The realisation that life is going to change for a good while is starting to take hold. To flatten the curve of the Covid-19 outbreak, radical measures of social distancing are currently being rolled out in an increasing number of countries. People are being urged – or instructed – to isolate themselves at home. In many countries, schools are closed. The same is true of theatres, bars, and cinemas. Travel for both leisure and business is advised against. Borders are shutting.
Most people presume that all these measures to combat the virus will be temporary, and that at some point – in two, six, or perhaps 12 months – life will be back to normal and business as usual. To some extent, this may be true. But many changes could well be permanent.
Social systems, be it whole economies or individual organisations, are inert and very hard to change. Over time, firms develop into complex and bureaucratic structures, with so many ingrained routines that they are almost impossible to change. Economies, too, follow a largely path-dependent trajectory. This means that they usually resist radical change, and instead follow a path which more often than not is triggered by a small event or historical accident. Even if the Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters might like to see it, the US will never become Denmark.
But in times of fundamental crisis, a window of opportunity for change opens up. Sometimes, this window of opportunity is purposefully leveraged to change the course of action. For example, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel decided, quite haphazardly, that Germany would discontinue its reliance on nuclear power. In other cases, revolutionary change happens almost by accident, as was the case with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Research in the social sciences has long made the observation that socio-political change often occurs in sudden bursts: a social system remains stable for a long period of time, until an external shock disrupts it and sets in motion a new trajectory.
Coronavirus may well be such an external shock, fundamentally reshaping some areas of how we live our lives. Rather than simply bouncing back and reverting to the pre-coronavirus state, some changes may be permanent. In three areas of our economic lives, changes brought about by coronavirus may well prove much more long-lasting than currently anticipated.
Business travel is often considered critical for the success of organisations and the effectiveness of running them. It is certainly true that face-to-face meetings help build relationships and trust, which is often crucial for making a project succeed. But now that businesses and other organisations are being forced to radically cut down or stop business travel, they may realise that it’s not so essential after all – as long as they find working substitutes.
Now that employees have to rely on Skype or Zoom calls, rather than flying around the globe to meet in person, they may realise that video conferencing is a good alternative: one that is more flexible, family-friendly and more environmentally sustainable. Employers, meanwhile, will see the possibility for drastic cost-cutting. So in the future, we may see significantly lower levels of business travel.
Flexible working arrangements are more and more widespread. But extensive working from home is considered bad for individuals, because they tend to work more hours. It also has downsides for organisations, because it raises coordination costs and the critical advantages of being physically present are lost, such as building relationships and a team spirit.
For these reasons, there are signs that the classic physical office space has recently witnessed something of a revival: some pioneers of working remotely have called their workers back to the office.
But now that working remotely is a necessity, both employers and employees will have to build competencies and work out how to do it effectively. Individuals will be forced to build new routines, and organisations will have to find ways to create online spaces for colleagues to interact outside of formal meetings. Good workplace relationships are critical for innovation and the resilience of an organisation. It remains to be seen what might act as the virtual water cooler – a place where colleagues meet, gossip, and innovate.
Coronavirus may force us to become collectively better at working remotely, which could then emerge as a viable alternative to working in downtown offices.
Many industries were already undergoing significant disruption before coronavirus hit. The measures taken to fight coronavirus will accelerate these seismic shifts. Streaming services, for example, threaten the business model of established content creation and distribution, and Amazon is becoming a dominant super-disrupter of a wide variety of industries.
The “stay-at-home-economy” necessitated by coronavirus will dramatically accelerate the shift from the old to the new, making questions of market concentration and the possible need for regulation even more important.
Change will come from both the demand and the supply side. An increasing number of people will start using these services, and start liking them, becoming loyal customers. The supply side will also change. Incumbents will be weakened and might even go out of business, and disruptors will continue to invest from a strengthened position.
In other fields the change will be equally dramatic and possibly for good. For example, higher education has been slow in moving into the online teaching space, but now that the sector is forced to deliver modules online, universities are unlikely to totally revert to the previous status quo. There are huge opportunities offered by online education – in terms of new markets for students and cheaper delivery thanks to economies of scale.
Change happens in bursts, and coronavirus may constitute a critical external shock transforming parts of our lives. While we think of the current changes to our live as temporary, they may well be permanent.
Supporting remote working is not about installing a quick fix. With Cloud everything changes, whether it be about moving from the desktops to mobile tablets, going beyond the confines of offices, building new applications, how IT support users and how the users themselves use the on-line tools. But no change is not an option for most. Security threats are mounting on poorly maintained legacy, while the cost of maintaining legacy such as Windows-7 based systems for example is escalating due to vendor extended support costs being imposed.
Traditionally moving to the new world involves a period of assessing the technical options, systems architecture design, meticulous planning and significant investment to undertake the transformation. But for many the simple unknown of the cost vs. outcome plus the need to move fast in times of breakneck changes is a huge challenge. So how to get to the end of the rainbow, rapidly in a structured manner with minimal business disruption?
There is a way. By capturing the knowledge of many complex transformation projects and using proven migration tools under the OneTiK Automation Platform, the OKTiK team have enabled our customers to deploy a mobile digital workplace in a fully-automated and efficient process. At all times the progress of the migration project is crystal clear, tracked through a real time dashboard and well communicated to the business owners.
The critical steps in building and delivering a new Digital Workplace:
The benefits of this approach are numerous:
– Simplicity of project management through an advanced dashboard:
– Minimal User Disruption
– Legacy Applications no longer a barrier
– Autodiscover not just data location but content and auto classification
– Accelerated, secure deployments
The OneTiK Orchestration platform is able to deliver all of these outcomes through harnessing the teams’ large scale migration project experience built up over the past decade. It exploits the power of standard platform tools wherever possible e.g. SCCM, plus third party modules such as Droplet Computing containers. In addition to the tools, OKTiK Technology also provides the personnel and expertise to deliver powerful workplace solutions to your office, your home and wherever you are working.
For more information please visit www.oktik.net
Monolithic change programmes can be a mistake: they often come with a considerable administrative burden of recording and reporting from overly elaborate project and programme tracking. And they may be unwieldy and hard to manage successfully. You just have to consider some of the UK government’s IT initiatives (the NHS’s abandoned patients record system that cost the taxpayer some £10 billion and the painful deployment of Universal Credit come to mind). Monolithic change programmes can also, counter-intuitively, have a damaging effect on innovation. They can crowd out smaller innovations elsewhere in the organisation which are seen as being “off strategy” as they are not part of the agreed big picture. This can be the case even when they have the potential to make a major impact upon a critical process. And then, purely because they are seen as distracting, they are killed off or given unreasonable success criteria, which strangles them after a few steps.
Pulling projects into programmes
Instead of running major pre-planned programmes of change, it is often better to be more flexible. The formal programme approach to digital transformation can work. But only when it involves the collection of smaller projects that are mapped together with the intention of delivering certain outcomes. Smaller independent projects, while individually less ambitious, are generally lower risk and more likely to succeed because they are easier to specify, design, build and manage. They are also more easily absorbed into relevant programmes and can add real value to the overall programme. But if one independent project within a programme of projects is failing, it won’t then hold up all the other digital projects in the organisation and will only have a small impact on the programme within which it sits. Alternatively, an ad hoc approach to transformational change can be taken, with innovative projects welcomed from across the organisation, whatever the technology and whatever the end goal. This isn’t an argument for anarchy. Digital projects, whether ad hoc or part of a planned set, will need some control. To deliver this it is sensible to appoint someone with experience to oversee the integration of digital technologies and the various digital projects into your organisation.
The digital transformation champion
This person should not be responsible for deciding what digital technology is used within the organisation. Instead they will have a role that supporting individual projects and ensuring they contribute to the organisation’s business goals. The role of the digital transformation (DT) champion is to give individual digital projects the best chance of success. This means that the DT champion needs to work in a number of very different ways.
Supporting the change programme
The first priority of the DX champion is to support “change through technology” across the organisation. This involves ensuring that as much value as possible is generated from digital transformation, and as far as possible, avoiding unnecessary waste This can be achieved by putting in place consistent processes for tracking delivered value so that the success or otherwise of individual projects can be compared to others. If you do this, then the overall benefit derived from digital projects can identified and reported. Another important role is to identify priorities for the organisation, especially when resources are limited and projects are competing for the same investment opportunities. The DT champion also needs to act as an umpire. On occasion, a technology project that is bringing benefits to one area of the organisation also brings problems to another area. This needs to be recognised. When this problem occurs, the competing needs of the two areas should be evaluated so that a judgement can be made. Ways of limiting the damage should be sought. It is to be hoped, though, that projects will succeed at delivering value without damaging other parts of the business. Where this happens the DT champion must facilitate the integration of proven new technology from one area of the organisation into other parts of the organisation.
Supporting projects and their teams
The DT champion also has an important role supporting individual project teams. They should act as an information resource for the people who are leading individual digital projects, for instance helping them to build businesses cases. And they should share learnings from successful projects across the organisation as well as seeking learnings from outside it. Because they are (or should be) experienced, they should be capable of anticipating and identifying project risks and helping to manage them. Some projects will fail inevitably. The champion has a role enabling the organisation to “fail fast” by acting as the executioner of projects that have obviously failed. They also have a forensic role, finding out genuine reasons for the failure and capturing learnings so that future failures can be avoided. There is a defensive role too, one that can take some confidence to fulfil: the champion should be prepared to support the teams responsible for failed projects. They should defuse any blame that may be attached to a failed project and emphasise to the wider organisation the learning that has come from it.
Supporting the organisation
Finally, the champion has a role to support the organisation as a whole. Importantly this will involve encouraging a culture of innovation and technology engagement across the organisation and acting as a champion for technology change. In order to do this the DT champion needs to be sufficiently influential. They may also have a role as the prime external communicator of digital change successes on behalf of the organisation. This outward-facing role is very different from the inward-facing roles around supporting projects and the change programme generally. This is a challenging role to take on, but an important one. The right person will have a combination of experience, good judgement and persuasive powers. And they will need the full support of the board if they are to succeed. But given that, they can have a truly transformational effect on their organisation.
This article is adapted from Digital Governance (Routledge. 2020) by Jeremy Swinfen Green and Steve Daniels
Since the NHS was created more than 70 years ago, medicine and medical technologies, as well as the health and care needs of our society, have changed radically. Yet the way care is delivered to many patients has remained locked into the service model created in 1948. The Long Term Plan for the NHS, published earlier this year, sets out an ambition that digitally enabled care will become mainstream.
Virtually every aspect of modern life has been radically reshaped by steps forward in technology. The innovation and technology needed to evolve the health and care system into a service fit for future generations is already out there, waiting to be adopted.
We already have access to digital technology that frees up clinicians so that they have more time for patients:
• Ufonia and iPlato use AI-driven voice technology to triage or call patients and have a fully autonomous, natural conversation, to assess their health status against specified criteria or offer guidance on accessing services
• Health Unlocked’s eSocial prescribing tool lets GPs easily deliver a digital social prescription to patients
• Rightangled’s Heart DNA test is a genetic test kit for cardiovascular risks, drug responses and a risk evaluation
We can also use artificial intelligence (AI) to support diagnostics to increase the opportunity for early intervention. For example, Skin Analytics specialises in screening for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
There are also systems to help tackle organisational challenges:
• Medic Bleep reduces delays in sharing patient information between clinicians, staff and outpatient departments
• Beringar provides smart monitoring for NHS Estates
We know technology can now deliver tailor-made care for patients, putting them in control of their treatment and health records: My mHealth, Medopad, uMotif and Aseptika are just a few examples of many companies providing digital self-management platforms for those with long-term conditions.
But reports have identified that transforming the health and social care system will not be achieved without a better co-ordinated effort to bring health sector innovators together with NHS and social care teams so that health needs are prioritised. The NHS is complex and ambitious about the future, but pressures are seeing staff stretched to the limit. Successfully introducing new ways of working or new products can be a lengthy process, despite the potential benefits to patients’ lives, support for staff and/or savings that great new ideas can bring.
According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a “tide of technology” should be embraced, and this is exactly what the AHSN Network is doing with its Innovation Exchange programme.
There are 15 regional Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) in the UK, whose primary objective is to enhance the uptake of healthcare innovation for patient benefit. They support frontline staff, helping them understand possible new solutions to their challenges and connect the NHS to tech innovators.
An important part of this work is a commission from the Office of Life Sciences to provide the Innovation Exchange, an AHSN-coordinated approach which identifies, selects and supports innovations with the potential to transform the lives of patients and support UK business growth.
So what has been achieved by the AHSN Network Innovation Exchange so far?
A 2019 survey of companies that AHSNs and the NHS Innovation Accelerator have worked with over the past year concluded that 691 jobs had been created and £152 million of investment leveraged in order to support development of the companies that were engaged with.
In total, 2,605 companies and 3,630 innovations were supported, with 164 firms entering into long-term strategic partnerships with the AHSNs.
Healthy.io, the first company to turn smartphones into a clinical-grade diagnostic devices, offering the only FDA-cleared and CE-approved home urine test equivalent to lab-based devices, is one such company.
One of its first UK products is a home-based urine-screening service that can detect signs of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The test kit and associated app allow at-risk people, such as those with diabetes, to test themselves for signs of CKD at home.
The Healthy.io team worked closely with the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, which commissioned the York Health Economic Consortium to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the service for people with diabetes and hypertension who struggled to attend their annual tests.
The report stated that, by rolling out this innovation for non-compliant at-risk populations (people with diabetes or hypertension) across England, an estimated 11,376 cases of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and 1,361 deaths would be prevented over five years thanks to 33,723 additional cases of CKD being diagnosed, potentially saving the NHS £660 million.
With 42 million urine tests undertaken by the NHS, urinalysis is the second most common diagnostic test. It is possible to use this technology across a huge range of clinical pathways – for example, the team is working with the East Midlands AHSN on moving urinary tract infection (UTI) testing out of GP clinics and into the community pharmacy setting to reduce pressure on general practices. It is also working with maternity services to offer generic urine testing for pregnant women who need frequent testing but are low-risk and therefore don’t need to keep attending clinics to complete the tests.
Olivia Hind, Partnerships Director at Healthy.io, said: “The economic evaluation supported by Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has helped us to build a healthcare economic case and go to other areas demonstrating the financial savings and usability. It has also helped us build up our business case as we expand into the US.
“The AHSNs helped us to understand which care pathways to focus on, which geographical areas, and which customers – whether they’re clinical commissioning groups or trusts – and that’s enabled us to fine tune our offering and products and secure additional NHS contracts.”
This is one of many examples of innovative businesses engaging to support the change we need to deliver a future-proof NHS.
The AHSN Network works closely with many partners throughout the country to maximise the opportunities for innovators and tailor effective support for healthcare practitioners. For example, the Accelerated Access Collaborative brings to support the national adoption and spread of selected innovations, while Local Enterprise Partnerships and Innovate UK support companies throughout the economy. Patient and business organisations are also key partners with National Voices, NHSX, ABHI, ABPI, as well as the NHS Innovation Accelerator and DigitalHealth.London bringing specialist support in particular areas.
A new digital gateway for innovators is now available to help people access the experts and resources available in all 15 AHSNs, and connect to partners across the health innovation landscape.
It is a highly complex world, with many sceptics to convince, traditions to question and barriers to overcome. The only way to bring about the transformation needed is to work together, supporting those with system-changing, life-changing solutions to help them bridge the gaps and positively impact the lives of patients for years to come.
Find out more about how you can gain the support needed to move things forward in the health and care sector, and watch your business grow, at ahsninnovationexchange.co.uk
by Karen Livingstone, National Director, AHSN Network Innovation Exchange
As a new generation enters the job market, corporate wellness benefit programmes have become the norm rather than an exception. Criteria such as working conditions, work-life balance or health benefits have become as, if not more, attractive in the job market as high salaries.
The fast-growing start-ups – especially those in the tech industry, such as TikTok – understand that if they want to attract and retain the best talent in the market, they need to invest in wellbeing and happiness at work. TikTok has been collaborating with Deliveroo for Business to provide food for its employees as part of its employee perk programme. With weekly team lunches and events caterers, it’s part of TikTok’s strategy to boost morale, which has contributed to its 4.1 out of five star rating on employer review website Glassdoor.
“For TikTok, it’s really important to have food as part of our employee wellbeing programme,” says TikTok’s Eleanor Payne. “We really want the best talent working for us, and in order to achieve that […] it’s almost an industry-standard to provide amazing food.”
Providing quality food at the workplace has become a growing requirement, and the stakes to get it right are high. This is a multi-billion-pound market that covers late-night workers, event catering and “cloud canteens”. This trend is global, too. Companies are walking away from traditional canteens that provide a low level of satisfaction with poor quality and variety of food. They are often expensive to maintain, and produce a large amount of food waste. In contrast, “cloud canteens” such as those powered by Deliveroo for Business, are more flexible and cost-effective. With 67 per cent of UK companies now offering allowances for team lunches and 47 per cent providing food for meetings*, “FoodTech” actors such as Deliveroo for Business have understood the need to provide custom services for corporations.
“Food enables employees to gather around a table and chat, share ideas, and collaborate,” explains Juan Diego Farah, GM and Global Head of Deliveroo for Business. “It genuinely creates an amazing opportunity for them to take a step back and engage with their colleagues.”
Deliveroo for Business was originally launched three years ago to target late-night workers, but the opportunity and demand for food in the workplace have evolved quickly and Deliveroo’s catering business is growing fast. It’s now increasingly common for companies to highlight on their job descriptions that they offer Deliveroo for Business allowances as part of their corporate rewards package.
To win the corporate market, innovation is key. Gone is the time when companies would settle for boring sandwiches or pizzas and beers. Now, corporate clients want to be delighted with creative caterers or restaurant pop-ups and provide amazing experiences for their teams.
For more information, visit deliveroo.co.uk/business
*Survey conducted in November 2019 among more than 500 companies currently partnering with Deliveroo for Business
It has been widely reported that we are now operating in the “expectation economy”. What was considered exceptional service only a few years ago has now become standard, and the bar keeps getting raised. As a result, there is a growing gap between customer expectations and company capabilities. For example, the average business takes 12 hours to respond to a customer request. Yet today, 90 per cent of customers expect an email to be answered within an hour – and less than one minute if they have sent an SMS message.
Swiss Post Solutions believes that the solution to close this gap lies in the huge volumes of unstructured data that companies have to deal with on a daily basis. The term unstructured data refers to information from emails, images, social media and other digital and non-digital sources, which cannot be easily managed by transaction-processing applications.
Intelligent Automation (IA) is an effective way to manage the data challenge. It can take unstructured information from almost any source and transform it into a useable format that is ready to be processed. IA combines people, processes and technology to complete high-volume business tasks at maximum efficiency.
A typical IA system includes components such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can “read” customer communications and extract and classify the most important parts. It will also leverage Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to move information between different spreadsheets and systems within fractions of a second. The final element involves using skilled workers, on- or offshore, to handle queries that are too complex to automate. After all, people remain more efficient than computers for many tasks.
Let’s have a look at a real-life example. An SPS client was struggling with sorting and managing all their incoming email communication. While customers were unsatisfied with the long handling time of their request, the inefficient manual sorting and handling processes strained the agents. SPS’s implemented IA solution categorised the requests across multiple languages and directly sent them to the responsible agents. The software automatically collected additional information on the customer from back-end systems and created an answer template. Customer agents checked the template, added extra details where necessary and sent back the response. Previously, employees had to find and collect all of this information manually, cutting and pasting it from different spreadsheets and systems.
The SPS solution reduced the average handling time per email by 35 to 50 per cent, which has significantly boosted customer satisfaction. SPS was also able to provide detailed analytics on response times, first contact resolution rate and the performance of individual agents, allowing further improvements.
Winning the race for customer experience is the key to business success. Intelligent Automation helps companies take the fast lane.
Lukas Hebeisen, Head of Solution Development and Digital Transformation, Swiss Post Solutions
Speak to an expert at SPS to find out more about Intelligent Automation and its potential for your business.
SuperOffice. ‘New Study: 62% of Companies Ignore Customer Service Emails.’ Available at: https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-service-benchmark-report/. Accessed February 2020.
AstuteSolutions.‘9 Important Call Center Industry Standards & How to Beat Them.’ Available at: https://www.astutesolutions.com/blog/articles/9-important-call-center-industry-standards-how-to-beat-them. Accessed February 2020.
AstuteSolutions.‘9 Important Call Center Industry Standards & How to Beat Them.’ Available at: https://www.astutesolutions.com/blog/articles/9-important-call-center-industry-standards-how-to-beat-them. Accessed February 2020.
Effective mentoring can help individuals make vital connections and ensure organisations are able to boost engagement and productivity. But facilitating that is no easy matter.
According to the Office for National Statistics, productivity in the UK fell at its fastest rate in five years in the second quarter of 2019, continuing the trend of recent years. The UK is not unique in facing what has been called the “productivity puzzle”, but it is one of the more glaring examples.
There are many contributory factors for this, but one fundamental reason is that a bad culture means many organisations are failing to get the most of employees and their capabilities, leading to low levels of employee engagement and a lack of innovation.
But, for many organisations, the answer to greater productivity may be closer to home than they think. According to research, employees that are mentored are seven times more likely to be engaged, six times more likely to be promoted, and are an average of 8 per cent more productive than those who are not. Furthermore, they boast a 20 per cent higher retention rate than other employees.
The problem, though, is that while around 75 per cent of Fortune 500 businesses run mentoring programmes, these are often flawed, inconsistent and hard to maintain, and tend to reinforce existing silos, meaning they fail to address key issues around inclusion and diversity.
Two years ago, Ed Beccle – then still at school – hit on the idea of a tutoring app which could connect school pupils looking for extra support with university students able to provide that, and then sought to expand this concept into the world of work.
With his co-founder Henry Costa, who had come off the back of large success in African Fintech, Beccle created the result – Grasp. A platform designed to enable every employee from any level in an organisation to connect with others in the business, creating a culture of engagement and helping to improve productivity. The platform has since gone on to attract investment from some of the biggest names in business, as a result of cold emails, a game of squash and a very impressive network.
“We’ve always had the ethos that everyone has something to share and learn, and it doesn’t matter how senior or junior you are,” says Beccle. “In huge businesses, everyone combined must know everything but it’s how you work out who knows what and then how you connect with that specific person.”
Grasp offers a number of products designed to help organisations overcome the issues of low levels of staff retention, productivity and engagement, and bolts on to existing HR software. All its products revolve around the core belief of connecting users in a smart way through the use of both new and latent data sets. Mentoring is Grasp’s flagship product, aiming to disrupt the way mentoring programmes work in enterprises. Grasp believes in being the catalyst and spark for new and meaningful conversations where everyone has something to offer.
Once introductions have been made, individuals can either connect through a Zoom call or arrange to meet in person, depending on their location and the nature of the liaison. “Technology plays a huge part in bringing people together although it’s really important to get people meeting up in person,” says Beccle.
“There’s a huge opportunity that’s missed in just meeting people. But a lot of the time people barely know what the person 12 steps away from them does, let alone two or 10 floors above.” He’s keen to stress, too, that it’s not just a case of more junior staff being mentored by more experienced ones, as often younger employees will have skills that can be useful to older workers.
Embedding the technology that can help organisations make the most of the skills and experiences they already have in the business can create a culture where mentoring is truly effective, he adds, bringing direct benefits to the bottom line.
This is likely to become even more important as Generation Z enters the workplace, believes Beccle, and organisations need to do more to engage them and tackle the productivity crisis. “This will get better and bigger,” he predicts. “Every company will need to use something like this in future.”
For more information on how Grasp can help your business, visit http://grasp.hr/
The term “digital economy” is as easy to quantify as South American exports. There is more data being collected than can actually be stored. It has become so widespread that we can’t determine the impact it has made on each of the traditional sectors. With many moving towards edge computing, more data is being stored on the “edge” of networks, as opposed to a on a universal server. This inevitably means we have more data. More data enables a broader oversight of our economy as a whole. The key is how we make the most efficient use of this data to maximise productivity.
Economics is the study of, among other things, how resources are best allocated for production, distribution and consumption, from consumer level to overall economies. It is upon this understanding that we have built varying different economic systems, such as a mixed or market economy, and these have been adopted and developed in numerous ways by different countries depending on leadership preference. However, when it comes to the digital side of the economy, all types of economic systems, can, have and will adopt new technologies as it enables them to climb up the value-chain ladder.
Most adults in developed countries have access to at least one card-based form of digital payment. The technology for digital payment was shaped long before it was accepted, yet most adults now carry little cash, if any, given the convenience of contactless payments. While the trust of these mediums at a consumer level took time, it took even longer to convince banks that this payment method was an improvement on hard cash.
As the “manufacturer” of the new payment form, the Visa Association had to convince the banks that this was the correct direction to take. The initial challenges were relentless – once Visa had managed to convince the banks that this could vastly improve their profits, the means to adopt were justified. However, once the card had made it into households, the next challenge was thet the nation’s infrastructure had not caught up – not every petrol station had an ATM, nor every coffee shop a card machine. It was then that the banks, in turn, had to convince the government to increase investment in UK infrastructure in order to normalise this payment method.
This is parallel with other, newer digital technologies and the economy. Within all sectors of the economy, those “manufacturers” of digital technologies need to persuade those within different industries to adopt them by demonstrating the return on investment achievable. Indeed, it is not straightforward to illustrate a return on investment when data is the subject. However, a little funding from the right source to develop case studies where companies are able to visualise the ROI will surely enable more and more companies to begin to implement these technologies.
The ability to accrue large amounts of data and analyse it to assist processes is becoming a necessity for businesses to stay aligned with the competition. This doesn’t apply to any one sector or industry in particular. This is a global unification. Moving towards a more digital and also a more circular economy means those resources are far better used.
Within every industry we are able to see how artificial intelligence and the internet of things are forming an inclusiveness in sharing information and ideas among countries and corporations alike. The sharing of data is much more manageable and accessible than it has ever been. We must exploit this from an early stage and use it to capitalise on a competitive advantage.
The newest form of digital currency – cryptocurrency – has had a very slow uptake in the marketplace, thanks to uncertainty and its decentralised nature. But once reservations are overcome, could it eventually become the main form of currency in years to come? Perhaps yes, as there is no need for intermediaries or a central bank. Society is understandably cautious when faced with new and different ways of doing things, but if we look back on the past decade, we didn’t initially support half the technologies now used daily. Whether it was due to fear, or the technology itself being in its infancy, we cannot be certain.
But what we can be certain of is the opportunity current developments will present over the next decade. Newspapers and television used to be where we went for information, but now we are able to gather a quicker summary of any global situation online. The world is evolving, instead of getting left behind let’s learn with it.
by Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head, Industrial Automation, Gambica
Unsure about how the digital economy will develop? Or perhaps you want to be put in touch with experts in digital adoption? We can help at www.gambica.org.uk
Image provided by GAMBICA
The digital economy is changing our industry’s ecosystem. In order to guarantee future growth, companies must evolve through digital transformation.
Over the last few years the digital economy and digital transformation have been referenced in the media and are key themes of discussions for companies. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 per cent of global GDP will be digitalised by 2022. However, there is a significant potential of growth since 50 per cent of the world’s population is not currently active in the digital economy. 
Companies willing to respond to these future consumers’ needs while staying competitive must adapt their business processes and strategies by going through a digital transformation.
Definition of digital economy and digital transformation
What do we mean by digital economy and digital transformation? The digital economy defines an economy mainly based on new digital technologies, in order to generate business. Digital transformation covers the process to incorporate digital technology in company business models, which will help to trigger digital economy growth.
Measuring the impact of the digital economy
In order to understand the impact of the digital economy, many organisations have developed tools to help measuring its growth and boost entrepreneurship. For example, since 2014, the OECD has been publishing guidelines and recommendations to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and digital economy growth.
In its 2018 report, the OECD provides recommendations aimed at countries, and guidelines, on how to measure digital transformation by defining nine actions: 
The World Bank has established a Digital Entrepreneurship Scorecard, a diagnostic tool that helps assess the evolution of the digital market. These recommendations focus on boosting entrepreneurship, promoting innovation, and investing in research .
General Impact on companies’ business strategy
But what does this mean for company leaders, how can they adapt their business strategies to trigger a digital transformation, and how will they know which technologies to adopt? Blockchain, the internet of things and AI are the key technologies highlighted in digital transformation.
According to the OECD, in the UK, AI-related companies are focusing mainly on fields such as deep learning, language processing, image recognition and robotics .
Regarding the adoption of digital transformation, the World Economic Forum emphasised that it is important to identify the triggers, or “enablers”, which come in four categories:
Impact on companies’ business processes
Once the business strategy has been established, it is crucial to understand the impact of the digital transformation on our industry.
For example, the Bank of England’s Future of Finance report, published in June 2019, clearly shows what banks will need to focus on, in order to “serve the digital economy” . This includes focusing on payment systems, innovation such as AI, big data and machine learning, and on standards and protocols.
Roadmap for business leaders
What are the key recommendations for business leaders? From a practical side, the following framework can help business leaders to drive this strategic change.
The World Economic Forum suggests asking the questions illustrated below when:
In summary, the digital economy, driven by customer requirements and behaviour, is significantly transforming industries. Company business processes and strategies must be able to support this growth, which is estimated in the trillions of dollars. Another aspect which should not be forgotten is to ensure that employees are guided and supported and that the impact of the transformation on company culture is evaluated.
by Nadia Abouayoub FRSA, Strategist, IET Expert Digital Panel member, BCS AI Specialist group Committee Member
In this fast-changing retail age, experience now ranks higher than product or price. Research shows that over half of customers won’t return to a store after just one unresolved negative experience. So understanding customers and what they think and feel has never been more important.
Yet it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gather customer feedback, and to tap into its true business value. Today’s customers are overrun with surveys, emails and special offers tempting them to share their views. Low engagement and dropout rates are a growing challenge. There is also a huge risk that the data customers share across the many channels now available to them gets stuck in disparate silos and spreadsheets, where it delivers zero benefit to the business.
So how can companies successfully get the insight they need and use it to drive their business forward? It all comes down to learning how to listen to customers – and how to effectively take action as a result.
Securing the voice of the customer and deploying the resulting insights can have a transformative effect on performance, profit and customer experience. But only if it’s collected and used in the right way.
For Critizr, that means a whole company approach. We view customer feedback as a driving force at every business level – from HQ to shop floor, not just in the marketing department. Our approach hands the keys to customer-centricity to front-line teams, making them more agile and effective. This local empowerment is the core factor in the success of our platform
. So, while Critizr generates feedback and insight for senior management to plan for the long term, staff in the field can quickly and efficiently take action at local level – doing what it takes to solve problems, win back dissatisfied shoppers and drive loyalty and revenue.
The money story behind local empowerment is compelling. A recent study conducted by Critizr in conjunction with the CX Institute assessed the value of improving customer experience. Our study showed that 53 per cent of customers who’ve had a bad experience can be turned into promoters if their issue is addressed within 48 hours. Promoters spend more, are more loyal and will actively advocate on a brand’s behalf.
Critizr’s experience with leading brands across Europe proves the positive results of transforming all employees into powerful customer champions in their own outlet. On average our clients see a 10-point increase in NPS (the Net Promoter Score, one of the most effective customer satisfaction metrics for modern businesses) in their first year of working with Critizr.
The future of retail relies on businesses and brands using customer experience and feedback to differentiate themselves, drive value from their retained customers and ultimately increasing the bottom line. What better approach could there be than to empower the entire organisation to truly understand what customers want – and then to take action to provide it.
By Douglas Mancini, VP Sales EMEA, Critizr
To understand how to empower your whole organisation using customer feedback with Critizr click here.
An effective digital economy demands frictionless cyber-security.
Cyber-security is one of the fundamental enablers of the digital economy. As emerging technologies such as cryptocurrency and blockchain evolve, so too do the security threats.
Given the network infrastructure, connectivity and vast applications that this new digital space requires, security will be not only be essential for operations but critical for users placing their trust in these technologies. Unfortunately, dealing with security can be a challenge, as the way it is provided and presented to the end-user often makes it difficult to engage with. Of course, people want to know that security is there, but naturally they want to deal with it on their own terms and prefer an interface that is not obtrusive.
If cyber-security is done badly or gets in the way, it can easily become associated with negative feelings of difficulty and disruption, rather than the positive notion of protection. We all know we need it, but we don’t necessarily like it. It’s easy to recall experiences of trying to create and remember passwords, of being confronted by incomprehensible security warnings, or of the apparently continual stream of security updates to be installed. As such, security can start to feel like a bit of a nuisance rather than something that’s serving and protecting us. Sadly, for many people, cyber-security is consequently tolerated rather than welcomed.
In an ideal situation, the end-user experience of cyber-security should be akin to hotel room service – in that it is readily available on demand, delivers what you want, doesn’t hang around longer than is necessary and, of course, isn’t noticeable when not needed. However, sticking to this analogy, it’s often the case that cyber-security is like room service that periodically knocks on your door, says something that doesn’t make sense, leaves food you didn’t ask for and then repeats this process a few hours later.
A frictionless digital economy requires frictionless cyber-security, with protection provided as unobtrusively as possible. Essentially, it should be practical enough to enable users to get on with what they are doing while ensuring security, but without interrupting tasks or providing a clunky interface. This does not necessarily mean that security should be invisible – after all, seeing something can remind and reassure us we are protected – but it should never require excessive or even pointless interaction. In short, the digital economy must be designed to provide a secure and seamless experience for users. This is not to say that cyber-security always ends up feeling awkward. The integration of biometric authentication on most smartphones is a good example of practical security measures complimenting the user experience. With fingerprint verification or facial recognition, users can access their device with a single touch of or glance at the screen. It has clearly been designed with the user in mind, as they feel reassured at the sight of security, its presence, and assured that it doesn’t interrupt their transaction or general activity. However, this is an isolated example and is often quite unlike the way one encounters cyber-security in other contexts, particularly updates, malware scans, and warning messages, which are almost always considered disruptive. One of the more extreme examples of this is the complicated and varied set of tasks involved in authentication for online banking. Despite being necessary, security here could often be designed in a more practical manner that keeps the overall user experience in mind.
Lessons must be learned, and developers must find ways to ensure that cyber-security is not seen as the enemy, acting as a barrier or impediment to work. The technology needs to serve its users, who should feel like beneficiaries rather than victims. As such, future cyber-security essentially depends on four principles – it must be:
Turning these principles into a convenient acronym, to really serve and support the digital economy effectively, cyber-security needs to offer us a CLUE. This in turn should ensure that we’re not left clueless and unprotected when trying to use it.
by Steven Furnell, senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Associate Dean and Professor of Information Security at the University of Plymouth
For more information, click here.
Steven Furnell is a Professor of Information Security at the University of Plymouth. His research interests include usability of security and privacy, security management and culture, and technologies for user authentication and intrusion detection. He has authored over 320 papers in refereed international journals and conferences, as well as books, including Cybercrime: Vandalizing the Information Society and Computer Insecurity: Risking the System. Professor Furnell is the Chair of Technical Committee 11 (security and privacy) within the International Federation for Information Processing, and a board member of the Chartered Institute of Information Security.
Image provided by IEEE