ISYS8621: HOW DO I CHANGE THE WAY OF VIEWING TECHNOLOGY?

Being a software development engineer holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science, I have already got used to being actively engaged in digital technologies in my daily life, from cryptocurrencies to cloud services, from social networks to platforms and ecosystems. Understanding the technology used behind the scenes was usually my primary focus when learning new technology. The most enjoyable moment of being an engineer, from my perspective, was that you are capable of building whatever you want in your mind when there is no such technology or applications available in the market. That is why I am enthusiastic about discussing and explaining technology all the time. In 2019, two years after working at Amazon Web Service, I realized that I need to move forward.

Before talking about the reasons why I take digital transformation and why this is the only “data and tech” course I’m taking during my entire MBA, let me introduce the technology I have built with my teammates during my work at AWS. The reasons why it exists, the problem this technology solves, and the impact of solving such problems in the business world.

I believe a lot of people have discussed or probably heard cloud service, cloud computation, cloud A, cloud B, etc.. almost everything can be created by cloud nowadays, but what exactly is the Cloud? I’ll explain “cloud” from an engineer’s world. Thinking about cloud as a virtually centralized but geographically distributed data centers across the world, hosting tons of clusters and servers in the datacenters. Instead of purchasing these laptops upfront and store them in your apartment, you can rent one on the website and access the resource remotely whenever you want to use one of the resources in these datacenters.

The on-demand pricing model helps companies to only pay the number of resources they use. You are charged by the “pay-as-you-go” pricing. You are not charged by the time/service you do not use. The cloud service, consequently, helps a lot of businesses save tons of costs on purchasing the hardware and building/maintaining the infrastructures. For example, using cloud service, companies would not pay the electricity fees otherwise they have to pay when no one was not using the servers. The resources can be allocated to those who needed the most. The flexibility of cloud service allows companies to build different solutions to fulfill different business requirements.

Source: https://hsc.com/Resources/Blog/What-Makes-AWS-Amazon-Web-Services-the-Market-Leader-in-Cloud-Services

The graph below shows the product we build, an application of cloud service. Amazon Pinpoint is a flexible and scalable outbound and inbound marketing communications service. Users can connect with customers over channels like email, SMS, push, or voice. Amazon Pinpoint is easy to set up, easy to use and is flexible for all marketing communication scenarios. Segment your campaign audience for the right customer and personalize your messages with the right content. Delivery and campaign metrics in Amazon Pinpoint measure the success of your communications. With Amazon Pinpoint, you don’t need to worry about designing/building/maintaining your solutions to engage with your customers in an efficient, reliable, and scalable way.

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/pinpoint/

However, understanding the architectures and designs behind the technology is not sufficient to help a company complete digital transformation efficiently and successfully. I remember when I was back in China, I was helping my fathers’ company migrate their old-fashioned workflow and communication systems to completely digitalized cloud systems. Although I’m not worried about the technology integration process, there were tons of operational obstacles, employees’ complaints, strategic problems from different departments across the company. Solving these problems is way complicated and inconvenient beyond the technology itself we are migrating to. From then I understand how crucial and important the technology and business strategies’ alignment is. How many painful moments we have to go through together to have a successful migration. Being able to explain the benefit to different stakeholders is another challenge for me.

Source: https://itpeernetwork.intel.com/intels-digital-transformation/#gs.sjh9qe

I realized that it is time for me to change the way of thinking about technology. Instead of focusing on the tech itself, I need to understand business alignment, technology fits, to convey the information to the different audience. I hope this class will allow us to discuss all of these topics/problems I encountered during last digital transformation experience.

3 comments

  1. williammooremba · ·

    Great blog post. The insight into thinking about aspects other than technology being central to digital transformation really resonated with me. One of the reasons I studied engineering was a love of problem solving. When I started working, I realized the technical or engineering aspect was only a component of solving real-world problems. The desire to think about problems broadly and make an impact was a huge reason I decided to join BC’s MBA program. I think you were able to get a similar insight. Based on my initial impression it seems like this class is a good fit for further exploring this.

  2. shaneriley88 · ·

    Lewis- Great post. Last night’s class really hit on a few of your points. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into the cultural and strategic ramifications of dx with you. I’ll never forget our small group work in MP&O when you used AWS to support some simulations for a group. It was fascinating to a non-computer science type!

  3. Thank you for sharing your work from Amazon Web Service and explaining how cloud services operate. Also very interesting to learn about your first-hand experience digital transforming an older company and dealing with operational challenges that come with it. I agree that integrating technology is more than the technology itself, companies must approach it holistically and must consider other factors such as talent and business strategies. I am looking forward to learning from your perspectives as an engineer this semester!

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