Thoughts

True Digital Transformation

Most UK Universities and FE Colleges are trying to get to grips with some flavour of digital transformation. Many are still struggling to get to first base: secure, resilient, functional core systems that expose data and services in ways that can be easily consumed. These are not easy systems to specify, procure, implement, configure and support. Many Student Record Systems and CRM projects are abandoned two years in and can take up to five years to fully implement. This understandably makes the Executive reluctant to release further funding, and the transfomation programme stalls, without having really transformed any aspect of University life.

Most digital transformation frameworks incorporate these three strands of transformational activity in some form:

  • Core systems optimisation
  • User (internal and external) experience transformation
  • New and disruptive business models implementation

It is intuitively clear that there is a hierarchy, if not of absolute dependency, then at least of sustainable dependency between the three components. Value is delivered by each component in its own right: operational efficiencies, reduced customer churn and diversifying revenue streams would be an example of value that each component can deliver; and the first two components also provide enabling value for the next component in the hierarchy.

At each stage of the digital transformation journey, some part of the change portfolio should be allocated to each component*. Why? Often, many of the benefits of core systems optimisation do not have a high level of visibility at Exec level: the absence of a security breach is rarely noticed! It’s only when we use technology to truly transform the user experience and introduce new business models that the Exec really gets sustainably behind the programme.

And what could be more transformative than changing the way we interact with the technology that supports almost every aspect of our lives ?

Ever since the days of WordPerfect DOS 5.1 and Lotus 123 our way of interacting with technology has beeen through a screen and keyboard. Windows introduced the mouse and mobile introduced the touch screen and soft keyboard. Yet in many ways we are still using the metaphor of a typewriter for input and teletext for output.

Voice changes everything. It provides a much more natural and simple way to interact. Most of us can talk better than we can type, and we don’t need the friction of switching on a laptop or thumbing through a phone screen to find a suitable app for the task in hand. It’s good to simply talk !

*the above is an extract from a blog post on this topic by ambiently founder Rob Moores. The full post can be found at https://robmoores.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/digital-transformation-portfolios/