Becoming technology enabled

On the journey to digital transformation, there is a world of difference between organisations that are technology-dependent and those that are technology enabled. Where an organisation is heavily dependent upon its IT infrastructure but lacks the agility necessary to turn this into a competitive advantage to support or scale so they can overcome the challenges of digital disruption.


In 2019, we reported on the success of the busy Hall Green health practice in Birmingham, where new technology was helping the team there to transform the patient experience. Smart call handling – including the innovative use of KPI wallboards – plus on-going data analysis unlocked a faster, better service both in terms of coping with demand and driving up performance around appointments, test results and prescription delivery. Complaints dropped, practice resource was better utilised, and cost-efficiency maximised as everything coalesced around prioritising the patient.


A year later we reported on how we were helping tens of thousands of healthcare staff securely get online from home as lockdown hit – in some cases, literally overnight. And that’s the two sides of technological enablement right there – from the visionary stuff that’s focused on value outcomes for customers and patients, to the agile moves that keep people able to work and be productive regardless of circumstances.


The reason for citing these two examples is simply to highlight possibilities. Yes, the catalysts might be polar opposites – a desire to improve on the one hand, the imperative to function on the other – but both projects demonstrate just what is possible when will and technology come together.


The last six months have no parallel obviously but what has been remarkable has been organisations’ resilience and ability to respond. There has been massive acceleration across digital: one CTO of our acquaintance summed it up when he said that his company ‘had achieved in two weeks what they’d been talking about for two years’. So enablement and digital transformation are perfectly possible – with or without the prompt of a pandemic.


Unfortunately, too often the will to change is frustrated. Surveys still highlight spending levels of 70-80% of the IT budget on Keeping The Lights On (KTLO) activities – that leaves little money or focused resource to devote to the sort of innovation that will increase the value that IT delivers.


Vanson Bourne recently surveyed 900 CIOs, IT leaders, and financial decision-makers from around the globe; some 89% of respondents thought that their organisation ought to be spending more on innovation, while 77% believed that spending too much on KTLO is a major obstacle for their organisation.


Given that reality, it’s even more incumbent upon IT decision makers to back the right transformation project – there’s not a lot of scope for failure. Since March, IT teams have been wearing capes (and masks!) as they’ve successfully mobilised millions. It’s been a heroic effort but as we move on from the Covid response era, they need to find new super powers to balance the pull of KTLO with the push for more enablement.

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