The Digital Worker, Episode 1: Overview

For years and years, and since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, workers had only had one work scenario: Report to work at 9:00 AM, do the tasks assigned by your direct manager, and leave at 5:00 PM.

The advent of the Internet, and especially the recent proliferation of mobile data, have brought about another revolution, which we wouldn’t call the Information Revolution. That has taken its course since the invention of the first computer. It is handing over the keys to something new and disturbing. A combination of multimedia communication anytime, anywhere, social media, broadband network coverage, and devices that can handle unthinkable amounts of data in real-time, have made it possible for a new phenomenon to emerge: The Digital Worker.

The dynamics of ‘work’ have dramatically changed for a large sector of the workforce.

The ‘Digital Worker’ no longer needs to report to work at 9:00 AM and leave at 5:00 PM. He/she does not even need a traditional workspace: An office, a cubicale, or even a desk. All they need is a ‘machine’ and an Internet connection. Hence the new terminology: Anywhere, Anytime.

Teams can meet virtually. Projects may have members in Iceland, South Africa, India, Canada, or South Korea. And those are just examples to convey what ‘anywhere, anytime’ looks like.

How about products and services? Physical products that consumers request. How can that be achieved digitally?

A new e-Commerce model has emerged, which is called drop-shipping. The Digital Worker runs an online ‘store,’ which show products’ images, specs, videos, prices, and of course, digital cart and checkout facilities.

Customers place orders right at the digital store. In the background, suppliers receive those orders automatically, once placed, process and fulfill them on behalf of the Digital Worker, right to the customer’s doorstep. Read more about this model in a previous TWM post: How to Choose the Right Product.

To offer a service, Digital Workers must be highly innovative. Let’s take medicine as an extreme example, which has always required the physical co-presence of the patient and the heathcare provider.

Well, that is no longer a rigid requirement. Telemedicine has soften that need by allowing doctors and patients to communicate virtually, in realtime. Physicians can diagnose and prescribe remotely. On the farside of the spectrum, a surgeon would perform an operation via telemedicine, using virtual reality and robotics technologies. You can read more about telemedicine in a previous WTM article: Reaching Out to Patients: Telemedicine.

It is hard to comprehensively cover all aspects of The Digital Worker’s attributes, work environment, rewards and challenges, in one article.

In the next post, we will explore with you the last two aspecs mentioned above: Rewards and challenges.

Stay tuned.


© Image Credit: Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash


Telemedicine: A Brief History

In the mid-Nineties, telemedicine had started gaining attention and investment of time, money and energy by top-tier universities and healthcare institutions, especially in the US.

The two major practices utilizing telemedicine were radiology and pathology, giving rise to what was referred to as tele-radiology and tele-pathology, respectively.

In tele-radiology, a hard-copy of an X-Ray film would be scanned to produce a digital image. The image is compressed, stored on an image database, then transmitted over leased telephone lines to a reading center. These centers were members of a telemedicine network, offering second opinions on cases from locations that didn’t have the same level of medical expertise as the one available at the remote medical institution. Everyday, a radiologist at the reading center would view yesterday’s cases on proprietary, large monitors, make an assessment, then send back a consultation over fax lines to the requesting physician. Discussions of the consultation would take place over the phone between the two physicians/specialists, if needed.

Tele-Pathology worked in a similar fashion, yet both required specialized, usually large-sized equipment, trained staff, and long time for the whole process to conclude. A single X-ray sheet would take 40-60 minutes, between the time scanning started till the image would reach the reading center.

Today that has become history. Starting from having medical images already in digital format, which eliminated the need for scanning hard-copies, to the ultra speed, ubiquity and packet-switched architecture of the Internet, which cancelled the need to lease telecom circuits. A simple telemedicine session could take place between a doctor and a patient over a Skype video call. Expensive circuit-switching is replaced by cheap/available packet-switching.


In future posts we will shift the focus to a specific telemedicine service: Tele-Neurology Service (TNS).

The Wealth Maker