Astonishing, the digitalization! Especially for astronomers or particle physicists like me. I do not so much mean all the new opportunities and business models that come with it, but all the fuss the topic causes and the struggle most organizations experience with it. The number of blogs, articles, and conferences regarding this topic is overwhelming.
Digitalization mainly concerns handling data. What is it, how do I generated it, how do I store it, and the most important one: how can I extract important information and business value from data? It is presented as a fundamental new, innovative phenomenon and perceived as such. For many scientists, however, data has been at the centre of their day-to-day work for decades.
The fundamental research of CERN in Geneva, for example, is all about generating, storing, and analysing data. The value of that data lies in new, never before seen fundamental building blocks of nature, such as the Higgs-particle. To discover these, the most advanced data analyses and algorithms are needed. The handling of Petabytes of data and the development of intelligent algorithms requires a special way of working. You have to work iteratively in short cycles and in close collaboration with your colleagues. These techniques are exactly what characterize agile work methods such as Scrum. It is therefore no coincidence that these methods together with the digitalization, are increasingly finding their way into commercial organizations.
Thus, it is no surprise that organizations which manage to take full advantage of the experience and knowledge of scientists excel in their digital transformations. The best examples to support this claim are of course the large tech companies. Over 16% of all Google employees have a Ph.D. [CNBC, July 2017] and are hence scientifically trained. A Dutch example would be Booking.com, located in Amsterdam, where over 80% of the data scientists and analysts who are continuously improving existing services and develop new, innovative ones, have a scientific background.
Ph.D.s, however, are highly ambitious employees and demand an intellectually stimulating and challenging work environment. Especially in the field of data science we encounter many Ph.D.’s working for large organizations that get disappointed, resulting in them leaving the company. In our digital organization designs we consider the needs of Ph.D.’s to make sure that they and their skills can thrive and be put to good use.
Are you interested in knowing more on how we design digital organizations? Contact us!