Upgrading to digital: which way?

I’ve always been very curious and passionate about technology. It may seem obvious for those who, like me, graduated in engineering. However, despite my degree and my passion, I have perceived over the years a growing gap between my digital skills and the state of technology.
At the time of my graduation (1984), when I was programming in Pascal on punched cards, the world was just beginning to change. It was the beginning of personal computing, a key component of the ongoing third industrial revolution.
Although new technologies were disruptive and would forever change the way we live and work, I did not feel their pressure. I could easily follow the trends and stay updated. Everything happened step by step.

In the last decade, however, with the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, its data “deluge” and the cohort of revolutionary, accelerating platforms, it was much more difficult to keep up. And despite the progressive, natural addiction to some technologies, like “mobile”, with the infinity of applications and the power of the Internet on a touchscreen, in many organizations the smartphone would still be used as a simple phone.

I therefore took the opportunity of a work transition to devote myself full-time to a personal technological overhaul with the aim of acquiring a 360 ° view of the digital landscape. And since I believe that without getting your hands dirty you cannot progress much, I rolled up my sleeves and headed towards very practical training courses.
I started in digital marketing. We all know how to fiddle with Facebook and with a browser, but if we need to apply these technologies in the workplace, it’s quite a different story.
I then moved on to digital fabrication and rapid prototyping. Six months of Fab Academy opened up a world for me. I played with many technologies, with an open-source approach: 3D printing, building and programming electronic boards, IOT, web programming, 3D scanning, communication protocols, CAD-CAM. And I discovered how much information and knowledge is freely shared on the web. Discussion forums, community of developers and makers, dedicated platforms. A true democratization of making.

I then ventured into the world of MOOCs, the “massive online open courses” and discovered to my surprise that they are are really much more than simple courses. Great quality of content, learning tests, discussion forum and community on social media, cross review of exercices between students with a lot of practice attached. And then the interaction with the instructors.
I experienced great sessions with thousands of participants from all over the world. Definitely, training today should no longer be a problem. I now fully embraced the new mantra of training: make theory at home, with MOOCs and then head to the classroom or the office for practice and group activities.

In my wealth of knowledge I added Data Science with an introduction to Big Data (MOOC University of San Diego), Industry 4.0 (MOOC University of New York and short master Federmanager Academy for the certification of Innovation Manager), a touch of Python for Data Science (DataCamp platform) and more with JavaScript, the language of the web (MOOC University of London). I ventured and got passionate in Augmented and Virtual Reality with a MOOC by the University of Nantes. I hadn’t realized before the enormous potential of the technology. I’m now diving deeper into the subject with Unity and Unreal Engine, the animation engines for the visualization of components for architecture, product design and manufacturing, and started creating “immersive” applications.
(I must confess, at this point, for patriotism, to have suffered the inaction of Italian organizations in the MOOCs landscape …).

I have to admit it. I’m really satisfied with the result. I deeply enjoy studying. But everything evolves, quickly, and there’s the need for continuous learning. Hopefully, there are plenty of tools available.
Now, with my new perspective of the digital landscape on top of thirty years of business experience, I finally realize, with much greater clarity, the dynamics of an effective and accessible digital transformation.

I can only but encourage anyone who wants to dive deeper into this fantastic world. It is not necessary, nor actually possible, to learn everything. But I think it is desirable to get a basic knowledge of the different concepts, especially for those who, in their function, stir the direction of a company or a department.
As Primo Levi, the Italian writer and holocaust survivor, once said: “If understanding is impossible, knowing is imperative…“.

I wish you good learning!

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