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John McMahon, Product Director, IEG4

Digital transformation is the buzzword on every business leaders mind – those who are serious about improving operational efficiency and driving innovation. Remaining competitive in an increasingly disrupted world is a challenge, but implementing the right strategy, with the right technology and people in place, can transform a business from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

 

People have different definitions for digital transformation because the phrase has become used as a ‘catch-all’ for any kind of computerised solution that changes the way people do things – changing the way people do things is what computerised solutions have always done. What IEG4 believes is that the aim of any organisation should be to use digital technology (and by that, do we simply mean computing?) to improve the processes and/or ensure the users experiences are designed in such a way that users find it compelling.

Digital Transformation is about ensuring the way most people want to use a service is less painful, saves time and happens to be digital.

In IEG4’s marketplace of local government, there is a massive difference in adoption of digital technology as a means to improve services whilst becoming more efficient. I see small district councils who are light years ahead of some of the big metropolitan councils – where any improvements from the use of digital technology would be the greatest due to the size and demographics. Sometimes this is brought on by a reluctance to start something (despite easily achievable efficiencies being available) until every single use case has been thought through and every single potential user catered for – quite an old-school way of thinking. This means that those organisations are missing out on catering for 90% of the population and the 90% of associated savings.

Where there is a business case, digital technology can transform the service that a local government organisation offers to its citizens, whilst also saving it money.

Within local government, actually ones that are already proven e.g. in the banking, retail and food delivery sectors.

I believe it is less about technology and more about the attitude of providing the best possible service.

Our insights show that smarter chatbots that enable conversational interactions with customers is the future. Not only in terms of answering customer questions but future online forms being conversations.

When the service that is transformed is one already provided to citizens, our customers have found that there is already a demand for digital services waiting to be tapped. Our customers have found that word of mouth is a major factor in the rapid adoption of these services – once a member of your own peer group suggests a new way of doing something is better than the old way, then that can be very powerful.

No coercion is required, consumers and citizens recognise when the convenience and other benefits of digital outweigh or improves upon than face-to-face or telephone, interactions.

The culture shift that may be required in some organisations is one away from ‘testing to death’ to an acceptance that whilst a solution may not be all things to all men from day one, savings will occur, and the exceptions can be catered for without compromising the service.

Of course, it is important to align digital transformation with wider business/organisation transformation. But it must be equally important not to forego immediate efficiency savings whilst waiting for an organisational-wide strategy to be put together. As we move away from proprietary systems to a world where software suppliers like IEG4 are offering open APIs, there is no reason to delay ‘tactical transformation’ where a clear business case exists in any given part of an organisation.

A digital-first approach is essential for any organisation which wants to make its services the ones that consumers want to use. Both citizens and consumers have shown that the digital channel is one that they prefer. If your local government organisation doesn’t offer it, you are likely to be providing a service that doesn’t meet the demands of your citizens. If you are a private company, it is likely your potential customers have already gone elsewhere.

Indeed, at IEG4 our strategy focuses on helping our clients achieve Digital Ubiquity. Digital by Default is simply an aspiration- Digital Ubiquity is a goal.

Some worry about what impact will it have on the workforce and wonder if they will need to be up-skilled. In my opinion though, I don’t think this will need to happen.The workforce is probably already enjoying the services of digitally transformed organisations – banks, retailers, hot food delivery – already. The workforce will ‘get it’. And probably wonder why it’s not happened sooner.