How journalists investigations leverage #digital #technology highlights an important task of #DigitalTransformation projects: most of the work requires converting paper records to digital – this is…

New York City did not have reliable digital data on medallion sales, so I used paper records to build a database of all the 10,888 sales between 1995 and 2018. The city taxi commission had never analyzed the financial records submitted by medallion buyers, so I did. Nobody knew how many medallion owners had gone bankrupt because of the crisis, so I convinced my boss to pay a technology company, Epiq, to create a program that sped through court records and spat out a tentative list — and then two news assistants helped me verify every result.

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WHY IT MATTERS: digital transformation project always sound great until you start planning the work to be done. Then you realize how old computer systems are, how bad databases and their information really is, and often how much work there is to digitize the data that you need. Sometimes you are lucky, the data is already in digital format, in a file or an excel spreadsheet somewhere (most probably not one but many). But often you have to create it yourself. Armies of content creators work for months to create the texts in your typical corporate website. Months are spend shooting pictures (and now videos) or products in elaborate digital studios (one of the primary cost of eCommerce setup and operations). Then, often, you have to create the pipeline to carry this new digital content from the source (say the photo studio) to the website, which requires custom software and scripts.

*THIS* is where digital projects often ail or bust their deadlines and budgets. Now, consider yourself warned for your next project! 😉

Farid Mheir