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A digital future: A case of when, not if

A digital future: A case of when, not if

Digital TransformationInsightsInsightsThought LeadershipTop StoriesUnited Kingdom

Business leaders must implement the correct technologies to successfully secure a digital future for their organisation. Darren Cassidy, Managing Director UK&I, Xerox, offers some top tips for how organisations can ensure they operate with a digital-first approach to evolve on their Digital Transformation journey.

The pandemic brought about a slew of changes in both the private and public sector; changes that have fundamentally altered the DNA of business operations and changes that are here to stay.

Within the private sector specifically, innovation and competition represent two key foundations. And when faced with the considerable challenges of the past 18 months, it was these foundations that ensured it was well equipped to adapt and overcome. As companies dispersed from their central hubs to the home, technology and investment enabled the new normal.

However, not all companies were able to roll with the punches and the pandemic definitely highlighted certain fragilities within the public sector – a sector that has been hindered by legacy processes and a lack of funding.

Fundamentally, the pandemic could be seen as a test run for public sector service providers. Now its peak has passed, it is imperative that the sector continues to innovate towards a digital future – one that incorporates new technologies and the opportunities that they unlock. While it has previously been known for being behind the curve, the public sector is ripe for transformation and it is starting to catch up.

Xerox and NHSBSA: A case study

As an industry, healthcare has been through an extreme period of stress testing over the last 18 months. As services and staff were stretched thin, it provided the perfect petri dish to examine where improvements could be made in the future. As it moved towards paperless processes and scaling services through increased digital touchpoints, the NHS’s ‘Healthy Start’ scheme is a good example of how such improvements can yield transformative results.

In 2019, Xerox partnered with the NHS Business Service Authority (NHSBSA) on its Healthy Start initiative, a public health scheme that provides a nutritional safety net for pregnant women, new mums and young children in very low-income families. The scheme offers financial support to means-tested parents from pregnancy to their child’s fourth birthday and provides £4.25 per child per week for the provision of items, such as healthy foods (i.e., fresh, tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables), vitamins and milk formula.

While the vitality of the scheme is without question, the systems through which it ran were outdated and inefficient. Xerox was brought in to handle the scheme’s print services contract, which, through its partners, provided the core print for Healthy Start, the card management portal and distribution of the packs, including responsibility for the full delivery of the service.

The overarching aim of the partnership with Xerox was to remove the heavy back-office administration and the need for paper applications and the distribution of vouchers (both of which fed the administration issue). This move away from physical vouchers became ever more important in light of the pandemic and concerns about contact with the virus. Through providing a card management platform and a reloadable card, enabling transactions to be made in real time, Xerox managed to drive efficiency, both for the enterprise as well as the end-user. Xerox also introduced the provision of an FCA-regulated financial management portal, which helps the scheme print, personalise and distribute its Mastercard accredited debit cards.

The Healthy Start scheme currently supports 300,000 beneficiaries a year. With the switch to a digital operation, it is expected that this crucial service will reach another 240,000 eligible citizens.

Undertaking Digital Transformation

Of course, industries such as healthcare cannot undertake these vast swathes of improvements on their own. They must look towards tried, tested and trusted technology partners to provide the necessary expertise and resources. In the wake of the pandemic, there has been an increase in noise around Digital Transformation, making it incredibly difficult for companies to know where to start. When acquiring the services of a Digital Transformation partner, a business should look for the following:

  • A defined vision. Selecting the correct partner is integral to implementing a successful digital-first future. A good partner should be able to visualise what Digital Transformation means in the short term, create a plan for the long term and know when to lean on an extended network of vendors. Implementing a digital-first future should be undertaken in a sustainable and managed manner rather than as a kneejerk reaction to adopt the latest technology.
  • An eye for detail. Understanding which areas are primed for Digital Transformation is half the battle. At its core, Digital Transformation should always be about driving efficiencies and making use of the correct technology, at the correct time, in the correct instance. Anyone – within reason – can look at the latest technological advancement and implement it. True Digital Transformation begins with a holistic understanding of an operation and then identifying the exact areas in which new technologies can have the maximum impact.
  • Clear communication. A shift in approach and the implementation of new technologies into an operation can be incredibly positive, but it’s important that the whole organisation is integrated into the process. Older, legacy processes stand a greater chance of hindering progress if employees are not comfortable with the new systems. For the sake of continued progress and transformation, it is important that the efficiencies are illustrated to those in the board room and education is baked into any implementation project.

In terms of Digital Transformation, the pandemic truly catalysed what was a steady evolution. The private sector set the standard as businesses around the world were forced to adapt at an incredibly quick pace. But while there will inevitably be greater amounts of funding available to the private sector, that does not mean that the public sector must be left behind.

A digital future can be secured, but it can only be achieved through the steady implementation of new technologies and systems. The public sector is one of the building blocks of our society but expecting it to follow the roadmap set out by multi-billion-dollar companies is impractical. However, there are lessons to be learnt from organisations that are problem-solvers at heart, readily harnesses innovation and are consistently future-thinking.

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