What is a ‘Digital Transformation?’
What is a ‘Digital Transformation?’ 150 150 Graham Douglas

The tech sector is abundant with buzzwords that can leave you wondering what they mean to your business. One that you shouldn’t ignore is digital transformation, but what is it?

Digital transformation is not a new thing. And it’s not about just digitalising your systems either, it is a strategic and planned organisational change. It is about realising user expectations and making simple, speedy, and intuitive systems the norm. Digital transformation involves taking a holistic view of all your systems, processes, workflows and data to truly optimise your operations.

Digital transformation is more than just new technology

In a culture where innovation is becoming more and more fearless, think Amazon and Airbnb; companies are constantly striving to innovate new tech solutions, to make the user experience better and easier than ever before.

Cancer Research recently trialled ‘smart benches’, following the huge spike in contactless donations. The benches allowed people to donate £2 by simply using their contactless card, the benches also acted as mobile charging points and Wi-Fi hot spots. Due to the initial success of these benches the charity is planning on placing a total of 100 benches by the end of the year.

However – this technology will not have been adopted in isolation. It is important to remember, digital transformations are not solely about disrupting the marketing with innovation and new tech, many businesses are already ‘doing’ digital transformations. A transformation can come from a website revamp or updates to a customer portal. Where most organisations fall down, is updating the nuts and bolts of these systems. Think about the website or portal, security, the data, the back-end systems – that end to end, integrated process is what’s possible when organisations think digital first.

User Experience – the heart of Digital Transformation

In today’s competitive market, customers expect systems to be aesthetically pleasing whilst being intuitive and quick to use, no compromise. However, it is also not just your customers that have this view. When it comes to innovating your systems, your staff need to remain a part of the process too.

By understanding your customer and staff needs and putting them at the heart of your business decisions, you can build a robust digital strategy.

How can Digital Transformation help your business?

When your systems aren’t performing as they should, your business suffers. Companies often find their systems begin to become quickly outdated from organic growth such as mergers and integrations, leaving multiple systems in play creating inefficiencies. This can make operations problematic and accurate decision making based on your data, impossible. A digital transformation strategy can help align all of your systems in line with your business objectives, keeping you ahead of the curve.

A digital transformation project will see systems updated and tailored to your specific business requirements. While many companies believe a digital transformation involves a rip and replace of all systems, starting from scratch is by no means the only answer. There are many options available, depending on your business needs including:

  • Enhancing existing systems
  • Refreshing websites and customer portals
  • Consolidating existing data sources
  • Integrating existing systems with new technology
  • Replacing legacy technology
  • Automating workflows and manual processes

A digital transformation supplier can help workshop which, if any, of the above solutions you need. They typically will assess your entire IT environment alongside user needs to recommend the right strategy for your organisation.

What are the benefits of a digital transformation?

For many companies, the benefits of digital transformation far outweigh way any risks. Here are just a few for you to consider:

  • Better customer experience
  • More agile working environment
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved decision making
  • Competitive edge
  • Transparency of data

To discuss your technology challenges, or for help starting your business’ digital transformation, talk to us today.

Drivers for change in the insurance sector
Drivers for change in the insurance sector 150 150 Simon Gibbs

In a recent blog, ‘Insurance sector need to embrace technology’, we looked at why insurance firms needed to embrace digital solutions, and steps they could take to achieve positive change. In this blog, we are going to look at the benefits that can be gained by updating outdated and inefficient manual systems.

Benefits of technology and digital transformation for insurance companies

Here is an insight into just three of the benefits that can be achieved from updating outdated systems:

A more enjoyable customer experience

There’s no doubt that customer experience is now a key part of business strategy across a range of sectors, and the insurance industry cannot risk being left behind.

Across almost every aspect of their lives, customers are used to, and in fact expect to, interact easily with technology, and for it to be on hand across all their devices, at all times of the day. Customers don’t want to have to work harder than necessary to find information, so any updates to your systems or customer portals need to be made with the end user firmly in mind.

Equally, staff and investors are starting to demand innovation from the insurance sector. Investors for example might be looking for innovation to help bring down the cost of premiums or reducing pay-outs. Discover how we developed software for QBE, enabling them to significantly reduce their loss ratio.

Better regulation through data transparency

One of the main barriers to the adoption of innovative digital solutions is the complex regulatory requirements that bind insurance firms. In reality, these new technologies actually help with the regulatory landscape and improve efficiency.

Developments in data visualisation and analytics, helps insurance firms leverage customer and risk profiling data more efficiently. These visual reports not only generate better insight leading to more informed business decisions, but also ensure the accurate and timely provision of data that doesn’t rely on manual imputing.

Read how we helped RSA do just that to win Insurance Software of the Year.

Staying ahead of the competition

A recent KPMG survey showed that 48{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of global insurance companies are experiencing disruption from new, agile competitors.

However, it is not just start-ups that need to be watched, increased competition from existing competitors will create significant challenges in the future if organisations don’t move to embrace digital solutions.

Those that look to immediately embrace the latest technology, or look to use what they have more effectively will give themselves a significant advantage; it is the traditional competitor who grasps the technology first that will be in the driving seat.

When approached correctly, these drivers for change can lead to an improved customer experience, create more efficient working practices as well as give your organisation a competitive edge, all of which will increase productivity and cut costs.

Are you ready to capitalise on technology for future business growth? We have a deep understanding of technology and the challenges facing insurers so why not talk to us today?

Software Solved included in Government Digital Marketplace
Software Solved included in Government Digital Marketplace 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

The team at Software Solved are delighted to have secured inclusion in the Government’s Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework.

This means that Software Solved is one of a niche group of technology experts that can provide the public sector with a variety of IT products and services.

We are approved to provide services to government departments in two areas:

  • Digital Outcomes – such as a customer portal or case management system
  • Digital Specialist – such as a Business Analyst or Digital Transformation Architect

With strict entry criteria, it is a major accolade and testament to the outstanding work the team deliver day in and day out. With user-centred design and system integration being the drivers of digital transformation, we’re delighted to be recognised as a leader in the field.

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework gives the public sector access to smaller and more agile companies. Moving away from the traditional major players allows government departments to adopt innovative technology that is better fit for their needs.

And it isn’t just about new technology. We can help the public sector make the most of their legacy technology and system integration to ‘re-innovate’ existing solutions, making them fit for purpose.

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework is The Crown Commercial Services (CCS) key procurement framework and replaces the Digital Services 2 (DS2).

To see how Software Solved could help your organisation access new technology or maximise investment in existing systems, get in touch today.

Could a poor user experience be damaging your business?
Could a poor user experience be damaging your business? 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

There is no question that user experience (UX) is critical to the success of new software and that a bad UX could potentially be damaging to your brand both internally and externally.

It is now no longer good enough for your systems to ‘just work’, users demand it looks good, is easy to use and that their journey is as fluid as possible. A good UX can be the difference between them using the system or avoiding it altogether. And with user-centred design being the catalyst for digital transformation, the issue is high on the agenda for many sectors.

What effect can bad UX have on your business?

Discourages use

The harder your system is to navigate and use, the less enjoyable the experience is for your users. This will not only effect your customer retention but will mean you staff will have a less efficient work process.

Reduces productivity

A bad UX will result in user fatigue as their journey and being able to navigate your site becomes a complicated and lengthy process. This will in turn lead to increased contact from frustrated users who can’t work out how to complete tasks.

Increases costs

With your users discouraged from using your systems and staff productivity reduced, there is a high potential that this will lead to an increase in your running costs.

How can you improve your UX?

A great UX is not just about functionality but about usability too. There are a few things you need to consider to ensure you are providing your users with the best experience possible.

  • Clear navigation – Don’t make your users work harder than they have to, create a clear navigation to make journey’s as intuitive as possible.
  • Understand your users – One size does not fit all! Understand the requirements of your varied users and departments so that you are catering for them all.
  • Responsive – In an age where mobile use is overtaking desktop, users expect to be able to access systems consistently across all their devices, from smart watches to desktops and everything in between. Make sure the experience you provide is a positive one across them all.
  • Visually engaging – Visual design can help users understand where they are, how far they are through a process and more, all of which can improve engagement.
  • Keep it simple – Keeping pages uncluttered, will mean your users won’t be distracted by additional information that they may not need. You can always add ‘further help’ prompts if you think they will need more information.
  • Consistent Imagery / Icons – As we move to more visual design, don’t be tempted to create bespoke icons that your user’s will have to learn. If there are existing ones that do the job utilise these (so long as its legal to do so).

A user journey audit is a good place to start to make sure your systems meet user needs. A qualified UX Architect or Business Analyst should be able to help analyse user journeys and develop personas to recommend the best changes for your budget; from cosmetic updates to complete system redesign.

For help with creating digital experiences your users will love, talk to us today.

Insurance sector needs to embrace technology
Insurance sector needs to embrace technology 150 150 Simon Gibbs

Like many sectors, the insurance industry is changing, driven by innovative new technology and emerging data trends. However, the sector has been, and still is, reliant on manual data solutions that have been long disregarded and replaced by software in other sectors.

The stark reality is that if traditional methods are not re-worked and bought in line with new practices, there is a risk that insurers will fall behind technology expectations for not only their customers, but staff and investors too.

There are two processes in particular, which still dominate insurance firms that unnecessarily cost the organisations both time and money:

1. Spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheets have limitations that can seriously impact how data is collected, managed and interpreted. Here are just some issues they can cause:

  • They are typically large and unwieldy
  • Data cannot be visualised effectively
  • Multiple versions can exist leading to no central view
  • Can lead to inaccurate and unclean data
  • Key business decisions cannot be made without time consuming analysis

Replacing spreadsheets with software not only avoids these pitfalls but leads to faster and more accurate and interactive reporting.

2. Inputting data manually between multiple systems

Similarly to spreadsheets, if organisations are moving data manually between systems (re-keying) this can create an over-reliance on individual members of staff which opens up room for errors and inefficiency.

Coordinating your data centrally or integrating disparate systems, means that everyone uses the same data, eliminating the risk of duplication and inaccuracies getting information to where it is needed, quickly.

How can systems and processes be bought up to scratch?

Taking large amounts of data and transferring it to a new system can be daunting and does raise concerns for organisations such as ‘our data will be lost’, ‘systems will crash’, ‘customers will get a bad experience’.

Managed correctly as a project these concerns can be avoided and result in new automated processes between systems that create one central bank of data, saving you time and manual effort which in turn reduce costs and help promote accuracy throughout your organisation.

If a ‘rip and replace’ of your current systems seems like an intimidating option which you might not be ready for, there are alternatives:

  • Re-innovation of legacy systems – this can be a cost effective alternative, as existing systems, that would be too costly to replace, are enhanced and their efficiency is increased. See how we can help with support and maintenance of your existing systems.
  • Integration – A more gradual approach to system updates. This is another effective way to adopt new cloud, data and mobile applications and combine them with existing systems. Find out more about software integration

We would always recommend doing a system audit to determine your requirements before choosing any solution. This will help you identify any security gaps, data silos and user experience issues. It is only after you have this information, you can make an informed business decision on whether to replace, enhance or integrate your solution.

Finding a specialist partner that understands the challenges insurers face, is critical to ensure solutions meet your requirements. Whether that be re-innovating legacy systems to run smoothly and keep your system relevant or, a complete restructuring of your systems to create a bespoke solution tailored to you.

See the work we have done with QBE and RSA Insurance or, why not talk to us today?

Why charities need to be prepared for GDPR
Why charities need to be prepared for GDPR 150 150 Simon Hollingworth

What is GDPR?

From 25th May 2018 ‘The General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR) will apply to all charities and businesses in the UK. GDPR differs from the Data Protection Act and places stricter rules on how data is collected, maintained and processed.

GDPR will also extend the definition of ‘personal data’ to include not only traditional manual records, but new online sources too, such as an IP address, where consent to store and use data is much harder to obtain. Charities will need to ensure that they clearly affirm that consent has been obtained or there is a risk of substantial fines.

How does GDPR impact charities?

Under GDPR, charities will need to provide an ‘opt-in system’ and ensure this system is maintained so when individuals withdraw consent, their data is removed immediately.

The implementation of additional processes is a daunting task for many charities, who already face pressure to regularly maintain and update IT systems on tight budgets. But success has been seen already. The RNLI have seen far more individuals opting-in to communications than they initially predicted. Third Sector have also reported that Cancer Research UK and British Red Cross will be adopting the opt-in system shortly ahead of the implementation of GDPR.

There’s no question that as with many other organisations, data is the backbone for charities and critical to fundraising and marketing efforts. With the introduction of GDPR, there is a risk that if maintenance and updates to data systems do not become ‘business as usual’, charities will be non-compliant and could face huge financial penalties of up to 20 million euros, or 4{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

5 tips to make sure charities are prepared for GDPR

Out of date data is set to be the biggest risk for charities. Not only could you face financial penalties, under the stricter data protection rules if personal data is not handled correctly, there is a risk of damaging a charity’s reputation.

May 2018 is not that far away, so we have provided some practical steps to ensure your charities data processes are up to scratch before GDPR comes into force.

1. Where is your data?

Ensuring you are complying with GDPR will be made much easier if you can easily track where your data is. Document the data you hold across all departments and locations within your organisations, data maps are a great place to start.

2. Who are your users?

No matter where your data is being stored, whether your users access it on desktop, mobile or the cloud, it should be treated with the same data protection compliance. A central database will allow your users to find information easily no matter where they are.

3. Have you got consent?

Under GDPR, consent cannot be inferred and you need to provide evidence that it has be obtained. Do you need to look at replacing those pre-ticked boxes that exist on your website? You need to ensure you provide the right to opt out too. Record how consent has been obtained so you can supply it to your data processor, the data cannot be used before consent has been established.

4. Is your data easy to find?

Individuals have the right to request their personal data at any time. Perform and audit to determine if your systems are ready to comply with these requests and updates will be intuitive and quick.

5. Are you complying with privacy?

For ease of transition to GDPR regulations, check that new systems you develop or adopt, comply with privacy from the outset. This is particularly important with automation or integrated software projects.

For help getting your charity’s data processes and software ready for GDPR talk to us today.