Book review: Digital transformation using emerging technologies

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In October 2021, I ordered a copy of this book because of my interest in digital transformation. In the next paragraphs, I will focus on some of the highlights and key take-aways for me on a chapter-by-chapter basis.

The first chapter starts with a plethora of information on what digital transformation comprises. It provides a lot of statistical data and real-life examples that help everybody getting an overview on digital transformation. The key take-away for me from this chapter is that digital transformation must look at business models and processes first rather than starting with purely technology solutions.

Chapter 2 focuses on cloud computing as the enabler of the digital transformation. It explains and highlights different cloud strategies, models but also provides information on challenges and things to look out for. The key take-away for me here is that on average approx. 30% of cloud costs are wasted. Against the background of that rather large number, numerous tips and information is provided how to minimize this potential waste.

The third chapter provides a deep dive into the available Azure cloud services and focuses more on people with an IT background. Personally, I found the sections on serverless services and container services most interesting. One might disagree with my view on the most favorite sections of this chapter. That is because of the last section on Azure hybrid cloud services, which has much practice relevance especially for companies that operate on-prem and cloud services in parallel.

Chapter 4 focuses on machine learning and started with a general introduction what people/roles are involved in machine learning implementation projects. It explains a number of business use cases and provides a kick-start for Azure machine learning. While this is what one might expect from a book on digital transformation, the authors surprised me in the later sections of this chapter. What surprised me is the focus on challenges and future developments of machine learning where issues such as biases, ethical issues and practical implementation hurdles were discussed in detail.

A chapter on artificial intelligence (AI) follows the one on machine learning. This chapter follows a similar structure as the previous one and highlights benefits and business use cases of artificial intelligence applications. After analyzing the Azure AI platform, challenges and risks of using artificial intelligence are addressed. What I found quite interesting – and what is my key take-away from this chapter – is the fact that around 28% of all AI initiatives failed in the past mainly because of a lack of staff with the necessary expertise, a lack of production ready data and the lack of integrated development environments. Corporations that plan to invest in AI should put a special focus on the techniques mentioned in this book to avoid such failures.

The next chapter focuses on the Internet of Things (IOT). It starts with a general introduction and explanation of IOT and then provides a number of business specific use cases. I liked that section very much because it provides a lot of examples how IOT applications can support creating a better, more sustainable world, for example by optimizing traffic, minimizing food spoilage, etc. Similar to the previous chapters, the chapter on IOT highlights some of the key challenges one needs to look out for when implementing IOT in practice.

The last chapter of the book focuses on blockchain technology. As an interested IT & environmental ‘activist’, I already knew a lot of things about blockchain and possible applications especially for sustainability purposes. Yet, even for me there were some new things to learn here especially when the authors talk about new baseline protocols to link and reconcile separate applications and new techniques that make existing SQL database records tamper-proof. The chapter closes with some guidance on when and when not to use blockchain technology and challenges that one might face when implementing blockchains.

Overall, I liked the book very much and believe that it provides a very good reference guide for those who want to get started or extend their digital transformation journey.