Collaboration: the final piece of the digital transformation puzzle at Holyrood Connect

Digital transformation in Scotland continues to be a big talking point amongst its public sector organisations, with many of the organisations questioning whether this is just a fad, or whether it has the longevity it promises. The Scottish Government believe it is the latter causing them to refresh their digital strategy in 2017, leading to the increase in technology adoption amongst the public sector organisations in Scotland. It is felt that moving these organisations away from previous, more traditional paper-based assets, towards digital technologies will have a positive effect on efficiency targets, and help with budget concerns in the long run. With demand rising and budgets lowering year-by-year, public organisations in Scotland have lost 25% of their workforce due to these cuts, leaving many organisations in need of a solution that actually works when delivering time and cost savings, easing the pressure on the remaining workforce.

At the end of June, we attended Holyrood Connect ICT, an event that focused its agenda around the digital transformation journey and its successes in the Scottish public sector. It was the first time eShare had attended the conference, and it offered a great opportunity to talk to attendees, with the beautiful backdrop of Holyrood Park, about their experiences of digital transformation, and some of the problems they have faced. From our chats, it was evident that many organisations were struggling with both time and budget, something that was severely hampering their ability to introduce digital technologies, and continue their journey as a part of the government’s refreshed digital strategy.

The conference hosted some very interesting panel sessions, allowing us to get more detail on how different organisations have tackled the challenging task that is digital transformation. The panel sessions we sat in offered some fantastic insights into these organisations, one in particular looked at how digital can drive internal transformation. It was evident from the panel members’ discussions that digital drives efficiencies, something Scottish National Heritage were keen to reiterate.

However, one particular project that was spoken about in the session really showed the value of replacing certain traditional assets with new, and more effective digital options. Ruth Fry, Corporate Communications Manager at Perth & Kinross Council, explained that they had replaced their old mailing system, something that required a large amount of time to frank and send all the mail, with a digital mailing system designed and set up alongside the Royal Mail. The new system has allowed the council to avoid these arduous manual tasks, with no physical letters being used at all. The system, at the time of the conference, had already saved them £40,000, but perhaps more importantly, it has also freed up a substantial amount of time for staff to spend on improving other areas of the business.

It was clear from the panel session that digital technologies, such as Perth & Kinross Council’s mailing system, provide substantial organisational benefits, however, the biggest problem according to the panel, continues to be getting people to use them. The biggest barrier organisations were facing when trying to get people to adopt new systems, was plain old fear. People feared using the technology, for a host of reasons, some feared it was being used in a big brother style fashion to track their activities, while others didn’t want to adopt the technology as they believed it would ultimately make them obsolete.

The panel and audience members that shared their points of view feel the best way to increase the likelihood of adoption, is to educate people, but also show the value of the product. They believe the best way to do both of these, simply invite more collaboration and involve them in the design and planning phase right through to implementation. Collaboration is the key to digital uptake in their opinion. An interesting statistic was mentioned, that 89% of people are digitally engaged, whether it’s through the use of smartphones or other technology, so it is clear that people are able to use the tech, but how do organisations transfer this readiness to use technology into the workplace.

It was very much the same answer from the panel, as collaboration helps those working at the organisation to see the value it will provide for their role. They will know their role better than anyone, so if a new digital tool is thrust upon them that offers very little or no benefit, they are going to be less likely to use it. Heather Robb, Technology & Information Manager at Stirling Council said creating a culture of collaboration using new digital tools was the most effective way of improving digital uptake, as culture eats strategy for breakfast.

This theme was something we were happy to talk to attendees at the stand about, demonstrating some of BoardPacks’ features, particularly looking at how the solution facilitates collaboration within an organisation focusing on a top-down approach, therefore creating the very culture Heather Robb mentions. The attendees at the stand were extremely impressed with BoardPacks collaboration tools; such as annotations, public and private notes against agenda items, presenter mode and a discussion board in the solution’s Decisions module. If you would like more information on how eShare’s board portal can help improve collaboration within your organisation, and help your digital transformation journey, please do get in touch.

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