In a small lane in a large city, a panipuriwalla’s thella displays the Paytm QR code – signifying that he accepts payments through Paytm. And if you don’t want to spend your precious data, he shares his ‘data’ through ‘hotspot’ to enable the transfer. Welcome to the world of the binary brothers – ‘1’ & ‘0’; where WIFI is the most basic need in Maslow’s hierarchy and cars don’t need humans. Welcome to the ‘digital’ era. The term – ‘digital’ manifests itself into two closely related paradigms – digitisation and digitalization. Digitisation deals with converting any input into a digitised output, one which is coded through the binary language. We have been digitising stuff for a long time. However, digitalization is far more profound and all-encompassing in its potential to alter our lives. Digitalization not only does help us do things better than before, viz. booking tickets on IRCTC; it also enables us to do something we could never do before, for instance virtual-reality enabled shopping or 3D – try on for virtual trial of eye wear on Lenskart. DeMo has just been an intermittent spurt to the inevitable transition towards the digital way of living. The dynamically disruptive change has begun since long, and there’s no going back. Resisting this change would be akin to resisting life itself, as digitalization is rendering a whole new way of living life in all its essentialities. Artificial Intelligence, neural networks and big data are the next frontiers to be conquered. Smart phones are the portal to teleport you from the real to the digital world. Internet of Things (IoT) will make your car text a message to your client that you shall be late for meeting, just by anticipating the traffic on your route. And the nano robots in your body can signal the detection of tumour cells in early stages of cancer. IoT is another massive disruption; as it has always been humans who have generated and recorded data. Through IoT, things will generate and record data. Each ‘thing’ will have its own unique IP address, thanks to IPv6 – we can assign a unique IP address to each atom on this earth, and still have addresses left to do another 100 earths. For businesses, digitalization provides unparalleled opportunities for value creation. Facebook does not create any content and Uber does not own cars. Digital technologies are causing disruptions in existing business models, shutting down businesses and creating strategically transformed opportunities. Current work forces can’t be assured of the longevity of their employment, and school kids aren’t even studying what they would be employed for. It’s a double edged knife though, and with the goodies come along a lot of threats to be challenged and enhanced responsibilities to be shouldered by all stake holders. The future will be whatever we make it. And yet we can’t predict what’s in store for us on the other side of this exponential change.
It’s like we have been placed on a roller-coaster. We may scream and jump and curse as much as we can, but there’s no getting down. Learn to enjoy the ride. We can no longer judge the digital way of living as being ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the previous way of living life; as we are already so integrated digitally that very soon, we shall be compelled to declare the digital way as a ‘newer’ way of living life. Whatever we have held tightly onto – our beliefs and behaviours, our customs and values, our relationships and routines, our way of thinking and our way of doing – all is bound to alter. Are we willing to change? Do we really have an option? Charles Darwin never seemed so relevant as now. The digitalization of life has begun and it’s the most exciting time to be living in. And if things get too heady, the binary brothers aren’t going to take away the fun of having a road-side panipuri from you.