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The economics of the Digital Transformation – XXII

The complexity of accessing to knowledge and of “understanding” can be (partly) delegated to a person’s CDT. This CDT can interact with DTs of an entity as well as with the CDT encapsulating knowledge of a set of entities (like instances). Additionally, external knowledge can be integrated by the person’s CDT and the resulting knowledge adapted to the context and to the person’s capabilities and experience.

Delegation of functions to the CDT for interaction in the company cyberspace

Once at level IV a CDT can act autonomously in a company cyberspace to make knowledge available to company’s resources. These resources can be other CDTs and employees.

A CDT may interact with other company’s CDT searching for a specific knowledge. Let’s take as an example the CDT of a blue-collar worker engaged in the repair of an engine. This CDT may interact directly with the Digital Twin of the engine and update its knowledge set (or establishing a pairing with the engine’s DT) and funnel this knowledge through the worker using AR glasses. The key point here is that by having the CDT interacting with the engine DT a mediation can take place, adapting the presentation of data/information of the engine to the skill of that particular worker.

In case of a direct access to the engine DT any worker will be presented exactly with the same data whilst in case CDTs are used each one will deliver a customised version to the worker. In principles two workers having different background will be receiving different representations thus making the knowledge transfer more effective.

This adaptation/customisation means more efficiency, lower cost and better results. At the same time the interaction with customised knowledge makes continuous learning more effective. From the point of view of company’s resource management this introduces much more flexibility in resource allocation since more resources become available to perform a given task.

On the other hand, this opens up a number of issues like:

  • data are no longer factual since their presentation changes based on the receiver and on the receiver context. This might seem a big issue since two workers doing the same job may claim that they have taken certain decision because of the data presented and since those data where not the same one could not, in principle, demand the decisions to be the same.
    However, the subjectivity is intrinsic in people’s understanding of data (depending on their previous experience, knowledge, and perception of the context). What happens with the use and delegation to a CDT of the transfer of knowledge is that this subjectivity is made clear.
  • Some decisions are moved to the CDT, like what data are requested: a worker in a normal maintenance activity may access the whole manual of the engine and may be some maintenance checklists, whilst the CDT may immediately zoom in a specific set of data that would make more sense, thus shortening the consultation time. The CDT may take the decision on what data to retrieve and to present based on experience gained by other CDTs instances, ie other workers having done that activity before on other engines and inferencing from that what are the data needed.
  • The split of decision between the CDT and the person calls in the issue of responsibility. This is not a trivial point and processes have to be designed to take this into account. Again, it is not necessarily a completely new issue. If a worker takes decision based on instructions/data found in a manual and it turns out that decision is wrong because the manual was wrong (not up to date, errors in the manual…) there is the issue of responsibility (and most of the times it turns out to be a multiparty responsibility: the writer of the manual, people that did not check its correctness, did not updated it, the training of the worker that should have prepared him to detect the error… and so on).
  • The de-qualification of the worker whose activity intelligence/skill is now shared with the CDT making the owned personal intelligence/skill slightly less relevant (that activity, thanks to the delegation of function to the CDT can now be performed by many other workers, including those having lower skills/knowledge and therefore –at least in principle- earning a lower salary.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.