Digital transformation

Get Ready for the Data Revolution
Get Ready for the Data Revolution 855 590 Anthony Peake

Real-time data transforms lives. It allows people to make decisions based on reality. And it allows organisations to be more effective and efficient in everything they do.

When it comes to some of the most vital services in society – social care, education, bin collections, looking after the vulnerable – we are still not realising the true potential of data. Although a new study carried out by Software Solved highlights this very fact, I do believe we are on the verge of a real-time data revolution across local government.

We surveyed 38 unitary, city, county and district councils across England and the findings are revealing. You can get your copy of the Local Government Data Revolution Report here https://www.softwaresolved.com/localgovdata

The survey, as covered by media including Local Gov News shows that 92% of councils say that it is important or very important to running improved, cost-effective, services, though just 19% admit that they are effective at using their data.

And in spite of disparate IT systems, departmental silos, lack of skills and tools being seen as barriers, 95% of local authorities have started or plan to invest in data visualisation in the next 12-18 months.

 

 

Change is happening, with 97% of local authorities recognising that improved data visualisation tools will be of value to their council, yet only 19% of councils feeling that they can easily access the data they hold today.

For many years the technology simply did not exist in a format that could readily be used by non-IT experts and internal barriers, such as departmental silos or the lack of skills and tools to make a real impact, were seen as too tough to tackle.

But data visualisation tools like Microsoft Power BI are now affordable, easy to use and incredibly powerful and you no longer need to be an expert in data and the outcome can be incredibly exciting – making real-time informed decisions becomes the new reality.

Working with the right partners there is now a way to harvest existing data, set up robust data warehousing and use simple data visualisation tools so that real-time data use becomes the norm rather than the exception.

The likes of Camden Council, Lancashire County Council, Leicestershire, Doncaster, South Hams and West Devon District Councils are shaping services, shifting resources, achieving savings to move towards a more democratic, informed, accurate and cost-effective way of running public services.

How GDPR Can Drive Your Digital Transformation Plans
How GDPR Can Drive Your Digital Transformation Plans 150 150 Jon Hogg

By now you know that GDPR is coming in less than 12 months, and with it the eye-watering fines for those organisations found to be in breach of it. If not, our blog ‘What is GDPR?’ should help.

Let’s start off by saying GDPR is non-negotiable. It will impact organisations of every shape and size as every organisation uses data to a lesser or greater extent. When organisations can embrace GDPR, and what’s required to ready themselves, rather than fear it, they can use GDPR to their advantage.

How does GDPR link to Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of an organisation embracing new technology to make itself and its processes more efficient. It will not be news to any of you that plans and initiatives run far better when they have a goal or target in mind. Here’s the crux: use the upcoming GDPR regulation as an organisational objective, and tie your digital transformation directly to that.

If you’d like to know more, read our blog ‘What is a Digital Transformation?’

Let’s go into a bit more detail. There are several talking points in GDPR (we won’t go into them all here), one of which is data availability. I.e. a customer or user can request to see what data your organisation holds on them. All organisations have a duty to provide this. The thought of having to collate data about one individual that could potentially exist across four or five disparate systems is probably nightmare inducing. Here’s where Digital Transformation comes in. A robust digital strategy will include plans for system integration and getting a single-view of data. An organisation who has well integrated systems that communicate readily, and has eradicated data siloes is far better placed to deal with these requests – as a result of their Digital Transformation work.

Why GDPR should drive your Digital Transformation

GDPR is, quite naturally, a scary proposition for many, and for others, a boring tick-box exercise. It doesn’t have to be either. Instead try to think of it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game, and ahead of your competitors. The right blend of technology and improvements in business processes is critical to regulatory (GDPR) and Digital Transformation success.

Fully automated and transparent processes will help you improve data availability, integrity and security – all of which are central to being GDPR compliant. Using that objective (becoming GDPR compliant) as a catalyst to update old and clunky systems or processes will give your organisation the upper-hand over competitors at the same time as improving your user and customer experience – win-wins all round.

GDPR is definitely coming, and the punitive fines will definitely be eye-watering – but it doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as a golden opportunity to kickstart those Digital Transformation plans that have taken a back burner.

If you’re ready to use GDPR as a catalyst for your Digital Transformation plans, talk to us today.

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference
Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference 150 150 Jon Hogg

Software Solved at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference

On Friday 12th May Software Solved will be exhibiting, and speaking, at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference at the America Square Conference Centre in London. The conference is an opportunity for people in the charity sector to see the ways in which technology can transform their fundraising efforts. We are extremely excited to sponsor this conference, and for our Managing Director Anthony Peake, to be speaking.

The importance of digital strategy & transformation

A robust digital strategy has the potential to transform the way the charity sector works – including the ways in which they raise funds. From working with our charity partners we know that tight budgets mean that any digital projects have to really be worth it. That’s exactly why we’re so excited about digital transformation. Done well, with a software partner who understands your organisation, the results can be dramatic.

Digital transformation is more than just technology

A thorough digital strategy will encompass all aspects of your organisation. From people and processes, through to data and, yes, technology. This transformation process should involve your users and your people at every stage of the process to make sure you are continually refining and redefining the final outcome. Not only will this make the final result more effective, but you’ll have excited and inspired your users too.

System integration is key

A lack of system integration can cause all sorts of problems, prime amongst them is that the quality of your data is inevitably compromised through repeated manual entry. Besides this, it also makes processes a lot more drawn out and unnecessarily complex for you and your users. Ultimately, a high level of system integration will help to eliminate inefficiency and duplication from your workflows.

Visualise the bigger data picture

With only one year left until GDPR the onus is on organisations, charities especially, to link up, clean up and look after their data better. This doesn’t mean locking it away so no one can see it and make use of it though. Gaining meaningful insights from your data is central to any digital strategy – after all, most charities rely on it for some form of fundraising at the very least. Effective data visualisation has the power give you the right information at the right time and in the right format.

We’ll be at the Institute of Fundraising Technology Conference this week talking to charities about their digital strategies. If you want more insights on digital transformation in the charity sector, come and see us, or even better, go to the seminar Anthony will be speaking at. It starts at 12:50pm – don’t be late!

If you won’t be at the conference but you’d still like to find out more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Alternatively, you can download our white paper on digital transformation in the charity sector here.

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference
Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference 150 150 Jon Hogg

Software Solved at the Engaging Digital Comms conference

This Thursday the 27th of April Software Solved will be at the Engaging Digital Comms conference at the Museum of London. The conference is a chance for people in the charity and public sector to gain some new insights from the industry about the ways in which digital can transform their communications and wider strategies. We are delighted to be a sponsor of the event, helping charities and the public sector transform the way they work through digital transformation.

Digital strategy & transformation in the charity and public sector

We’re passionate about digital transformation, especially in the charity and public sector where tight budgets mean extracting maximum value from resources is key. A comprehensive digital strategy covers several areas – that’s why we call it transformation. We’ll take a look at these areas now.

System Integration

Many of the charities and public sector organisations we work with have a variety of different systems, built at different times and updated at different rates. This can lead to all sorts of issues, making processes far more complicated than they need to be – costing organisations valuable time and money. Getting your systems to talk, or system integration, makes processes simpler, smoother and more efficient. If your organisation has unwieldy spreadsheets used to transfer data from one system to another, system integration is ideal for you.

Data visualisation

We know from working with our clients that their data is central to the way they work, especially when it comes to things like fundraising and engaging stakeholders. Most organisations have no shortage of data, but getting a handle on it and being able to use it effectively can be a problem. Centralising, and effectively visualising data can lead to more accurate and more efficient decisions.

Mobile and remote working

Part of an effective digital strategy is engaging your users. Whether this is to drive fundraising, raise awareness, or allow your staff to work better will be down to how your organisation works. The link between them is that all of them can be achieved through the use of mobile apps and remote working. Giving your users, stakeholders or staff access to their systems, in a way that is intuitive and easy to use, no matter where they are in the world will immediately make them more productive and increase their engagement.

User journeys

Transforming user journeys is all about making websites, portals and systems intuitive and easy to use. It’s critical to make sure that information is easy to find i.e. it’s where people think it should be. User experience (UX) is a buzzword in the industry right now, and so it should be. But improving user journeys doesn’t necessarily mean a complete system overhaul, a few clever tweaks here and there can make all the difference.

Everybody would like to work more efficiently, with better tools, and digital transformation facilitates this. If you’re at the Engaging Digital Comms conference this week, come and see us to talk about your digital strategy.

If not, but you’d still like to know more about what digital transformation can do for you, talk to us today.

Why the public sector needs to wake up to the issue of legacy technology
Why the public sector needs to wake up to the issue of legacy technology 150 150 Kindy Mann

The public sector is one of the few remaining where the old mantra of a ‘job for life’ still persists. This however has seen the issue of legacy systems become more predominant in the past couple of years.

A legacy system is one that is not considered ‘internet ready’ or no longer meets the requirements of a business. The problems of legacy systems are rooted in the skill gaps that arise when those who implement the original code come to the end of their career and take their expertise with them.

Additionally, in today’s environment where we live and breathe technology, finding replacements for this expertise is becoming increasingly difficult. Developers want to be at the cutting edge of technology and understandably, don’t want to look back and learn archaic code and the systems can fall into disarray.

The risks of unmanaged legacy systems in the public sector

Maintenance and updates to legacy systems should not slip to the bottom of the to do list. There are multiple options available to help bring your systems up to scratch, including decommission, re-writes and integration.

Re-writing a system can be seen as a daunting and unachievable solution to the public sector due to tight budgets and skill shortages. It also carriers the risk that if your in-house expert has left, you can never be 100{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} sure that every aspect of the system has been covered by the new solution. This can lead to:

  • Performance issues
  • Irrelevant functionality
  • Poor user experience
  • Security risks
  • Loss of data

‘Window dressing’ systems is not enough

In the new age of digital, customers expect intuitive systems as the norm. Despite the strains of legacy systems on in-house teams, some public sector bodies have started responding to customer expectations by making websites and customer portals intuitive and easy to use.

However, this only solves half the problem, Digital Transformation is a journey and one that takes a universal look at all your IT systems and processes. There’s no doubt that while customer experience (CX) is high on the agenda, without resolving the back-end technology these portals link to, something will give eventually. Simply updating the customer-facing end of a system and not addressing underlying issues opens organisations up to the risk of poor system integration and data management, which can lead to inefficiency and higher costs.

Talk to us to discover how we can help your organisation overcome the issues of legacy systems.

Top tips to develop your digital transformation strategy
Top tips to develop your digital transformation strategy 150 150 Graham Douglas

In our recent report looking at charities and digital technology, we discovered that whilst charities recognise the need and potential of adopting technology, it remains underused across the sector as a whole. In our experience, it is clear that there are several barriers that all companies face including skills gaps, limited budgets and finding the expertise they need to get their digital transformation plans in place.

A digital strategy can help your business eradicate inefficiencies and update requirements within your IT systems and business processes. As a result, a robust digital strategy can create a more efficient, flexible organisation that is able to offer a better service to their customers. Here are some top tips you can utilise right now to start grasping the potential of your technology.

Run an audit of your IT systems

We would always suggest before you make any changes to your technology, that you take a look at the tools you are currently using. By running an audit, you are able to see:

  • Bottlenecks and manual processes within current system
  • Recommendations on how the system can be enhanced and made more efficient
  • Incorrect uses of the system
  • Security gaps
  • Future stability and performance of the system

A user journey audit

In a recent blog, we looked at how user expectations have changed, and the importance user experience plays in any digital transformation project. In order to get the maximum value from your systems you need to make sure you are keeping both your customers and staff happy.

Some requirements gathering on your user personas and user journeys is a good place to start with this. Some of the questions you need to ask include: Can they do what the need to, and quickly? Is information available across different devices? Are your websites and portals responsive and mobile ready?

Perform a data audit

The big question you need to ask yourself is can you make sense of your data? You can answer this question by following a quick three step process:

1 – Find out where your data is being stored.

2 – Who is using it and what are they using it for.

3 – Can your data be easily transferred between systems.

At the end of this process you will be able to establish if your data needs to be centralised or integrated to make access to your data easier. And whether dashboards and reports are needed to make access to analyse and produce insights. Ultimately, getting data in the right place, in the right format for analysis, is key.

By following these three key audits, you will discover how healthy your IT systems are and where improvements might be needed to ensure you are getting the best returns and your users are getting the best experience.

To discover more about the benefits of digital transformation and how it could help your business, get in touch today.

How UX design drives digital transformation
How UX design drives digital transformation 150 150 Kindy Mann

We recently looked at what digital transformation is and how in today’s growing competitive market, consumers demand speed and simplicity in all aspects of technology. However, technology is only one part of digital transformation, user experience is what should be at the heart of your decisions, and it is this that will be the catalyst to a successful digital transformation project.

The importance of user experience

A good user experience (UX) is critical to the success and survival of any brand, after all, if your systems don’t look great and function seamlessly, your customers and staff aren’t going to want to use them. A bad UX can lead to inconsistencies and damage your reputation if users are unable to perform tasks easily and quickly. Longer term, poor UX results in rising costs within your working practices as well as see customers look to your competitors.

A great user experience (UX) needs to focus on making it easier for staff to work and customers to do business with you. In order to achieve a good UX, you need to ensure you are meeting user expectations.

These expectations cover a multitude of channels and user touchpoints for example:

  • Gathering information on your website / making a purchase
  • Submitting an enquiry
  • Using a business application
  • Accessing a customer portal
  • Updating records

These examples show that digital transformation is about so much more that just ‘digitalising’ your systems. Advances in cloud, mobile and data solutions present huge opportunities for businesses to -‘re-innovate’ systems and processes to reflect the way users engage with their business, which is where ‘or ‘design-first’ comes into the equation.

What is a ‘Design-first approach?

‘Design First’ is a shift in focus across your organisation, requiring every department to make the user experience the best it can be. This shift is not just about making everything ‘digital’, it also involves consideration of user journeys, devices they use, emotions and how users feel. It is a human centred approach to innovation, which puts people at the heart of your end-to-end business activity.

A successful adoption of a design-led strategy will lead to companies functioning in an agile, collaborative and empathetic way. This focus on the user and their objectives ultimately makes processes more efficient and reduces costs. Going through a logical approach to digital transformation based on UX will help identify areas where you can consolidate data, integrate systems, enhance websites and streamline processes.

A successful digital transformation

It is key that prior to rolling out any changes, you identify the needs of users. These needs can be defined through user workshops and rapid prototyping, which allows you to test the functionality of a system and provide an opportunity to get users engaged from the outset.

A successful digital transformation project needs to be focussed across your entire organisation, and is a universal view of all your working practices. Making sure UX is your top priority doesn’t have to be done at once. Consider taking a piecemeal approach to transformation. By taking parts of your business, one bit at a time, and addressing UX as you go, you can ensure that you are managing change within budget and on time.

For further guidance on digital transformation strategy or UX workshops talk to us today.

The progress of digital transformation within the charity sector
The progress of digital transformation within the charity sector 150 150 Graham Douglas

In our report ‘Good Technology’, over three quarters of the IT leaders we spoke with, said that technology is underutilised in charities due to a lack of skills and limited budgets.

We appreciate that digital transformation can seem like a daunting task, especially as charities already face pressures to maintain and update systems. However, despite barriers and tougher regulation, many charities are already ‘doing’ digital and are working hard to bring their data and systems together and improve user experience.

This shift and move towards digital transformation, results in organisations that are more efficient, flexible and provide a better service. We looked at what steps charities are already taking to implement technology.

Five key ways charities are implementing technology today

  1. Mobile in charities – working anywhere, anytime

With the majority of charities having a large workforce based in the field, working remotely is at the top of the list. Many charities have already put remote technology in place and nearly all the remainder we spoke to had plans to implement it.

  1. Cloud adoption in the charity sector

Moving to the Azure cloud hosting can save at least 56{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} in hosting costs and can support the agility and cost saving that charities are looking for. Adopting a cloud-based CRM can be cost-effective and flexible, freeing up much needed budgets and resource.

  1. System integration

With multiple systems all running at the same time, integration has become a common challenge amongst charities. Embracing digital transformation not only involves digitalising processes, it brings all those data sets together for one seamless working system. However, with only 11{7465c2450dcd042996416963879c72771606ba211532680daeb6e67dd6282842} of the charities we surveyed having initiatives underway, it is clearly early days for integration and skill gaps are preventing charities from fully embracing it.

  1. Making data work

Data is of the upmost importance to charities and is the building blocks for marketing, fundraising and grant-giving efforts. Charities want to get more from their data as well as improve transparency and integration. By visualising this data, charities can make informed decisions by providing meaningful insights and easily identifiable patterns.

  1. Improving user experience

A major part of digital transformation is ensuring the best possible user experience. With new systems, organisations often adopt a ‘design-first’ approach to development to ensure users can find information and perform actions easily. Charities are increasingly looking to re-design existing systems to bring them in line with current user expectations. The underlying functionality is sound, so with a few improvements to usability and design, systems are easier to use and cost-effectively enhanced.

It is clear from the report findings, that despite the challenges charities face in adopting technology, the sector clearly recognises that technology can help move charities forward with digital transformation, and create a more efficient way of working.

Discover more about the challenges, benefits and the way charities are implementing technology by downloading the full report: Good Technology? How the charity sector is looking to exploit the potential of digital transformation.

Barriers charities face in pursuit of digital transformation
Barriers charities face in pursuit of digital transformation 150 150 Kindy Mann

Digital transformation carries huge potential to revolutionise the way charities work. Charities that have been running for a number of years are likely to have multiple systems in place, which can often cause operational inefficiencies and costs to rise.

Despite advances in areas such as mobile and cloud the potential for technology usage within the charity sector is remaining largely untapped. Digital transformation can make technology more accessible, reducing inefficiencies and improving user experience.

Software Solved engaged with charity IT leaders to understand what was preventing them from adopting technology and what their plans and priorities were for the coming months. You can download the report here.

Three top charity IT challenges

There were three main barriers which arose that were preventing charities implementing technology as part of their working processes, these were:

  • Lack of in-house IT skills – specifically around integration and data
  • Budget constraints – the perception that transformation is costly
  • Data integration and management – understanding of the best tools

It is clear that charities have a desire to transform their systems, with many already making great progress in mobile and cloud technology. But putting a complete digital transformation plan into action is proving problematic.

For further guidance on overcoming these barriers in line with budget and requirements, download our report ‘Good Technology’ today.

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.

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