Sea/ spoke with M. Nadia Vincent (née. Marie Nadia Vincent), MBA, Digital Transformation Executive Advisor, Senior IT Management Consultant and Author, about what sparked her interest in digital transformation over two decades ago as well as discussing the Digital Age.
You’ve worked in the digital transformation sphere for over 20 years in various guises, what first ignited this passion?
It all started at university where I was studying Business Management. During my degree, computing started gaining traction, so I decided to join some classes and soon discovered a love for the technology. The world wide web was a huge innovation and disruption at that time. This peaked my curiosity and so I decided to also major in Technology. I could see the enormous potential that this offered, particularly to business. Since then, I have combined business and technology in my professional work.
As an industry veteran, how has Covid-19 impacted the adoption of digital transformation?
Digital transformation isn’t new. We first started hearing about the digital solutions in the 90s. Then it started building momentum in the 2000s with each decade ushering unrivalled opportunities. I remember businesses started to take note of the power of digital technology at the same time; implementing small steps to streamline their operations. Then, around 2010 there was a boom in digital – it become transformative.
For the last 10-15 years, although many sectors have vigilantly kept one foot in the Industrial Age and the other in the Digital Age, I have worked with many organisations to educate them on the urgency to move to a fully digital business model in order to survive. Then Covid-19 happened, and it is worse than we could have anticipated. The repercussions of the pandemic have left an indelible mark across the globe, forcing many sectors to accelerate their digital transformation strategy. Prior to this, many industries could not accept that the world was transitioning to digital and struggled to have a digital vision.
Last year during an interview, I made a fortuitous predication that this year there would be a digital tsunami where organisations would have to shift to digital business models. However, I thought that the catalyst would be new business innovations, not a virus. This year has indeed seen a digital tsunami because Covid-19 has created an urgency for organisations to finally shift to a digital business model or fail.
In your book, you write about the Digital Age – what is it and why is it called the second Machine Age?
There are two phases of the Digital Age. The first phase is the first Machine Age which utilises machines for man-power – this is where we use computers to type documents and machinery to accelerate the production cycle in factories however, they still required human intelligence for control and decision making. The second Machine Age is where the computer becomes smart using artificial intelligence (AI) or machine-learning (ML). In many cases the human role becomes partly redundant, enabling the human counterpart to upskill or be redeployed elsewhere in the business to complete more demanding tasks that require more complex creative thinking.
Humans need not worry about being replaced as we have incomparable intelligence compared to a computer. We should capitalise on artificial intelligence and upskill to achieve optimum results. Human and artificial intelligence are complementary of one another. When humans and machines work together, they accomplish much more than they would independently. As a result, businesses have more chances to flourish and achieve incredible success. This is truly when we see digital transformation come to fruition.