Digital Transformation – the agile way

In June this year, the University of Eindhoven announced its plans to 3D print affordable housing units in what they claim is  “the world’s first commercial housing project based on 3D concrete printing”  https://www.tue.nl/en/university/news-and-press/news/eindhoven-gets-the-first-3d-concrete-printing-housing-project/. New London Architecture has developed an interactive model of the future development of the capital https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-43820267/3d-model-reveals-london-s-future-skyline allowing planners and residents to visualise and delve into the impact of development. Digital innovation like this could herald the end of our housing crisis.

With projects like Google’s augmented reality maps around every corner –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F0gFpzsYLM – it’s evident that today’s technology can deliver solutions that would have been a pipe dream even a decade ago. As these technologies proliferate, the cost of entry will fall. But are organisations in a position to exploit the opportunities?  The CBI reports that many organisations feel that they lack the skills and “Digital Leadership” to transform the way they work, a shortfall that is hampering their vision for the future. http://www.cbi.org.uk/news/digital-divide-among-uk-business-is-holding-back-the-economy/.

In Local Government, there are already many new and innovative projects that deliver digital services to the community, particularly in key areas such as benefits, education, health and social care.  Nevertheless, there is a shortage of digital skills across the board, and budget spent in these essential areas means that budgets are constrained elsewhere.

A general concern about risk and the huge costs of failed “white elephant” software projects in both the public and private sectors feed into an understandable reticence when it comes to innovation.

The government recognises that the route to reducing developing time and the costs of trialing new concepts is to build easy to assemble digital services using reusable components and platforms.  It’s here that flexible software vendors have the advantage over the established giants of the software world.

As a smaller vendor, we can take an agile approach and are not constrained by a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of our company’s legacy systems. We recruit our software engineers not just for the digital skills they offer today but for their appreciation of where technology can lead in the future.

For us, digital transformation means an improved experience for everyone who uses an Agile Applications designed service. A successful digital service must be easy to use – which is why video and voice input feature in our employee and citizen apps today and will be a driving force in our developments for the future.

Back to the present, where our focus is on two key areas that are common to all services – “smart” working and improved communication with local communities.

In many local authorities, the workload has increased but the numbers of staff and time to deal with it have not.  Our mobile working solution gives every officer (irrespective of their job role), the ability to see and update their daily tasks quickly and upload video and photos wherever they are, with optional voice input for those need to have hands free moments.

Our @HOME mobile app currently delivers recycling and waste collection information to around 10,000 residents and growing. It’s a simple solution that gets the recycling message across, notifies residents on service issues in their area and encourages them to report problems.  @HOME is multi-purpose and can be used to deliver notifications of all kinds – not just recycling.

“We want to close the “communications loop” between the organisation, its employees and the residents they serve”

says Israel Menis, head of development at Agile

“that’s the thinking behind Agile@WORK and Agile@HOME.  A smooth flow of tasks and information between an operation and the people on the ground plays a huge part in making new digital services efficient. The issue is that solutions are sometimes overloaded with features that many people simply don’t have the time to use. We’ve pared our mobile working solution back, but kept the functionality to help staff optimise their work and give them the full user experience. We’ve taken the same approach to our resident apps. For us, simplicity makes for user acceptance”.

It’s easy to get swept away on a wave of enthusiasm for the benefits that new technologies can bring to service delivery, but the harsh reality is that making the transition is no easy task.

Sometimes it can seem easier to adapt a legacy system than to move ahead with a new approach to a business need. Just defining the scope of what needs to be done can be daunting. The latest Government Digital Service research on this tells us that, the very considerable technical considerations aside, “unpicking” data silos and allocating managerial and budget responsibility for migration are a stumbling block. GDS finds that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to leaving legacy tech behind and that organisations are approaching the problem by migrating in small stages –  https://gdstechnology.blog.gov.uk/2018/05/24/understanding-legacy-technology-in-government/

Back to the concept of reusable components and easy to assemble digital services, which is the Agile Applications’ approach specifically because it allows us to build cost-effective prototypes before making the final move. APIs are a standard element of all our current products which means that the transition can take place gradually in tune with our customers’ appetite for change.

If you view change as an opportunity, then the need for digital transformation to alleviate strain on budgets is an ideal chance to take a closer look at business processes.  That’s a fundamental of the agile approach and an area where Agile Applications will work with you – a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge is a key contributor to project success.

When you’re ready to migrate, we’ll take you through the process of getting your new service up and running with proven data migration techniques and an always accessible project management team on hand.

As our customers make the move to our cloud subscription software, we’re looking forward to the next phase in digital service transformation. We can’t predict the future but we know that it’s where we want to be…

 

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