Are YOU Digitally Transformed? Part 1

Bouquinistes de Paris

Click here to view Part 2 of my digital journey

Do you have a personal Digital Transformation strategy? Do you make the best out of Digital Transformation in your personal life? This post will show you how Digital Transformation will both improve and greatly impact your private life.

Let me tell you about my own Digital Transformation and the things I experienced. How can I become a Digital Transformation evangelist if I barely use social media or cloud services in my own life?

It became evident that I needed to acquire greater Digital Transformation experience on a personal level. Too many SMBs—and even big enterprises—don’t use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to connect with their customers. Especially in B2B, you often find companies that don’t use social media at all. Many businesses are afraid of both the learning curve and attention required to execute a well-designed social media plan.

Look Into Cloud Services And Leverage The Opportunities

One year ago, I was pretty comfortable with my PC, printer, internet connection, a small NAS system, and tons of little external hard drives, etc. I bought another Synology NAS and placed it in my basement for daily backup. I prepared additional regular backups on hard drives from time to time, as I had done for many years.  At least I had a backup—unlike a friend of mine, who lost all of her pictures and data because the HD on her notebook failed.

Being on vacation always brought up problems. How can I access my data if I have to while I’m away? Because of this, I bought a new router with VPN capabilities. But it never worked flawlessly. Accessibility was poor, but at least I was able to access my data from my smartphone. This was a very awkward solution that did not even allow me to view photos.

Back then, risks of using Cloud solutions were paramount. But, like everything else in life, we need to balance risk with opportunity. As I wrote in my post, “Risks of Having Your Data in the Cloud vs. On-Premises”, the risk of having data on-premises is at least as high as in the Cloud. This is also true for my private data. Do you update your router on a regular basis? Probably not. In Germany, we had security issues in 2012 because the most popular routers allowed easy access to your data and network via Wi-Fi with a simple PIN.

Office 365 And OneDrive

O365

I have always used Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, etc. Since I also use Microsoft Office at work, freeware is not a good option. I have chosen an Office 365 plan that will give me 5 user licenses for 99 EUR per year, which I extend to my wife and kids.

Office 365 gives me:

  • 1 TB OneDrive Storage with Version history per user
  • I can use up to five devices (Notebook, Smartphone, Tablet) per user
  • The full Office suite—including Microsoft Access, which enables my Surface to work offline (as I have done in the past)
  • Excellent smartphone apps for both Android and iOS, giving unlimited access
  • If necessary, I can edit my documents online by just using a browser
  • I experience very fast, full text queries in all of my uploaded documents (including scanned PDFs)
  • Easy sharing of files, folders, and OneNote notebooks with family and friends

Cloud Storage

With Office 365, you have 1 TB of cloud storage per user, which is quite a lot. Since I use a small Synology NAS system, it was easy to sync it with OneDrive. I split my data into two segments:

  • Local files on my Surface
  • Files I have on my NAS system

The reason for this split is that I use a Surface that only comes with a 256GB hard drive. I have more data of course. I am also able to prevent the folder from syncing to my Surface, so the data from my NAS system won’t get synced back to my Surface.

Bandwidth considerations

Both are synced to the Cloud. To most of you, this is obvious: you need a very good Internet connection to copy a huge amount of data. I had a DSL 6000 connection with a downstream of 6,000 kbit/s and an upstream of 1,000 kbit/s. That, of course, not sufficient.

Here is a simple calculation: you can divide kbit/s by 10 to get kB/s. If you have an upstream of 1000 kbit/s you can upload a maximum of 100kB or 0.1MB or 0.0001 GB per second. Imagine, you have 100 GB of data you want to upload: 100 GB / 0.0001 GB/s = 1,000,000s = 280h = almost 12 days!

Upstream Full
This is what an initial upload of data can look like: 4MB per second, 14 GB per hour

I switched from 1,000kbit/s to effectively 42,000 kbit/s upstream. Now, 100GB are transferred within 7h. BTW, I didn’t even pay more, but simply changed the plan. I did need a new router though, since phone was switched to VoIP (Voice over IP).

What’s in it for me?

What I did not expect was that I immediately started to work on my files differently. Now I can easily access my files, even on my smartphone (e.g. if I need to look up something). Within the last ten years, I had to search desperately for these things. To me this mobility means freedom. I can access my data wherever I am.

Recently, I had to return a tool to my DIY store. I forgot the receipt. However, I was able to look it up on my smartphone by typing the name of the store into the search bar of OneDrive. Since I scan all of my receipts, it was there! All I needed to do was type in the name of the store and hit Search.

Security issues

First of all, this personal switch is mainly about trust. If I thought that I could not trust Microsoft or certain other providers, I would have to stop there. A lack of trust is something you cannot get around. I try to be very logical about this. If a company like Microsoft compromises their customers’ data in any way, this would cause them to lose business. Why would they put their business at risk?

This personal transformation is also about a “loss of control.” If I have my data in the Cloud, I am not in control anymore. But what does that mean? Am I really able to provide better security than Microsoft or AWS? What if a burglar steals my NAS systems? I would lose a significant amount of data. My data are pretty worthless to everyone, but extremely valuable to me. Now that I use the Cloud, I am safe. If someone steals the hard drives or NAS from my house, I may lose hardware, but not my data! When I weigh risk versus opportunity, the answer is clear to me.

Of course, we still have to look at security, especially if we utilize free services. I personally feel safer using Cloud services if I have to pay for them. In the end, someone will have to pay for it. The price might be my data.

Here is my advice when using Cloud services privately:

  • Don’t use the same credentials/passwords twice. I know…it’s uncomfortable. But if your credentials are ever stolen from a provider—and it will happen—the criminals will not be able to use them for other services.
  • I use a password safe called “KeyPass.” I have double encryption (password and encryption file), which gives me additional safety. Some go back to a little paper notepad. That’s also fine, but backup can be difficult in this case. It is a catch-22 situation: you can either use one password for all services, or a different password for each service, requiring more effort to manage the passwords.
  • You probably already use systems online over which you have little control. My BMW is equipped with “Connected Drive.” I can honk using my smartphone! If I just boarded a plane and suddenly remember that I forgot to lock the car, no problem. I can lock it with my phone. However, there is also a lot of scary stuff on the internet related to this.

There are inherent risks in all of these technologies. You can decide to minimize the risk, but you cannot avoid it completely. If you had lived in the Midwest at the end of the 18th century, you would have been prone to diseases we don’t even know anymore. You could have also been killed by a bullet. Today, Google knows a lot about you. If you don’t turn off the GPS on your smartphone, they even know where you’ve been. If you want to avoid that risk, you’d better throw away your smartphone, use only cash, and think twice before buying a “Smart TV.”

The risks have shifted over time, but they are still there. Weigh the risk and opportunity wisely!

In part 2 of my Digital Transformation journey, I will cover the importance of social media. Social media will significantly support your personal branding. Google yourself and see what others learn about you as a result. Being aware of Digital Transformation also means to be mature in social media.

Can you agree with my thoughts? I would love to see your comments on this article or reach out to me directly, using the contact form.

Click here to view Part 2 of my digital journey

About Alexander

Alexander Buschek is passionate about Digital Transformation and the opportunities it gives businesses—especially MSEs. He is convinced that every business has to embrace Digital Transformation in one way or another in order to survive. The sooner a business begins its Digital Transformation, the better. Alexander was the CIO / CDO of Braunschweiger Flammenfilter and CIO of Cherry GmbH. Prior to that he was an entrepreneur, consulting MSEs about IT strategies, providing external project management, and overseeing various IT projects (e.g. ERP and CAD implementation and migration). Working with many MSEs gave him a deep understanding of this market. Alexander is now Senior Director, Analyst (MSE) at Gartner.