Digital Transformation – What we can learn from the UK’s COVID-19 Response
The Nightingale Hospitals in the UK were rapidly built to help the UK’s creaking NHS handle the severe impact of Covid, at the cost of £532m to the taxpayer. They were announced to much fanfare and not without a touch of jingoistic national pride, that was meant to send the message that the cavalry had arrived and the NHS’s and by extension the country’s salvation was here.
Digital Transformation as a ‘Message of Hope’
However, despite sending a “message of hope” as Prince Charles said when he opened the first Nightingale Hospital in London, they are now seen as a costly mistake. Sitting idle in the majority of cases, they now stand as a beacon of what happens when you prioritise the technology and infrastructure over the people it is supposed to serve. Although the defence of mitigating circumstances can be used to partly explain the rush to build the hospitals in the face of a pandemic on a scale that had not been witnessed in living memory, the warning signs were clear for the UK government.
What happens when there is a focus on the technology and not the people behind it
The government failed to recognise that to work a hospital on that scale would require a huge increase in manpower and expertise that the NHS did not have to spare. This meant that for London’s Nightingale Hospital, only 54 patients were ever treated, despite having 3,500 beds and with the hospitals in the surrounding areas being beyond full capacity.
The need for digital transformation was there, but the people were not
Although this example isn’t directly about digital transformation, it offers a stark warning to leaders of the pitfalls from investing in technology with little regard for the talent that will have to use it. The Nightingale Hospitals stand as testament to that. The government did not take enough account of stretched staff numbers or the needs of doctors for specific technology required (e.g. the need to give COVID patients a tracheostomy, something that could not be performed at the Nightingale Hospitals).
The hospitals didn’t work, not because there wasn’t the need for them, but because the employees of the NHS weren’t able to staff them or operate them viably. As is the case with a failed digital transformation, the need is always there, and often so is the technology and infrastructure, but without the people any digital transformation is doomed to fail.
The most brilliant digital transformation on paper is completely redundant if it doesn’t answer your employees’ needs or if they do not have the requisite skills to use it. Empowering and upskilling your employees to work with tech is part and parcel of any successful digital transformation. Focus on investing in the people who can make your expensive tech useful.
Here at The Strategy Group, we work with organisations to develop and embed digital transformation by placing the customer experience, employee experience and organisational culture at the forefront of innovation. If you’re looking to deploy a digital strategy or pivot your business model into the digital space, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and find out how you can maximise growth opportunities whilst staying relevant for the foreseeable future and beyond.
- ‘Never waste a good crisis’ – strategic insights in the evolution of digital healthcare - March 31, 2021
- Digital Transformation Failures, and How we can learn from them - February 5, 2021
- Digital Transformation – What we can learn from the UK’s COVID-19 Response - February 5, 2021
- Business Model Strategy During Covid-19 - December 6, 2020
- Crafting a Customer Strategy for Market Entry and Growth - August 12, 2020
- Outcome Driven Innovation – your best approach to become an innovative company - February 7, 2020
- Beyond the bounds of the current aged care business model - February 27, 2019
- A Place To Go – Helping young people reach their potential and reducing the number of young people entering remand in NSW - February 12, 2019
- HealthCare Innovation: Why it is important and How to Execute It - August 19, 2018
- Using Design Thinking Strategy - August 19, 2018
The Strategy Group’s expertise sits at the nexus between Design Thinking, Lean Start Up and Strategy. We are obsessed with innovation, and support our clients to master leading edge approaches to deliver successful corporate innovation projects.
To do this we bring together the best of Design Thinking, Lean Start Up, Traditional Corporate Strategy and Customer Centric approaches to service delivery. If you have a compelling problem to solve, an idea or hypothesis to test with customers, or half or fully formed business model to commercialise, we will delight in partnering with you to achieve tangible impact.
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