Digitalisation simply refers to the integration of digital technologies, tools, devices into our everyday life. That's it! So, it cannot really be that complicated, can it? One might ask!
Today, you may predict something only to find that a latest technology invented somewhere in the world is changing your perception tomorrow. The only thing we can do today is to make ourselves open to new technologies, and let digitalisation take its own course. Embrace it, as the world is about to change in a big way.
You could possibly get by a day without your wallet in your back pocket or handbag, but try getting through the day without your smartphone. Technology has impacted our life to such an extent that sometimes it is not unnatural to feel overwhelmed when you leave your home without your smartphone. Many are of the opinion that technology has now taken over the way we think, behave and interact, but as a technology expert and advocator of digitalisation, I firmly believe that this is not a downside at all.
After all, the aspiration behind all technological advancements is noble. Digitalisation has come this far because its progression was always motivated by the grand vision of serving humanity. The issues we consider to be the downsides of technology are nothing but the byproducts of the massive technological transformation the society has undergone. Even if technology brings negativity to some extent, it will be fought and checked by society and technology itself. This is the only decisive comment I can make on the ever evolving phenomenon of digitalisation.
Today, we all can see a digital future awaiting us. The world is moving fast towards an era where every aspect of human life will be digitalised. According to a report published by Gartner, 100 million people will shop using augmented reality by 2020. The same firm has also predicted that by 2020 approximately 26 billion objects will be connected by “Internet of Things”. As surprising it may seem, these two facts only reveal the tip of the iceberg.
Let us consider another report published by Booz & Company, a global strategy consultancy company. Their report claims that a 10% increase in a country's digitisation rate brings approximately 0.75 % higher GDP per capita. Digitisation in emerging countries could deliver close to US$6.3 trillion in additional nominal GDP and 77 million new jobs over the next 10 years, according to Strategy&. However, it will require a concerted public and private effort to bring digitization to the world's poorest people.
If Bangladesh as a country does not adopt the digital way of life, it will fail to face the challenges of the twenty first century. I am quite aware that the Government of Bangladesh realised this truth and started taking initiatives towards building a digital nation. Digital Bangladesh by 2020, initiated by the ICT Ministry is envisioned solely for this purpose. In such a transitional period of the country, the responsibility of digital communications service providers has increased the way it has never been before. Unless we understand people's growing urge for a digital life and act accordingly in collaboration with the Government, the very purpose of our service will remain unfulfilled. Responding to this call of the hour, Banglalink has initiated the process of turning into a full-fledged digital company that can meet the demands of the digital era. Our endeavour to launch 4G is the latest step towards that direction. New digital initiatives such as “Banglalink Next Tuber”, “Banglalink IT Incubator” and “Banglalink Ennovators” were launched for serving the aforementioned purpose. I think all other communications providers are working in the same spirit.
Digitalisation has changed the way we shop, read the news and commute as well. With one click on the app, commuters can now find a ride – at their doorstep, which is convenient, time saving, cost effective and comfortable. The reality is people spend twice as much time online as they used to 12 years ago. Now with advanced digital technologies, you can buy your groceries and pay your bills online. The biggest success behind these disruptive businesses has been the prompt transition from non-digital to digital business models after deep understanding of customer demands and behavioural patterns.
However, looking on the other side, there are many business giants who have failed, just because they could not respond to customers' behaviour and demands. One example of such failure is Blockbuster, which in an attempt of connecting people, failed to connect itself to customers' demands, and the story of its failure made global headlines, while we look at Netflix that took the world of movie rentals by storm. The VHS movie rental stores are long gone now, but they were an icon less than a decade ago.
Amazon in 2014 saw $8.9 billion dollar in sales, 20% up from the previous years and I dare not ask what were we doing in 2014? Were we doing any kind of online business then, or were we just happy marching along the classical way of business which we knew? Did it give us the 20% odd growth? I will quote Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's saying that “We want to enable the customer to interact with Macy's. It makes no difference to us whether they buy in our store or online.” That's right, online is the solution now.
Gone are the days of standing in long queues for movie tickets on a weekend. Now with high speed Internet connectivity, disruptive ideas like Netflix have already stolen the show. In Bangladesh, people now register for exams online and receive results on their mobile phones as well. Booking train tickets have been made easier, thanks to technology. Similarly, 1one of the ambitions of the ICT Ministry was to ensure citizens do not need to walk more than 4 kilometres to access more than 114 essential services from any of the 11,000 rural service outlets.
Society at large too, has a key role to play in this change especially when it comes to social responsibility and civic mindedness. I am already impressed by the way the people of Bangladesh have started adopting this new mode of life. The number of mobile-users in Bangladesh has crossed 140 million. This staggering number speaks for itself. Now the time has come to acknowledge that digitalisation is not only a technological drive, rather it has turned into a cultural trend worldwide. We have to change and adapt in order to stay relevant. So embrace digitalisation. The digital future awaits us.
The writer is the Chief Digital Officer of Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd.