Factfulness and Digital Transformation


Do you know how many new people are connected to the internet every day? Or how fast a blockchain transaction is? Or how many songs are streamed on Spotify in an hour? Or where most of the smartphones on the globe are? Do you know how far we, the people of planet Earth, have progressed in digital transformation already? Test yourself with thirteen questions on the current state of digital technology, and learn if your conceptions of the digital world match the latest facts.

To get to where you want to go, you need to know where you are now. This is true for individuals and organisations, as I argued in my previous article on the first step of digital transformation. But it is just as true for the world at large. So, it helps to know the facts. And in presenting some of these facts, I’ve taken my cue from Factfulness, one of last year’s international bestsellers.


In Factfullness, Hans Rosling and his co-authors Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund state that in order to make informed decisions about how to act in today’s world, you need to know what state the world is in. Looking at the world from a socio-economic perspective, they noticed that people underestimate the progress made in the last decades.

They tested various groups of people throughout the world and found that we systematically get basic facts about the world wrong. Facts such as what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school. And not only do we get a lot of facts wrong, we do worse than if we had chosen our answers at random.

The book delves into an explanation why this happens, and offers ten instincts that distort our perspective. It’s an interesting read and I can recommend it to everyone. Both the book and the accompanying website www.gapminder.org/, where you can take the test about basic global facts for yourself. Furthermore, the site is a treasure trove of global data, data visualisation, and teaching materials.

The state of digital transformation

Now, on to digital transformation. Inspired by Factfulness and the Gapminder Test I decided to look at the state of digital transformation in 2019 and put some of this information in the form of a quiz. It’s a fun, but informative way to learn some stats about our digital world.

From various reports, surveys, and statistical overviews, I compiled some interesting facts on different topics touching the digital revolution. Some are about its fundaments—the internet, mobility, social media, cloud computing. Some are about the technologies that emerged out of these—IoT, blockchain, artificial intelligence. Some I found obvious, some surprising.

I suppose most people won’t get the trend of digital transformation wrong. We generate more and more data, get more and more devices, use more and more digital technology. But how much more? And how much is it today?

Now, for the test…

OK, ready to take the test? Interested to see if your ideas are in synch with these times, still linger in the past, or are a vision of the world to come?

Oh, yes, about the answers. They’re below question 13. So, don’t scroll too fast if you don’t want to peek!

Here we go ...