Digitalization is inevitable. You just better enjoy it

I am in Barcelona to attend the Mobile World Congress 2018. It was good for me to break away from routine and contemplate the discussions over the world’s future. The meeting marathon kicked off yesterday morning has continued until sunset. I must say that we were also lucky enough to have nice weather.

During Sunday morning’s press conference, I listened to talks on what companies should do in the 21st century in terms of human resources policies and ve “talent management”.

“Give meaning to what you do” was maybe the most notable theme of the congress. Nevertheless, concerns about the possibility that many people will lose their jobs in the future with Artificial Intelligence’s domination over the business world were not eased.

Taking a different approach to the matter, I asked, “Did the fact that Global Companies are getting more and more digitalized introduce any innovation into decision-making mechanisms?” To be honest, I didn’t receive any clear answer to this particular question. In my experience, the decision-making mechanisms of global companies still operate with a complicated hierarchy no matter how high-tech they become. “We haven’t had any real problems so far. So why worry?”… Maybe, that’s the motto they rely on. However, if we had a high-tech device to keep track of the number of the opportunities that companies have missed because of never-reducing bureaucracy despite ever-increasing digitalization, we would definitely be surprised to see the result.

“Poverty-reducing digital transformation…”

In the afternoon, three simultaneous sessions have been held covering the following topics: additional value-added services and activities contributed by video world into the technological world, 5G potential and Digital Transformation to help release major value-added activities; ministers of some countries have attended the latter as well. I shuttled back and forth between there sessions to take notes.

Presentations given on the upcoming 5G were way too technical for an end-user like me. Session attended by ministers was quite informative, although it wasn’t very inspiring. Anyway, the numbers that the representative for the World Bank has talked about seemed quite ambitious but also impressive to me. Thanks to World Bank’s efforts for digital transformation, GDP rise in 2030 is projected at $2.2 trillion; world economy is expected to employ 140 million, and to lift 160 million people out of extreme poverty. I might say that the session on the video world, although attended by very few, was the most interesting session to me.

During the final session on the media, participants have held heated talks over how digital transformation will change the countries as well as people. I asked, “Does the financial sector make any effort to prepare itself for the new digital world, apart from fulfilling the requirements?”

“Most of the banks are aware of the inevitable change” was the answer I got to my question. My second question was, “Is the fibre optic cable a must for digital transformation?” The answer was, “Micro wave technology might be an adequate solution for areas where fibre optic cable cannot be used”. I must, however, admit that I was not quite satisfied with the answer as I know perfectly well the challenges of Industry 4.0 in terms of continuity. But I was relieved to hear that there is a plan B.

That’s the way MWC 2018 kicked off. I will continue to share my impressions of the congress until Thursday.

Prof. Dr. Emre Alkin