Digital transformation: ‘innovation in thinking’

26 July 2021, Laurent Bakker

Digital tools have become a more important part of our lives. They are increasingly interactive in design and can communicate more and more with each other. Another development is towards a single large data model that reflects reality virtually – the digital twin – thereby offering a range of (custom) applications. Consequently, the ‘collaboration’ between people and technology is ever stronger. By combining our knowledge of processes and systems (and undoubtedly more) with the possibilities offered by technology, we become better equipped as a consultancy firm to support our clients in the (optimal) use of data, both now and in the future.

In other words, what matters most is good collaboration between people and technology. Technology continues to develop rapidly, but what about the human side of the story? What kinds of developments are needed in order to effectively utilise the new possibilities offered by technology for such major societal challenges as climate adaptation or the energy transition?

Digital twin of the living environment

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a digital twin of our living environment? From a copy of the subsoil to the built environment and public space that would let us simulate, for instance, the effect of  greening of public spaces on the temperature in the city. And, for example, gain insight into land use and how this impacts the quality of the soil. This requires good system knowledge and system thinking on the part of people, which in turn requires taking more advantage of the (non-traditional) expertise and skills of consultants. The approach taken needs to be more multidisciplinary with a greater focus on the big picture, not only the individual parts. After all, it is not usually a matter of simple cause and effect relationships and every system is comprised of sub-systems, which in turn interact with other systems.

Collaboration between people and technology

So, if we want to be able to get the most out of technology and rely on it for issues related to our living environment, we need to make the following transitions:

  1. From ‘object’ thinking to ‘system’ thinking: thinking in terms of connections and interactions
  2. From ‘technology’ thinking to ‘data-driven’ thinking: taking our point of departure from the available and required data and not (only) the (available) technology
  3. From ‘data use’ thinking to ‘data integration’ thinking; combining data to gain new insights and information
  4. From ‘domain expertise’ to ‘digital inclusive’ expertise: the digital knowledge that is needed in the heart of the expertise, not as an external supplier

Consequently, I dare claim that ‘innovation in thinking’ by both the government and consultants is essential to effectively achieve good collaboration with technology. The one is not possible without the other, so let’s not get trapped into thinking that technology alone is the answer.

Creating added value

At TAUW, we are always looking for smart technological solutions that offer added value for our work and that of our clients. Some excellent examples of these can be seen on our Digital Transformation page by clicking on the button below.

Digital Transformation

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