Digitalization alone is NOT a cure all to our problems!

A recent post on LinkedIn said digitalization is an emergency because:

  • Health workers are feeling squeezed
  • People can’t find the housing they need
  • Farmers can’t find enough hours int he day
  • Manufacturing firms can’t find the workers they need

And while digitalization is an emergency for some businesses, DIGITALIZATION WON’T SOLVE ANY OF THESE PROBLEMS, because lack of is not the core issue. Since the poster is living in Montreal and the doctor is living in Halifax, we’ll focus on the source of the problem from a Canadian perspective, but the reality is that the majority of countries with these issues has the same source problems:

1) Today, 20% of Canadians don’t have a family doctor, compared to 2001 when it was only 13%. This is because, from 2001 to 2021 we saw a 23% population increase. In the same time, we saw a 12% decrease in health workers. (And things have only gotten worse since COVID, but StatsCan is always a couple of years behind. The Nurses association says we are short 60,000 nurses alone!)

2) The national vacancy rate is 1.5%! Year-over-year rent increases are 8%! One bedrooms in downtown Halifax are going for 2K a month! Pre COVID, they were 1K. Pricing is out of control across all major Canadian cities.

3) The days are the same length they’ve always been. What farmers can’t find is enough seasonal workers, despite the unemployment rate, because they can’t afford to pay seasonal workers a living wage. (And that’s why our migrant farm workers in the bigger provinces are essentially facing modern slavery conditions, as per a UN report.)

4) Manufacturers can’t find the workers they need because of a lack of SKILLED workers. Everything is going tech, but yet our STEM graduate rates in Canada hover around 22%! That’s 1 in 5. But if you don’t have decent math, computer, and electronic equipment skills, you don’t have the skills a manufacturer needs.

Thus, it doesn’t matter how much digitization you apply or how good the systems are, we still have the fundamental problems that:

1) it takes a doctor a certain amount of time to properly diagnose a patient, a surgeon a certain amount of time to do a surgery, a nurse time to put in the IV, check the vitals, talk to the patient to do a cognitive assessment, etc. THOSE TIMES CAN NOT BE SHORTENED.

2) We need to BUILD more housing. We need to at least DOUBLE the vacancy rate so that the housing is WHERE it is needed in a market that is COMPETITIVE and REMAINS AFFORDABLE.

3) We need to HALT INFLATION, reduce farm taxes, bring back critical subsidies (and not invent new “grocery taxes” to halt greed mongering, the CEOs will just hike prices for consumers in the end), and make farm work a living wage again.

4) We need to promote and train for STEM.

Only then will digitization help because all it can do is

1) minimize the downtime between seeing patients

2) help people find those affordable units faster and submit applications faster and do the background checks faster

3) help farmers minimize their planning and “back office” operational time

4) help manufacturers get the most from the skilled employees they hire (but there IS a limit on productivity increases)

This is because, as the doctor has said time and time again, all computers are good for is thunking, not thinking, and all Gen-AI does is exacerbate problems because you don’t know if the sh!t it is making up (that’s what generative means — make stuff up) is correct or not! As a result, they can be great at automating tactical data processing and bring the following benefits:

1) centralized country-universal health records, integrated systems, and remote home/self care support — if a nurse or doctor can instantly get all the data on your history they need, they can review it all before seeing you, assess with knowledge, and get to a likely correct diagnosis, and treatment faster; also, if they never have to rekey existing data and just add to the record, it’s less time between patients

2) better three-way support for landlords to find tenants and comply with legislation, tenants to find properties that meet their needs and keep landlords honest (with reviews and instant reports to), regulators who can ensure everyone is using the system properly and fairly

3) easy planning, monitoring, management, and farm-tech selection best suited to the needs of the farm workers based on farm size, location, produce/livestock, and workforce

4) better procurement, production planning, (up)skill(ing) maintenance, design, testing, etc. — maximize every hour on engineering stuff, not back-office paper pushing

But none of this solves the core problems we have or helps if the workers aren’t there to begin with!