The Importance of Digital Intelligence

Key benefits for leaders, entrepreneurs, the economy, and the society

Digital intelligence has been a great interest to me since I started working with information technology and computers four decades ago. In addition to my work, I have been studying the field and always and learning new methods, techniques, and tools. 

Digital intelligence is the aptitude to convert and represent the physical world in a digital format. Even though it sounds so simple, digital intelligence is a complex phenomenon covering a broad range of technology and business processes, people, and tools.

In this post, I provide highlights from my published book Digital Intelligence: a framework to digital transformation capabilities. I shared 22 chapters of the book on this platform to inform my readers. These chapters can be accessed from the links on ILLUMINATION Book Chapters. 

Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6a, Chapter 6b, Chapter 7a, Chapter 7b, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22

As the subtitle of the book refers, digital intelligence provides a framework for digital transformation. I introduce digital transformation in a comprehensive article titled “Digital Transformation Handbook for Solution Architects: An architectural and design guide” on Technology Hits. The article received substantial interest on this platform and other platforms from technology readers. 

Many large, moderate, and even small-size business organizations are undertaking digital transformation initiatives. However, from my observations, these organizations are facing significant challenges in dealing with rapid technological changes.

The demands of consumers for digital products and services are exponentially growing. In addition, technology consumers are looking for new solutions to their business problems. As a result, technology leaders and entrepreneurs are investing in producing solutions. Over the last two decades, most of my technology projects involve digital transformation. 

Through my observations and engagement, I identified a significant gap in running these initiatives. There are almost no credible references, and each organization start from scratch, and many of them reinvent the wheel. This undesirable approach can cost a lot to the companies. 

The biggest problem is the shortage of qualified solution architects and designers in the digital transformation field. Transferring knowledge in this growing field is very difficult because these solutions are bespoke. So naturally, companies keep their intellectual property produced by their highly paid employees. 

I proposed an innovative model and framework formulated and described in a 12-step architectural method called Digital Transformation Method (DTM) to address this challenge. I published a book titled “Architecting Digital Transformation”. I plan to share chapters of this book on this platform soon. However, interested readers can find the summary and highlights of the book from this article. It is under 40 minutes of reading time. 

I defined digital intelligence and introduced fundamentals in this chapter. In a nutshell, it is the ability to convert or represent the physical world in digital format. Digital intelligence covers a broad spectrum of technology and business processes, people, and tools.

Context, Environment, & Capabilities

As discussed in this chapter, we need an innovative thinking framework and a systematic approach to increase digital intelligence. Digital intelligence begins with awareness of the context, environments, and capabilities such as technology and tools.

Architectural Thinking

One of the essential methods I use in digital transformation initiatives is architectural thinking. This method provides a robust framework to gain digital capabilities such as knowledge, skills, and expertise. In addition, we can use architectural thinking as a checklist to measure our digital intelligence and validate outcomes.

The brain can function best with structure and patterns. Using this structured approach and its principles as a checklist, we cover the fundamentals and don’t miss out on essential steps in the process. This unique thinking process offers a value proposition for understanding the digital world.

Architectural thinking covers ten primary steps. They are vision, strategy, requirements, use cases, current and future state, feasibility, trade-offs, decisions, context, and models. I also published a book about Modern Enterprise Architecture which covers all aspects of this thinking approach at a high level. 

Design Thinking

Design thinking relates to and follows architectural thinking. Design thinking is a more detailed level approach than architectural thinking. As an innovative method, design thinking uses agile approaches. 

Design thinking focuses on the consumers of the solutions. Therefore, the principles revolve around the users of the systems, products, and services. Design thinking is an essential element for digital intelligence. By using design thinking effectively, anyone can be a designer at a fundamental level. 

Design thinking can be used for IoT (Internet of Things), digital twins, Cloud Computing, Edge Computing, cybersecurity, ethical hacking, enterprise architecture, business architecture, robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence solution design, development, and deployment projects in digital transformation programs.

Financial Intelligence

The financial aspect of digital transformation programs is critical as these initiatives generate high costs, both known and hidden. However, dealing with the expenses known can be straightforward, such as applying logic and using project management discipline. 

However, dealing with the hidden costs can be challenging. Quality requirements can include multiple hidden charges. Gold-plating is dangerous. It means providing services above and beyond requirements. 

These programs need innovation, a pragmatic approach, and inventions to cut costs and increase profitability. These approaches cut the hidden costs and increase desired revenue from the return of investment.

Effective Ways to Deal with Complexity

Digital transformation programs can be very complex. The intelligence mandates simplicity. 

To be able to create simplicity, the core team must deal with many complex conditions and situations. This is a critical position where digital intelligence plays an important role.

Digitally intelligent team members have notable attributes to simplify things. They demonstrate advanced interpersonal capabilities with operative communication skills. They streamline processes, tools, designs and specifications.

Accelerated Intelligence with Agile Approach

Speed to market is a critical requirement for business organizations. To compete in the market, companies need to think, decide, and act with agility. 

Agility impacts all aspects of digital transformation initiatives. Projects must be planned, developed, and delivered with agility.

I coined the term accelerated intelligence, referring to the integral use of agility in the programs. For example, the reuse of design constructs is a significant accelerator. Intelligent reuse of assets can accelerate clearing the problems from backlogs.

Collaboration, Synergy, & Fusion

Collaboration plays a critical role in the success of digital transformation programs. The goal is to reach fusion with cooperation and synergistic actions. Fusion is an enhanced form of collaboration. We need unity to solve complex problems in these programs. 

The power of collaborating teams create fusion and transform the ecosystem. The compelling aspect of fusion and collaboration generate innovation which is essential for transforming digital ventures. 

Business and technical leaders of digital ventures must take advantage of collaboration by creating, maintaining, facilitating, and further improving the situations and status quo for the incidents.

Emerging Technology Stacks

Emerging technologies can enhance our digital intelligence. Their effective use in digital transformation programs adds excellent value to organizations. For example, the use of Cloud Computing empowers the programs. 

The Cloud Computing model made a paradigm shift in the technology world. 

Other emerging technology domains and processes are IoT (Internet of Things), digital twins, Edge Computing, cybersecurity, ethical hacking, enterprise architecture, business architecture, robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence.

Big Data Analytics, Data Platforms and Databases

Another remarkable technology domain is Big Data analytics. Data is essential in any digital and technological transformation. Big Data can enhance our digital intelligence providing new perspectives to solutions. Big Data also is a critical enabler of artificial intelligence. As a result, AI systems perform in more real-time. This article offers an approach on How To Deal With Big Data For AI? An Architectural Approach to Big Data Management.

Open Source

Some of the best for Big Data analytics come from open source. Open-source tools can be ideal for start-up companies with a tight technology budget. They are free and supported by collaborative technology communities. Apache products are prime examples of open source. 

Data platforms and databases are sources of digital intelligence. However, optimizing these platforms and sources require significant intelligence by using platform process, procedures and tools.

Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking

Cybersecurity is one of the critical domains in digital transformation initiatives. Dealing with cybersecurity require significant digital intelligence. Every aspect of technology and digital ventures relates to cybersecurity. Digital transformation initiatives use ethical hacking as a powerful method. 

Technology Mobility

Mobile technology stacks and tools are grown rapidly in digital transformation initiatives. A majority of consumers use smartphones, laptops, tablets, and wireless networks. Mobility is a foundational infrastructure and functional delivery for digital transformation. Managing mobile devices require significant digital intelligence. 

Digital Talent

Talent is critical for the success of digital transformation programs. Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) particularly focus on recruiting and keeping talent in their crucial projects. They empower digital talent using various leadership techniques. 

Mentoring and Coaching

Talents serve as mentors and coaches, but they also need mentoring and coaching in digital transformation programs. Mentorship is a crucial enabler of digital intelligence collaboratively. Transferring tacit knowledge in an organized and nurturing way can empower the capabilities of these programs. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Flexible governance of roles and responsibilities can enhance digital intelligence because digital ventures differ from traditional business organizations. They require a flat organizational structure instead of hierarchical business models.

Governance and Compliance

As digital transformation programs are complex and touch on many financial, commercial, and legal aspects, they require unique governance models to meet compliance requirements. Effective governance can improve compliance with rules and regulations at many levels. 

Exceptional Leadership

Technical leaders in digital transformation programs must lead with excellence rather than perfection. They demonstrate outstanding quality for the leaders by creating influence and making a significant impact on the followers. In addition, exceptional leadership require an effective risk-taking approach to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity. I documented 26 essential characters of excellent leaders in this article.

Conclusions

Digital intelligence is essential for anyone in this modern world. This unique intelligence can help us solve business and societal problems more effectively. It directly or indirectly contributes to the economy.  

Gaining digital intelligence requires substantial time and effort investment for individualists and business organizations. However, it is worth the effort. 

To save time for my readers, I summarized the key characteristics of digital intelligence in concluding remarks of the book in this article.

Thank you for reading my perspectives. 

Another version of this articles is published on Medium.

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