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The advantages and disadvantages of digitization

The term digitization is used almost inflationarily nowadays and can be found in all areas of life. Society, economy, culture and education are equally affected by the advancing digitization. Digitization basically means nothing more than that information is mapped and stored in the form of numbers, mostly with the help of the binary system of 0 and 1. However, such a development not only has advantages, it also has disadvantages.

Important technologies as the starting shot

The beginning of the so-called digital revolution cannot be fixed on a specific date. Many believe that the invention of the microchip was one of the triggers. The storage capacity on these chips is constantly increasing, so that more and more complex functions can be performed with the help of these chips and more and more extensive information can be stored on them. In addition, they are getting faster and faster, which means that workflows take place in an ever shorter time. Business enterprises benefit from these developments, as do city administrations. There are now specialized companies with corresponding core competencies. You can help authorities and state institutions, but also commercial enterprises, to digitize their entire administration.

Fast work processes as an advantage

For companies, work processes that run quickly and without disruption are an important part of their success. In the past, order forms for materials had to be laboriously filled out and the required material ordered across different stations. Today, you simply need to enter your requirements in an online form. Thanks to the increasing networking inside and outside the company, this can be forwarded almost without delay, so that the ordered material ends up in production much faster than was possible in the analog age.

Digitization and the job market

Various studies were carried out to see what the proportion of jobs could be that will be lost due to digitization. According to a study by the Institute for Employment Research and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, around 1.5 million jobs could have been cut by 2035 as digitization progresses. The main reason for this is that activities previously carried out by humans will be taken over by increasingly powerful robots in the future.

Above all, it will affect workers in the manufacturing sector, such as workers in mining, toolmaking or the automotive industry. Professions in other sectors such as nurses, teachers and retailers, on the other hand, will hardly be affected. The study also showed that digitization will create almost as many new jobs in most regions, mainly in the information and communication industry. So digitization is not a job killer, but it will inevitably lead to a reshaping of the world of work.

Networking on a global level

Since the development of the Internet, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Thanks to digital technologies, an ever faster Internet, the invention of computers and smartphones, people can now connect with other people from almost anywhere, hold meetings, exchange information and much more. The Internet makes it very easy to connect to authorities, log into networks and send or receive data without delay. A good example of how networking works is the so-called smart home, i.e. apartments or houses that are connected using digital technologies, which means that almost all things can be controlled and monitored remotely. It works similarly with global networking. An entrepreneur based in Germany can, for example, use a network to control the work processes in his Asian branch without any problems and, if necessary, control them.

Digitization and the transparent person

A topic that is hotly debated again and again is the so-called transparent human being, which is created by digitization. The fact that more and more information about every person is available via the Internet and that one can theoretically be followed and monitored every step of the way through networking, privacy is lost. Because you can always be reached by smartphone or computer, because ever more extensive information about each person (contact details, health information, pictures and others) is reaching a large number of hands in increasingly branched ways, the proportion of information that remains private is shrinking.

In the end, everyone has to know for themselves to what extent this is okay, perhaps even desired or not. Opinions differ widely here, which is not least due to the fact that nobody knows exactly which information is actually stored where and for what purpose and, above all, who can access it.

Digitization as a cost factor

The conversion of a company to digital structures is not only a lot of work, but also associated with not insignificant costs. In order to provide a company with such structures, new hardware and software are required. As a rule, the company needs the help of specialists who carry out and monitor the digitization process and also organize the training of employees.

Training employees in particular is usually very time-consuming. One consequence of this is possibly a sluggish day-to-day business. Smaller companies in particular quickly have financial problems as a result. However, much remains to be done after the conversion is complete. Because the software programs absolutely have to stay up to date. Technologies today have the property of becoming obsolete very quickly, which is why cost-intensive updates or even new acquisitions are necessary. In view of these costs, digitization is usually not a very easy task for a company.

Cyber ​​attack risk

Experience shows that even the best and latest technology always offers one or the other target for so-called cyber attacks. With the help of such attacks, strangers can penetrate a system from the outside and sometimes paralyze an entire company. Even networks with numerous security precautions are never 100 percent secure. However, this means that such cyber criminals can also succeed in getting into the system of a nuclear power plant or a military facility, for example.

Another danger with such attacks is that the intruders could steal important personal data and misuse it for their own purposes. Above all, contact details, bank details, usernames and passwords are now stolen millions of times.

Digitization enables a more efficient fight against crime

In the fight against crime, digitization has also proven to be an effective instrument for investigative and law enforcement authorities. There is now an ever better functioning network between individual countries inside and outside Europe. With the help of digital technologies, data on potential suspects can be exchanged and compared with one another. Thanks to technical innovations, phone calls can be tapped and chat processes can be followed. In this way, planned crimes can be identified and prevented much faster.

This has a disadvantageous effect if states treat such data arbitrarily and do not comply with the applicable laws themselves. An example of this could be the social system planned by the People's Republic of China, which works primarily on the basis of permanent monitoring of every individual citizen. The system tested there is suitable for punishing citizens not only when they break the law, but also when they are too critical of the government.

New working time models thanks to digitization

An undeniable advantage of digitization are the possibilities it opens up in the area of ​​working time models. Due to the company's networks, which are also accessible from the outside, an employee no longer necessarily has to sit directly in the company in an office, but instead, for example, in the home office. The employee can work from home by gaining access to the company network via a secure line on the Internet. As a result, he can basically work at any time of the day or night. This in turn enables companies to offer their employees more flexible working hours. In addition, less space is required in the company offices.

Despite digitization, paper remains necessary

Although most documents can now be stored and edited digitally, the absolutely paperless office will probably never exist. Many companies still keep particularly important documents in paper form despite the storage of an infinite number of documents on a hard drive, in a cloud or on a server. Above all, contracts, notices or similar things should not simply be disposed of after saving. If the technology doesn't play along because the entire system crashes, you still have the most important papers to hand.


June 25, 2019

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