New heroes of work are IT-user organisations and businesses. Heroes of the digital market are businesses which have successfully identified configurable processes and managed to transfer themselves, and others, to the new age, in good time.
While PCs, tablets, the internet, and cloud-based data storage options have been with us for quite a while, real change in IT systems did not take place ten or twenty years ago, but is happening right now – claims Mr Péter Vityi, the Vice President of ICT Association of Hungary.
Only one part of this change is characterised by the emergence of new digital technologies.
In fact, the real change is happening during the current phase, when practically every enterprise, market and sector, worldwide, must realise the importance of digital development and must incorporate such new elements into their own processes in order to shift to a higher, faster, streamlined, more-efficient gear.
Hungary, and innovative Hungarian companies, have identified this opportunity, and co-operation has been launched among many industrial sectors in order to overcome decades-old issues through the introduction and utilisation of digital technologies and IT solutions.
Step one: replacing typewriters and the abacus
Ten or twenty years ago, IT and digital companies operating in Hungary were primarily able to solve abstract tasks and issues, i.e. these assignments did not bring about real, physical changes for other sectors.
Obviously, during the first period, IT professionals were tackling processes which were easy to transform or develop, the modernisation of which resulted in immediate efficiency increases without having to devise digital replacements for certain activities. Initial IT success stories involved administration- and registration-related tasks.
Step two: expanding IT
After the millennium, we witnessed changes in IT which made it possible for the sector to have a greater influence than ever before. Unprecedented device capacity increases were, among other factors, massively contributed to the steady growth of the IT sector, while other sectors lagged.
The emergence of such new solutions drastically decreased communications costs and resulted in communication devices becoming widespread.
All these processes triggered digital development in sectors where real, physical processes were transferred in order to be more cost-effective.
Step three: the power of data
As the number of digitalised processes in different sectors grew, so did the positive effect of informatics appear through accelerated work, increased efficiency and better-managed expenditures. And the list of benefits does not end there: data collected this way can be used for many purposes beyond the original need and they can generate value without the need for additional investment. One textbook example of this is the intensive penetration of e-shops.
Why was it necessary to have real shops back in the old days? Because we needed a place to pick up goods and a place where we can pay the vendor.
However, IT has taken over and not only successfully replaced these functions, but added some extras to the process, also. We can still search and browse for products, pay for them and have them delivered, but all these steps are now done through the internet – today, this is the standard.
Nowadays, it is possible to do a lot more in an e-shop than in a regular store: a lot more information can be collected about a given product, products can be compared with each other and community reviews are available at a click of a button.
E-shops are, in addition, open 24/7, and are accessible regardless of the customer's physical location, while analytics, data analyses and sensors allow for precise stock-management and streamlined logistics.
So, by now, IT have entirely reshaped our world, not only by replacing previous processes, but establishing an array of functions never seen before. It is evident that if something can be digitalised then it is worth digitalising it.
The Age of Possibilities
Hungary was an active, innovative player during previous industrial revolutions, as well, contributing to the success of the revolution through various inventions, unique developments, and scientists.
Lately, we have been witnessing another productive era wherein we face new tasks and challenges. To mention but a few, we need to identify sectors and segments where existing companies and new entries can incorporate new ICT technologies (delivered by IT players) into their activities. This scope of activities has never been richer in new options and possibilities than now, when, essentially, every sector is transferred and reconfigured by modern innovations and digital solutions.
Hungary has taken a leading role in the region; intensive technical and government activity is evident in industrial digitalisation and the Industry 4.0 scheme is incorporated at all levels of the Hungarian economy. Besides, the wide spectrum of market-state co-operation encourages strategy- level management of agriculture, health and education services.
Changes may, sometimes, result in collateral damage. Consider the cases of conventional camera manufacturers and music publishers, many such companies claiming that new technologies have wreaked havoc on their businesses.
If you, however, take a different approach and say that, instead of destroying these businesses, new innovations have reconfigured and transferred them into something different, then a vast array of new options and possibilities becomes achievable.
A simple smartphone purchased in a dime store today allows you access to applications worth EUR 900,000 at 1980's value.
Everyone wants to be digital – even if they are unaware of it
Digitalisation is present in every industrial sector. All you need is just one brave question: what can be digitalised in a given segment?
In the case of the automotive industry, brave people might reply: “The driver”. This leads us back to a fundamental issue: the pace of change. If someone, three years ago, were to talk about a car which drives itself, he was quickly disregarded for being a “looney, sci-fi buff”; yet, today, leading international companies are working on such vehicles to make them accessible in the foreseeable future.
There are sectors, such as tourism, financial services and telecommunications, where the transformation is still ongoing.
In the meantime, Industry 4.0 clearly shows that the process from manufacture - starting with design, logistics and production engineering - to finished goods, can be managed in a complex, dynamic and interactive system.
Owing to digital transformation, the number of sectors where production has shifted over to digital foundations is constantly on the rise. The growing number of such enterprises also indicates that issues arising in other areas cannot be dealt with in isolation from IT solutions.
It might be regarded as a brave example, but cleaners are well sought-after, in Hungary, but it is simply not enough to train more workers who can sweep and mop the floors. Digital affinity is considered indispensable in such a seemingly simple field, and modern cleaning machines are often "programmed" to execute automatic operations.
Hungarian IT companies can play a significant role in digital transitions. It will be possible to enter markets which, so far, have failed to recognise the advantages that come with digitalisation, and areas wherein an organisation’s activities can be streamlined by expanding or updating an existing IT solution, will become accessible.
Transition to digital shrinks the world; new, local solutions can “go global”, communication tools can enable German users to take advantage of an idea originating from Hungary, and Hungarian companies can gain a better insight into what issues people on the other side of the globe have to deal with.
Hungary will become a perfect testing-ground: developed infrastructure and intensive technology utilisation favours unfolding projects. In most cases, it is unnecessary to develop US specific products that are different from those used in Europe; thus, global opening will not preclude local success – instead, it will act as a catalyst.