At this point, every organization is pursuing or at least preparing for digital transformation. The real question is what business leaders consider to be “payoff.” Ask yourself: what do you consider to be a suitable return on your digital transformation investments? Revenue growth? Improved market share? Higher stock value?
These are all good incentives, but there needs to be more. If your desired results only align with what’s in your organization’s best interest, your digital transformation initiatives will fall short. Perhaps this is why half of U.S. executives admit they aren’t successfully executing 50% of their strategies, and 20% say their digital transformation is a waste of time.
Powerful digital technologies like AI, IoT and data analytics should be used not only to transform business, but quality of life. This human aspect of digital transformation cannot be lost on us. What does this mean, exactly? Here are four extraordinary ways digital technologies can be used to transform everyday experiences:
- Smart Car for the Visually Impaired
I understand the resistance to this idea, yet it is a rapidly evolving concept that has the potential to transform millions of lives worldwide (in the U.S. alone, an estimated 25 million adults have trouble seeing due to blindness or even when wearing glasses or contact lenses). What’s stopping us from empowering these individuals to autonomously drive using digital technologies?
Nothing. In fact, we’re already seeing developments in this area from major manufacturers (a new prototype from Ford, for example, allows blind passengers to “feel” what they can’t see outside a car’s window). A smart vehicle equipped with a location-based service, for example, can help visually-impaired drivers remember where they park. Biometrics could enable them to unlock car doors via a fingerprint scan or facial recognition. With the ability to detect cloud-based calendars, the connected vehicle could securely access a driver’s schedule including times and locations. Text-to-speech could easily be used to describe surrounding environments as drivers walk to and from their car.
- Virtual Care Coordination at End of Life
Most people want to receive end-of-life care at home yet, against their wishes, end up in a hospital. In California, for example, 70% of individuals say they want to pass on at home, yet 68% do not. Together, AI, IoT and data analytics can create a virtual care environment that allows patients to pass on in the peace of their home while helping hospitals optimize resources and lower costs.
AI, for example, can intelligently coordinate communications by automatically triggering messages to key hospital staff; alerts can be automatically routed to the right person at the right moment to improve response times and health outcomes. AI integration can also deliver real-time answers to patient or caregiver questions via chatbot technology, routing them to the appropriate responder if the answer cannot be found. Data analytics would enable the bot to leverage schedules, staff assignments and the communication preferences of responders to maximize patient and hospital outcomes.
- Substance Abuse
Over 250 million people worldwide live with addiction, yet only a small fraction seek help and receive it. Even then, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 40 to 60% of recovering addicts will backslide. For these individuals, the ability to instantly and contextually communicate is critical for treatment and relapse prevention. This can be difficult considering the volume of calls just one helpline facility receives (SAMHSA’s National Helpline, for example, received an average 68,600 calls per month in Q1 2018).
Contextualized service is of the utmost importance here, where individuals don’t have time to repeat information or wait on hold for even one second. Helplines and other related facilities can use advanced data analytics to seamlessly collect, track and share contextual data across teams and touchpoints to deliver targeted help. Meanwhile, AI can intelligently redirect callers to the right support resource as quickly as possible to prevent unfortunate outcomes and even save lives.
Other incredible ways data analytics and AI are being used in this area can be found in this story from Forbes about a CEO using AI to treat addiction and in this article about using AI and social networks for recovery support.
- Emergency Response/Public Safety
The title of this Wall Street Journal article sums it up perfectly: “Why Uber Can Find You but 911 Can’t.” Accurate location data is on smartphones, the author argues, so why don’t more emergency responders use it to locate callers? I’ve been wondering this for years. We no longer have a fixed number or location when dialing for an emergency, yet public safety access points (PSAPs) still rely on communications infrastructure designed to only locate landlines.
This is a critical issue for obvious reasons. Consider someone who has a heart attack in a skyscraper: emergency responders can detect the location of the building, but not that the person is on the 42nd Imagine someone in the woods hunting when this heart attack occurs. It’s expected that PSAPs are properly equipped in today’s mobile world to serve and protect the public.
There’s also the issue of response times (the current response time for life-threatening medical emergencies is slower than it is for any other high-priority call). Technology has evolved to the point where emergency callers shouldn’t have to wait 12 minutes for an EMS operator to confirm that an ambulance has arrived. We can do better. We need to do better.
This also applies to school campuses, be it for detecting emergencies and initiating lockdowns or spotting hazards like gas leaks or water pressure issues. The combination of AI and IoT technologies (fully automated workflows/notifications, building management integration, complete mapping with Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth) can revolutionize school safety and save lives.
The Greater Good
At the end of the day, digital transformation is about improving the lives of real people—human beings with real hopes, challenges and goals—through the digital services they consume. That feeling when you see your child safely get off the school bus, when your friend grips a steering wheel for the first time, when your elderly parent laughs in the comfort of their home …. that’s what digital transformation is all about. No matter what industry you operate in, you can do your part to contribute to a better world.
Most of the technology I’ve described exists today, we just need to intelligently combine these individual components. This is where bold thinking meets practical doing with next-gen, ultra-secure and scalable solutions. Forward these examples to your boss. Build executive consensus around this mentality. Be the one to spearhead real, life-changing digital transformation at your organization. And above all, find the right partner to do it with.