fields of study that can provide us with the knowledge and the skills we need. Innovating and implementing new digital technologies in business can help not only the growth of business but also of our expertise and capabilities as well. That’s why it's very important to stay up-to-date, for example, through reading, events, training and professional networks. In my specific case, having my own laboratory at home where I can experiment helps me a lot.
BA: Finally, if you look into the crystal ball: What does the future of the mobility industry look like for you in 10-15 years?
CF: I would like to be able to say ... warp impulse and teleportation, but we'll leave that to science fiction. Within 10 or 15 years I see a new quantum-computing landscape, intelligent transport networks, connected by nodes, offering mobility with automatism, autonomy, sustainability, speed, robotics and service quality.
BA: An interesting look into the future. Thank you very much for the interview!
Dr. Carlos Forlenza, born in 1962, has been Head of the Information Engineering specialist team in DB Engineering&Consulting since June 2019. As an experienced technology consultant, he brings with him not only new knowledge but also 30 years of international experience in the technology business and as an expert coach of the Innovation Council of the European Union in Brussels.