Digitalization – yes, but how?


Digitalization is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment, demanding new processes, methods and systems. The most common approach to it is to ask the people involved what they need. At a recent podium discussion, a director of a large institution demanded that we “Don't ask what they need! Ask them how they work!”. We would like to build on this demand, i.e. modify and expand it.

We prefer the sound of “Do not *only* ask what they need!”. It’s not impossible that some of the people affected by digitalization have thought seriously about improvements and could contribute some worthwhile ideas. Generally, however, we agree that simply being involved doesn’t guarantee an objective outlook.

We would like to modify the second demand as follows: “Ask them how they are supposed to work and why!” The people involved do not always do what they are supposed to. The answer to this “why” is ideally an intermediate target that is relevant to achieving a larger strategic goal. However, possible answers might also be “I don’t know” or “Because it’s always been done that way”. It may be that there is no larger strategic goal.

These unsatisfactory answers bring our third demand into play, which is aimed at those who are responsible for strategy: “Think about whether they do the right things in the right way!” Surveying the people involved and evaluating their needs can be a good starting point. There is usually very little mention of forward-looking changes, particularly if such changes would entail unknown variables for those involved. Anyone responsible for strategy should therefore think critically, even if it may lead to unpleasant decisions. Digitalization projects are a tempting way to demonstrate activity in this area. However, these too often result in digital copies that look like paper but are completely unsuitable for subsequent digital use.

Complete Revision of the Federal Data Protection Act

The complete revision's draft of the Federal Data Protection Act is currently in political consultation. Data Protection is to be increased by giving people more control over their private data as well as reinforcing transparancy regarding the handling of confidential data.

Links: draft, report

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8006 Zürich


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