📅 June 03 - June 09 | Real “Digital Transformation” and what it looks like

Another week done with a flurry of activity more towards the end of the week than in the middle.

I’ve been working with a client, helping one of their clients implement some basic first steps in digital transformation. Conversely to others, when I talk about Digital Transformation, I’m being very specific in my definition. I’ve talked much about the uses and abuses of the term, and it seems that I am still swimming against the current. Anyway, back to what Digital Transformation really means for MSMEs.

The company deals with several bills and invoices and requires a more robust tracking and analysis system. The basic workflow is understood, but the tools currently used are a mix of manual, brain storage, and other shoestring systems. As part of the work, the end users documented the process from start to finish, taking into consideration as much as possible. My role involved re-documenting this workflow and translating it into a technical specification, then proposing a technical solution that met the customer requirements. I then set up a PoC and demonstrated it to the client, who approved it with a few modifications. This week was the setup of the system and putting it into the clients’ hands for testing before generalisation. As always in these types of projects, the act of setting it up for actual use (even as a test) provoked some discussions where the client thought of things that were initially forgotten and things that would be “nice to have”. I’ll work on some of that in the coming days and weeks.

However, what is startling is that when you start to work closely with an organisation, you see the enormous opportunity to help them digitalise the most basic of systems that are scrabbled together. This work can provide tangible benefits to the businesses for a minimal outlay.

Much of it can be done by purchasing specialised applications, but generally, those applications are too sophisticated and not adapted to the inner workings of MSMEs. I aim to get those businesses using tools specifically adapted to them with little to no outlay on extra software.


Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last year or two, you’ve no doubt encountered a plethora of articles about generative AI (genAI) and how it is going to “change everything”. I don’t believe it. Development and capacity have considerably slowed over the last nine to twelve months, indicating that in its current form, these LLMs (Large Language Models) are nearing the end of their run. I also think we humans are getting much better at spotting their weaknesses. We are uncannily adept at this, having hundreds of thousands of years of development and practice structured in our brains. The following article I forgot to link to previously is a good primer on what is actually going on inside an LLM.1

A much deeper look from Stephen Wolfram can be found online.2

If there is one computing platform that changed everything for me, it was the Commodore Amiga. I keep threatening to write a deep dive into the origins and outcomes of one of the most sophisticated computers the world had ever seen at the time. It is, unfortunately, no surprise to hear that the curse that has plagued the platform continues.3

When using the internet, most of us do not think about the infrastructure that allows us to stream music, communicate in real-time, etc. Only when that goes bad do we realise that infrastructure is essential. When a ship sank off the coast of Yemen, damaging undersea cables that affected millions of users of the Internet, it caused political disputes over access to the waters for the ships tasked with repairing the damage.4 I would recommend this issue of The Continent for an extensive article on life onboard the ships that fix the Internet for us, in what are surely very difficult circumstances.5

Lastly, this discussion about the ownership rights of genAI-generated code is a good example of the minefield upon us. Let’s not even start to contemplate what it means to cybersecurity!6

Have a great week.

  1. https://arstechnica.com/ai/2024/05/heres-whats-really-going-on-inside-an-llms-neural-network/ ↩︎

  2. https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2023/02/what-is-chatgpt-doing-and-why-does-it-work/ ↩︎

  3. https://www.osnews.com/story/139733/company-behind-amiga-os-4-seems-to-be-either-going-or-is-in-fact-bankrupt/ ↩︎

  4. https://circleid.com/posts/20240508-yemens-submarine-cable-repairs-hindered-by-political-dispute ↩︎

  5. https://www.thecontinent.org/_files/ugd/287178_3df7d9df092d49a89d01dd2c28778b52.pdf ↩︎

  6. https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2024/05/15/ai_coding_complications/ ↩︎

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen