Digitalisation "This shift is ongoing and unavoidable"
Digitalscouting interview with Dr. Dean Anthony Gratton about Digitalisation and the unavoidable industry effects.
To give a short personal impression: let us know what are your top 3 books everyone today needs to read and top 3 tech gadgets one needs to have?
I do like a good story but, for me, I’m interested in reading something that challenges your everyday thinking – something that makes you wonder, “What if?” and offsets your thoughts into a different direction.
As such, my first book, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens (available in Germany, in the US, in the UK, in Italy, and in Spain) provides a thought-provoking, witty and educational journey, and questions religious beliefs irrespective of your doctrine.
My second book choice is “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh (available in Germany, in the US, in the UK, in Italy, and in Spain) and, ironically, it does live up to the hype! Taking a raw, yet sometimes side-splitting look at unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms and, generally, mayhem, it’s a book that I always return to when life gets a little too serious as, without fail, it lightens my mood and brings a smile to my face.
My third book choice is “The Fry Chronicles” by Stephen Fry (available in Germany, in the US, in the UK, in Italy, and in Spain). A charming, unabashed recounting of a seven-year period in Fry's life, taking up the story after his release from prison, his time at Cambridge University and his career in comedy up to the late 1980s. Just make sure you have a cushion on the floor to comfort your jaw when it drops.
So, you ask about my top three gadgets: Where do I start? Of course, there are so many to choose from and, I suppose, my obvious number one choice would be my smartphone. I first had a mobile phone in the 1990s and was ever-so excited to have a gadget that afforded such flexibility and freedom. However, today it has become so much more than a device that makes calls. Today’s smartphones are responsible for shifting a new way of accessing information, which anyone can do, regardless of location. It’s a connected world.
I do like smart home technology and it has truly taken some time for a home to be regarded as ‘smart’. I had numerous discussions about what technology qualifies a home as smart – as you may already know, but these kind of discussions about smart home or living have been in circulation since the 1960s. I feel today, we are experiencing a level of smartness that brings about true smart living.
In particular, I don’t care too much for the talking refrigerator or a dishwasher that can be started from your smartphone; rather, I prefer a gadget that adds value to your smart home experience. For example, I use Amazon Echos throughout my home (available in Germany, in the US, in the UK, in Italy, and in Spain), allowing me to control, through voice, most essentials such as lighting and heating, as well as my home cinema. For me, this offers a natural evolution in engagement with technology within the home that, in turn, simplifies interaction and raises the user experience to an almost science fiction reality.
It can only get better!
My third gadget of choice is surprisingly old fashioned. Yes, I’m talking about my Brabantia corkscrew (available in Germany, in the US, in the UK, and in Spain). Let me explain… not only is its chic black design a joy to behold, it also incorporates a nifty wine seal cutter. What more could any wine lover ask for besides a larger than life wine glass?
We're very much impressed with the content on your website deangratton.com - can you share more about it? For example, what are your goals?
I suppose everyone wants to tell their story and impart the experience and knowledge they have accumulated over their career. My website is a reflection of my thoughts on new technology where, I like to think I deliver my tagline’s promise to my readers, that being “I dispel the rumours, gossip and hype surrounding new technology’. You see, with a background in software engineering and solution architecture, I have been instrumental in creating new technology and products. Often, the business is led by sales and marketing and typically companies are over-eager to develop the next big thing. As such, they can be guilty of creating hyperbole that may confuse the everyday consumer. So, my website is used to crush any exaggerated spiel – let’s not forget, we must learn to walk before we can run.
Say a 10-year-old is asking you "What is digital transformation"?
That’s a great question and I will use the famous Albert Einstein quote, “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother”. With this in mind, explaining digital transformation to a 10-year old holds a similar theme.
Digital transformation is a relatively new term and, I’m sure, if you asked 10 or so people, you’ll invariably hear 10 different answers. But, in short, “digital transformation is the ability for technology to make a business more powerful”. For a more detailed explanation and for those over ten years old, please read my article in Hack & Craft, August 2018.
Any kind of use cases that impressed you most over the last 12 months. Do you think what industries are far ahead and left behind with regards to digitalisation?
I have been working with wireless technology for over 25 years now, which lends itself quite well to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the associated technologies and products that have since emerged.
So, when I review some case studies over the last year or so, I am always interested in learning about how the notion of IoT can aid many sectors. For example, in healthcare, where connectivity is allowing remote mentoring of surgeons around the world and providing independence for patients who can remain at home and receive that all-important treatment from afar. Additionally, in agritech, where environmental challenges are being tackled with IoT-enabled solutions, including drone crop management and soil sensor technology ensuring that crops are plentiful and trouble-free.
Can you share your thoughts on how digitalisation affecting the traditional business models? Any unique tips you can share with those who are willing to change but struggling to catch up.
I have already touched upon this in Question 4. The digitalisation shift has simplified our way-of-working, empowering individuals who perhaps would have never had a voice – now they do – in fact, we can all be heard and that’s all through the power of digital transformation.
This shift is ongoing and unavoidable and it’s necessary for each of us to take part and help shape its future; no stragglers I’m afraid because the cold digital sphere is a lonely one.
Traditional companies for insurance and finance - what is your innovative thoughts on how they can improve their business and customer experience.
The financial industries are very much ‘old school’ in their thinking and this, of course, needs to change in order for digitisation to add real long-term value to both consumers and the enterprise that envelops the digitisation ecosystem.
With a new generation of digitally-minded graduates looking to enter the financial sector, a great opportunity has presented itself which, I echo, needs to be fully embraced – remember, I said, the cold digital sphere is a lonely one!
What would you recommend for start-ups and young people who would like to take their chances with the known tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and others?
Firstly, do your homework. Take a look at what other similar companies are already putting out there and find a way to do it better! Learn what’s unique about you and promote it through your network before you even think of approaching the big boys.
Preparation is key and there’s no substitution for hard work. When it comes to any interview, remember that this is your opportunity to ask questions and to challenge the status quo in terms of their business approach and ethos. Don’t forget, this is a two-way stream and you need to have the confidence to effectively convey the strength of your experience and your working philosophy. Convey a coherent and concise message whilst ensuring that the tech giants also do the same.
9. Maybe you have some mentors, colleagues, inspirations, and influencers you want to mention as shoutouts to them.
It might be considered a little cliché, but my wife, Sarah-Jayne Gratton (@grattongirl), my ‘bestest’ friend in the world, challenges me on a daily basis. Of course, I’m talking about more than, who’s going to make coffee first thing in the morning; rather, she gives me a whole new way of looking at things. Yes, Sarah has a unique and oddly shifted thinking that bounces off my own, meaning that we both truly complement each other.
Where I have an often technical perspective, wanting to rip the lid off most things to see what’s inside and how they work, Sarah will conversely consider the psychological impact of how a consumer might experience one thing or another – she looks at things from a human perspective, which makes her quite wonderful.
And there’s John Clarke, my former college professor, who firmly believed in me whilst I dithered with my own sense of security and self-confidence. He is singularly responsible for showing me the way to a path that I have walked for most of my career and I regret not having the opportunity to thank him.
Thank you Dean for making this interview possible from all of us here in Digitalscouting.de - and we're looking forward to our future collaborations!
Originally published in DigitalScouting.de.