Think business integration, not systems integration for transformation success

Organisations can deliver the full benefits of digital transformation and ensure their workforce learns and grows alongside the latest tools by focusing on business integration and embedding a dynamic can-do culture, according to Claire Mutter, Managing Consultant for business change at Agilisys.

The ability of digital to rapidly transform our services and adapt to changing markets is clear – and much publicised. However, talk to organisations across the public sector and it’s clear that the failure rate of technology integration is still too high, suggesting we need to look at digital transformation in a completely different way. One that embraces business change.

For too long, we’ve focused on the technology itself. How do we change that technology to suit our needs? How do we adapt it to what we need to do? We simply cannot do that anymore. The speed at which technology is coming to the market, the upgrades that are occurring and the developments that are happening, require us to flip thinking on its head. We need to look at how we adapt and change our organisations and the staff that work for them, to be able to embrace digital tools quickly, safely and seamlessly. If we want to extract the maximum value from digital advancements, we have to take it quickly.

The aviation industry is a good example. If the only focus was on getting a plane into the air and flying it safely, without preparing the runway or the airport, that plane would never land safely, it would be a catastrophe. We need to take the same mindset with technology in the public sector.

We are in a world where we don’t have to wait for 18-months for a new solution. We can drop new tools every few months. So, isn’t it better, just like the airports do, to work with our staff and train them to be able to embrace multiple scenarios, get used to digital technologies, and have more of a dynamic mindset? So that when those tools arrive people are ready for different scenarios, they can see their power, they can bring their ideas and improve them…and the way forward for their team, the organisation they work for and the customers they serve.

Rather than systems integration, we now need to think about business integration. That means skills like business architecture come to the fore. How will automation, for example, fit into the ways we’re going to work tomorrow? What do we need/want to look like? How are we going to change some of our processes? What aspects of our processes, policies or procedures do we need to adjust accordingly? Continuing the plane analogy, what do we need to do to land that plane successfully and as smoothly and safely as possible?

One of our clients, North Lanarkshire Council (NLC), has a powerful vision to embrace digital capability to improve the lives of their citizens and staff alike. Throughout the pandemic, we have worked with them to utilise rapid digital roll-out to respond to the changing needs of their citizens. Initiatives such as Helping Hands to provide essentials to those isolating, use of video technology to meet with tenants and supervise repairs, and proof of concepts to explore AI and smart technology prior to full deployment have all been utilised. All are progressing rapidly due to NLC making sure staff are actively involved and are given the time to fully understand the digital capability so that they can determine how best to use and work with it.

Linda Johnston, Business Strategy Manager at North Lanarkshire Council comments: “For transformation to be successful, it’s essential that the right culture is embedded. The wrong kind of culture will steadily eat away at transformation goals. It will slow down decision-making, it will mean important deadlines are missed, it will stifle innovation and prevent effective collaboration.

“The solution lies in understanding what holds an organisation together and the pathways to change.

For an organisation to be truly digital, it needs to stop thinking and organising itself around the channels it historically operated in and start thinking about how it can be there for the customer when and how they want them to.”

If we are going to prevent the failure of new technology, we need to change our mindset. We need to think about business integration around these new digital technology solutions and automation. Not just system integration and product focus. Get that right and the power of change will reach unprecedented levels.

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The Agilisys Podcast: How North Lanarkshire Council embraced Helping Hands to deal with the COVID-19 crisis

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