Our society has been riding on the waves of digitalization and moving forward in an unprecedented speed. How can we cope with it?
Editor's note: This article is based on Roger Huggler’s speech at Renggli Talks “Digitalization & Art” on 10th March 2020. Sophie Xiying Liu has summarized it.
Impacts of digitalization on the society
With the wave of the mobile web started around 2007, the internet has reached almost every part of our life, from entertainment to communication, education, online payment, etc. Now we have entered the next wave of Internet of Things (IoT) and virtualization, which are marked by cloud technology, smart data usage, virtual system and network, etc. In the coming years, I expect more extensive uses of artificial intelligence (AI), personalization and automation when the network development can further improve the data use. All these new changes will create opportunities for new services and products. But when we talk about the future, the only thing certain is that nothing is certain.
Digitalization has impacted our society mainly in three aspects. Firstly, digitalization facilitates us to change the way how we work. For example, during the COVID-19 outbreak, to reduce the spread of the virus, some companies started their home-office policy. For some companies, this was difficult due to data security requirements or work style. But now reality has shown that the technologies and digital tools are good enough to meet home office requirements. Even for industries that traditionally have high-security standards, like banking. Home office could be used more often in the future, with the experience made in corona time. There is no decision for or against it, but where the balance lies.
Secondly, digitalization has brought so much convenience in our life. 20 years ago we could hardly imagine listening to music by clicking on a mobile phone almost wherever you are. Nowadays, it is simply a daily habit. Together with the digitalization also comes the complexity. Our life is surrounded by digital devices, which connect and create interconnected networks. If one thing does not work, we can be lost in the highly complex networks and do not even know where to start to fix the problem. For example, if the music suddenly stops while you are driving, is it the problem of the app? Or your mobile phone? Or the bluetooth connection between your phone and car? It can be hard to give a quick answer.
Thirdly, we must learn to understand and manage the potential risks introduced by digitalization. For example, if the internet service provider like Swisscom has an interruption, it can cause enormous economic and social losses, even just within a short period. I think our society is not familiar with dealing with this kind of risk yet, we are always at a learning stage.
Potential approaches for service providers
Digitalization has also changed how companies interact with their customers. Taking Swisscom as an example, it strengthened its field service capacity with the help of a digital platform, called Crowd Services. There, Swisscom engages certified individuals and specialist companies to offer services to their clients, such as installations, advice and technical support, etc. Customer experience will be improved by faster field services, while Swisscom can optimize its resource management for customer service.
Changes of customer touchpoints is another important field during the digitalization. Swisscom offered several so-called touchpoints for clients traditionally: hotline, shops and on-site customer service. Coordination among these channels can be time-consuming and inefficient. To improve the customer experience, the company is experimenting with a new concept of client touchpoints – each client is served by locally based teams with resources from all the touchpoints. The advantage of the regionalization is that employees are familiar with regional conditions, thus can better understand clients’ requirements and respond more efficiently. This new concept will be built with large datasets, digital tools and platforms.
Photo in header: Marvin Meyer, Unsplash