Are You Ready for Digital?

By Chris Averill, CEO, WAE

Right now it feels like the whole world is moving toward digital at breakneck speed. Banks, insurance companies, retailers, utility companies, manufacturers, government departments, you name it, all are looking at how they can digitally transform their organisation to keep up with customer demand, business expectations and global competition.

But how do large or public sector organisations who are traditionally slow to adapt create an environment that is conducive to this new digital world? What sort of policies and processes do organisations need to have in place to deliver on a truly digital strategy? How do you even go about implementing a digital strategy? Even the words ‘digital’ and ‘transformation’ can sound expensive and daunting.

These issues and questions were the topic of our event last week, when we got together with 40 or so companies to discuss and debate digital transformation at the London Transport Museum. We heard some great insights from organisations and thought leaders who are embarking on some very different digital projects.

The role of digitisation to encourage healthier choices

Our first speaker was Tracey Barr, Programme Lead, Better Health For All, who spoke about the role of digitalisation in encouraging healthier choices and delivering better care. Tracey talked about the inquiry by London’s Health Commission into London’s health and how to improve it to not only keep Londoner’s healthier, but also to reduce health inequalities. I was shocked to find that over half of all London adults are obese or overweight and that by the end of primary school nearly a third of all London kids are overweight. Tracey talked about the need to help people make healthier choices and how digital health could play a part with wearables like Fitbit, and products like Sleepio and SpeakSet. She also suggested that London could lead the way in digital health and has the potential to revolutionise the way people manage their health and care, as a result of its tech-savvy population, a strong creative and digital tech industry and good academic health science centres and networks.

Is the future of apps is disposable?

On a completely different tack, our second speaker, Robin Garton, Creative Director, The Box/News International, talked about My Poppy, the Sun Newspaper’s Poppy Appeal in support of the Royal British Legion. He spoke about how My Poppy demonstrated that you could fire up a digital project and deliver it in under three weeks. My Poppy, a mobile app, provided a fun, innovative and interactive way to contribute to the Remembrance fund and was a real success when it launched in 2014, with 30,000+ downloads in one week generating over £60K in donations. Robin went on to talk about the fact that today life is digital, digital is mobile and mobile is all about apps. In fact, smartphone users spend 89% of their mobile media time using mobile apps, but Robin also went on to say that the future of apps is disposable and that organisations should think about making apps for occasions and not for long-term usage and gave some examples like visiting the Tower of London or the Olympic Legacy Park and downloading an app for your visit.

Increase police visibility on the streets

The final presentation of the day was Superintendent Adrian Hutchinson, Police Lead for Mobile Technology for the Metropolitan Police. Adrian gave a highly engaging presentation about how policing has changed. In particular he honed in on a recent digital project that the Metropolitan Police has undertaken with WAEto help make the user experience of its Crime Reporting and Incident System (CRIS) more intuitive, utilising mobile iPads. This project was trialled in the Borough of Hammersmith and City, with the aim of increasing police visibility on the streets. Adrian said that 87% of crimes in this Borough are now reported digitally and in a six month period, this particular force has taken over 14,000 electronic statements. Previously 40% of an officer’s time was spent in the police station undertaking administration tasks, so this is now freeing up that time and putting ‘bobbies back on the beat’.

Top 5 key insights

In addition we had a very stimulating panel debate. My five key takeaways from the event were:

· Digital transformation doesn’t have to be all encompassing — you can bite off smaller projects and get going very quickly.

· This is all new, so there are no tried and tested formulas. Don’t be afraid to fail and learn and move on, this will stop any inertia around getting started on a new digital project — there is no blueprint.

· Apps are disposable nowadays, so developers should consider whether designing an app that is intended only for a short-term purpose would better suit the user. The app doesn’t have to be around forever, as highlighted by Robin in his presentation around My Poppy.

· Does your team have the necessary skills to implement an effective digital activity? Adrian talked about this during his presentation and also the importance of user experience. For example, is the target audience using the digital channels you intend to implement and do they have a sufficient level of adoption to make this viable?

· And finally, do you have a culture of innovation that will allow you to test and learn and fail but recover quickly to learn from your mistakes?

Say hello

Are you looking for a fresh new approach on how to utilise digital to transform your business? We’d love to hear from you —

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