All of that can be a bit overwhelming. We get that. That’s why we’re here to help. We answer all these questions in a 30-min video session from our webinar.
Here’s what’s inside:
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Hi, good morning, good afternoon, good evening. I know we have people from different time zones, so I’m happy you found time to meet me today and to talk and hopefully discuss a bit about the topic of digital transformation of the health industry.
We have planned half an hour for this meeting, we are going to start with my short presentation, and I strongly encourage you to ask questions. There is this QA mode in this click meeting session, or you can ask questions directly in chat. I will try to reply as we go on the last part of the session when there’s a Q&A planned. I strongly encourage you to ask questions, to discuss, to challenge me. I hope to have a good conversation here or after the meeting on various channels to discuss more of this complex, really complex topic.
So, let’s go, let’s start with this presentation. I’m going to start with a quick introduction. My name is Szymon Heliosz; I’m a senior UX designer and customer experience strategist at NoA Ignite. I have a vast experience in different projects. Recently I’ve been working quite a lot in the pharma industry, but it’s not my only expertise. My last projects were a digital training app for one of the pharmaceutical leaders, a service desk experience for a non-profit organisation and a web application for the marine industry.
The reason I’m mentioning these different types of projects is that I strongly believe that with the topic of digital transformation, no matter the industry or the discipline, it’s good to learn the best practices from other areas of business. That’s one of my plans for today, to share not only my experience in the pharma or health industry but also from other branches or other industries that are applicable because there are some principles I found valuable for all the topics. But just to clarify, let’s start with a really short definition of a digital transformation process.
I think I found around 200 different ones on the web. I decided to go with the one of the SalesForce; I think it’s clear and understandable that digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new – or modify existing – business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.
What I think is essential in this definition is the part when we talk about creating or modifying existing. There’s a common trend or way of thinking that digital transformation always requires creating something new. And quite often, that means exactly the same as innovation. And I think that’s one very important clarification: transformation doesn’t have to mean innovation. There is enormous pressure on the organisations, on the companies, and on teams to be innovative, to apply all of the new fancy technologies parts as AI, machine learning, recognition, and cognitive services, there is huge pressure on that, and of course, it’s valuable to apply them when it makes sense, when it’s doable, when it’s possible, but referring to transformation only to be innovative, I think it doesn’t make any sense. And innovation can happen with small steps, with small improvements, and by making things better, not only by building from scratch. What kind of decisions you should make and how to approach it; this is one of the topics I would like to discuss and share my thoughts on today.
In the description, I promised that I was going to point out some challenges that we all face in the digital transformation process. Probably some of them may apply to your organisations, or you may have a different set of challenges that you need to face in your daily operations. I would like to point out the most common ones that I see and witness in different organisations, so I consider them to be quite common.
So, the first one, and I'm going to back to it later, is perceived and implemented as a top-down process. So that the digital transformation always comes as input from the top management and key stakeholders from the company, and it's been just basically pushed down the whole organisation, which I think is challenging, and it ends up with lots of barriers of adoption.
When it comes to a top-down approach, it's kind of hard to find applicable and realistic daily things you can do to become more transformative in your organisation, so there are plenty of blockers on the way. Quite often, when you think about the digital transformation, it is hard to point out how to measure progress and how to measure success. Quite often, it's hard to even figure out at which stage of digital transformation you currently are. Should you speed up the process? Should you speed up the pace? Are you on track? This is challenging because there are no common factors or other elements that will allow you to find or access the transformation from the fully developed transformed company.
Transformation, especially when we talk about digital parts, so we are implementing more digital tools, requires a specific skill set which is hard to find on the markets, both for the companies like NoA Ignite, where we look for new talents but also for big organisations that want to get on board the new skill set. It consumes a lot of resources, mostly in terms of timing. I know you guys are all super busy with your daily operations no matter the department you work in, having another project and working on another topic; that's one of the key challenges that we often hear from our customers. Your IT departments are super busy, and there are a lot of projects going on, so it's quite often hard to start a new one, especially a complex one.
And there are, of course, technological limitations. All of the companies we've been working with in our career, or at least the majority of them, have already bigger or smaller but rather complex systems already implemented. There is this technology, there is this specific tech stack that you work with, and sometimes generating new solutions, new features or new platforms or whatever you decide to do within this technology system can be challenging and can be limited. There are some barriers coming straight from the technology. Of course, as I mentioned, there are probably more and more barriers that you face, but we consider this one to be really important.
But no matter how much we will talk about challenges, transformation is still inevitable; you will face it, even if you haven't started it yet, and you'll be challenged with that in the coming future. So, the question is how to tackle it.
First, I would like to suggest a small change of mindset. As I mentioned as the first challenge is perceived and implemented as a top-down process. I think that's something that can be reversed, or you can have another process not going top-down but going from the bottom or from the middle up. So the digital transformation can be implemented on the level of your department, on the lower level of your organisation, when you are closer to very specific, tangible issues or challenges that you need to face, the features you want to improve, or all the elements that can make you more dynamic, more digital, more user-centred and faster in your operations. I believe once we, not necessarily replace the top-down process, but create a separate one which is more rooted in the daily operations, I think that the implementation and the outcome of this type of digital transformation have more impact and help you to create better rituals and more tangible approach to implementing new features.
I promised you those five steps on how to approach this process in the health industry; as I mentioned, I'm also taking the best practices from other topics, so let's jump into them and talk more about the details.
So I framed them in five steps. The first one is more like tasks for you, not only for you personally but also for the team that's responsible for the projects that have the digital transformation mindset within. First, you need to pick the battle; you need to gather the right team, have an agreement on the vision, create the rituals and after that, or even in the middle of the process, share your wins and loses with your organisation or with other teams which are working on the similar subject or with the specific mindset. Let's dive into the details of those elements.
So first, you want to pick your battle. What I mean, and this is referring to reversing the mindset, so you don't start with a top-down approach, but you look for improvements and those elements that can be transformed around your daily operations, so you can select your business area that you want to improve, and it doesn't have to be always something that's customer-orientated, or you're working on the feature that's connected or directed towards your customers. It can be an internal process, which is also valuable, and you can also easily track the improvement, and you have a lot of knowledge about those processes, so you have a good starting point to work with them. So that can be sales, that can be organisation, training, digital training, it's the key part of current operations that we also face at our company, and you want to look for something that gives impact, and you can actually see the changes.
I mentioned earlier that it's hard to track the progress and see the positive outcomes, so you want to look for something that can be smaller but gives you a bigger chance to measure it, to value it and learn from it. Because that's what you want to do, you want to not only deliver new quality, but you also want to learn from that process. So when you are picking up your battle, the scaling is crucial, so you don't have to start with something big; it doesn't have to be innovative. If it is innovative to various degrees, then it's fine; it's perfect. I don't want to discourage you from that, but I think you don't have to consider innovation as a principle for being a transformative organisation or transformative team. If this is your first project, it's better; it's best to keep it simple; you are pioneering. Think about this project that this is a pilot, and you are going to learn a lot from it.
The second step I'm recommending is gathering the right team. It's applicable to all industries, but I think it's super important within the healthcare industry in general. Of course, you might have some specific requirements, and you could onboard more and more people to this project, but what I recommend from our experience with projects like that is to have these four people or roles in your team that you want to consult and work with from the very beginning.
So, first, quite often in the processes, the tech IT department is involved in the later/sometimes last stage of the process, and that's going to be very challenging because whatever you come up with, you have to face the tech requirements and the teach stack and also the tech limitations of your organisation. The sooner you onboard someone from the IT, someone who knows the system, someone who knows how to scale the system or connect the system, it's going to be better for you and better for the whole process and your whole solution.
The second one, that's probably no brainer, project manager, someone who can keep you on track, because there is going to be a lot of meetings, a lot of discussions, a lot of decision-making, so someone that' responsible for managing the operation, that's essential.
The third role, I call it the interviewer, that's someone who is really good at talking to people and asking the right questions. I don't think there is a specific role in your company like that, but there is always someone who has good contact with people and has the ability, the skill to get lots of information either from your customers, if you are planning a process that's related with your end customer, or someone that is good at handling internal relationships within your organisation, that can learn from different actors and people involved in this process that you want to improve, create or change in any way. So that's the role not really obvious, but it's good to have someone who not only has skills but also has time. Arranging meetings and discussions, taking notes and getting insights into all those discussions - that's going to take time and requires a specific skill set.
And last but not least is the legal department. It's sometimes a similar situation as with the teach IT; you approach the legal department at the latest or later stage of the process, and that quite often disrupts the whole idea because there are plenty of regulations, also depending on different markets and countries. So, what I recommend and what was beneficial in our projects was to involve the legal representative from scratch and consider them as a part of your team. So, then you are more solution-orientated and have a problem-solving approach which definitely can save you a lot of time and challenges at the later stage of the process.
So, what you want to do, you want to work as a team from day one. As I mentioned, these are not all the people you need on board, but I would recommend them as essentials, and sometimes there is a tendency we forget to involve them from the very beginning.
So, then what I recommend you to do is to agree internally, as a team, of course. This is related also to stakeholders, to business owners, but as a team, agree on the vision. A couple of basic questions: what do you want to improve, why do you want to improve it, who is going to benefit from that, and what's really important, how you are going to measure the success. Sometimes the measurement can be quite easy; okay, we are going to limit the number of questions or queries popping up at our service desk, but in some cases finding the right KPIs can be difficult but setting them up from the very beginning will allow you to have a good reference point in your discussion, how you want to implement that change and what do you want to transform in your company.
What I believe is also super important at this stage is that you are creating a vision; you are not creating the solution. We, as humans in general, have a tendency to come up with a solution; we learn something new that has a technology, there is a feature, there is an app, there is something that is already delivered, and it's easy to visualise and understand, and we want to implement it as a solution. That means that we are narrowing our ideas; we are focusing on a feature and not on a problem-solving approach. So, when you work with a vision, you leave yourself more space to come up with sometimes not only different solutions to your problem, but it may be more simple, they might be other better ways to fix your challenge, to fix the issue and answer your needs. So that vision-orientated, not solution-orientated approach proves to give really great results, and it is challenging on our Ignite side. As I mentioned as humans have a tendency to think from the solution perspective, but the vision gives you more and more flexibility and can benefit you in the end. And the solution will come up anyway but let's not focus on something specific on day one from the very beginning.
In the fourth step, if you are a team that just started work on innovation, you need to create some rituals. They might be already at your organisation; if not, you need to have a new place, and you need to meet and often talk as a whole team. Those discussions are beneficial to understand better the challenge and where you are in the challenge; that's crucial. You need to create some space for improvements and ways to figure out "are we on track?" and what I can, maybe not promise, but what can happen is that you have to pivot in the middle of the process. It's connected with thinking from the visual perspective, not the solution perspective.
Be ready to change in the middle of the process, you want to solve the problem, you want to answer to a change, and you shouldn't be focused on delivering the exact solution. If in the middle of the process you decide, okay, we need to change something, this will not work, or something will work better, that's only natural in those types of processes and making that step back and having the ritual and the whole mindset of making that step back and changing something on the way, this is something that, from my perspective, the foundation of the transformation that is valuable and can stick for long.
So, I think that's quite often. If you don't have the procedure for that or you don't have a plan for that, you should think about at the beginning of the process what will you do if, in the middle of implementation, you will have an important discovery that requires us to change the approach.
And the last one, which I think is not only important in terms of digital transformation projects but in general, share your wins and loses with other teams around the company. You want to learn, and you want this learning to be distributed all across the other departments. So that's how I believe the transformation mindset is built, that you learn from each other and you know that, okay, this is a complex process and not a simple delivery from 0 to 1.
And this is how the innovative and transformative culture is being built. And this drives adoption. If you share, this creates a different mindset and approach around the company to understand what the digital transformation is and what it means when you actually do it on a daily basis.
I believe that those five steps will push you in the right moment to start, so you know what you're doing, you have a team, you have a vision, you know how you are going to manage the process, and you are ready for sudden changes and updates, and you communicate what you are doing around the company to get support but also to explain other people, your peers, your colleagues, your management, your stakeholders why things are happening this way and what's beneficial in it.
And in this case, I mentioned the challenges earlier, I believe this approach will help you to overcome at least a part of the challenges you are going to face because the issue of the process being organised as top-down, we can fix that, and we can start from the more rooted level. The barriers for adoption are different because you work on the same level and share with other teams. You select a project and agree on something that gives you impact and is measurable, and can provide success. The skill set: that's a tricky part. You might require some input from third parties or some organisations, but you might find someone around organisations that are already experienced with at least part of the tasks that they need to face, so it's good to build teams which are more cross organisations, cross-department teams that can be a good improvement for your ways of work. The resource-consuming, you can limit the number of unexpected events that can make the process last longer but the initial time and effort needed to run those processes is something that you need to have; you just can't get easily rid of that. And the other technological limitations; you can partially limit the surprises or other challenges if you have the IT person from the very beginning because then you start shaping the solution, the vision having in mind what are your restrictions and limitations and there are ways to overcome them, I'm going to refer to them in a second.
A couple of tips and tools, these are the part of the transformation process, some skill set and toolset that can be useful, and it's good to think about it when you plan your operations, especially if you start the process that could be part of your routine.
So, the first one that's always research, whether you do an internal or external project, there are a lot of things to learn even from existing documents like analytics, observation process, some industry reports and interviews with customers, system operators, stakeholders, of course, this depends on who you focus on, who's your target group, who's your audience in your digital transformation project.
The second tool you want to look at is the customer journey and customer journey mapping. This is a great tool that keeps you user-focused and builds alignment around your team, and it's a great source of insights. In simple words, you envision a very specific journey of your selected actors, there is one specific scenario that you tackle, and when you interview, you build the story, you get the knowledge, you get the insight, and you can easily create the vision out of it, not the solution, the vision, and you can reply to the needs of this specific group. So that could be a good foundation.
Using that, what you're next to, and your IT department is going to be super happy that you started working this way. You are going to build the service blueprint that matches the customer journey that I just mentioned on the previous slide, but it's presenting what is happening on the back end of the system, what's happening with all the systems that you have in place or you missed. You need to develop them to understand better to deliver this journey and to create this new digitally transformed solution.
What you also want to look at is how your company is open and experienced with agile processes. When you work in iterations and want to create a specific mindset, incorporating even the basics of this approach will definitely help you if you cooperate with third parties or other providers because most companies work this way. I've been recently in the project when there was like agile process evangelist onboarded, and that person was responsible for building those rituals around the organisation; and it was a great person to work with because we've been part of adopting the new processes in the company.
And the last thing that you may find useful is to have a look at digital experience platforms. Still, not a solution, maybe, but more like a mindset. In most of the projects where we've been challenged with a quite fixed and closed technical system, technical stack, that was not really open or easy to build on top or to scale, we've been using an approach where we've been connecting existing systems with other tools with the full focus on security and data handling, that's kind of foundation of this approach, but we've been involved in the projects where we've been building new solutions that integrated with what you already have as an organisation.
So, yes, that was a quick one, so it's half past 3, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask them now, or if you want to ask the questions later, we're open to continuing this discussion. I'd like to hear from you what are your experiences, what are your challenges, your knowledge and your daily experiences are super crucial for us also to understand the other challenges that we may not be aware of in this process, so I'd like to strongly encourage you to get in touch with us; if not during the Q&A session, you can also reach to us on noaignite.co.uk.
We have this form called "book a free consultation", you can meet with me or a tech advisor or anyone who is applicable or needed in the specific type of project and discuss what could be your challenges in the digital transformation or another type of digital process that you are facing, and maybe you'd like to have a sparring partner for discussions to better prepare to your project. If you should have any questions after that, please feel free to reach me on LinkedIn, I'm very responsive, and for me, it's always a pleasure to discuss these topics with you guys, being involved in those really challenging processes in your operations. One more thing, we will be sending this presentation in the coming days, and if you feel that there is a topic that you would like to discuss, or maybe you have a different approach, then I would be more than happy to hear from you.
Thank you for sharing your time with us, and looking forward to being in touch. I hope you find it valuable; if you think there's something missing in this webinar and you'd like to add something in the future, we can have a more complex and broader approach to that, please drop me a line. It's always a pleasure to hear your feedback. So, thank you very much and have a good day and let's be in touch. Bye!
Senior UX Designer & Customer Experience Strategist
Szymon has been creating digital worlds for over 15 years, always designing solutions around a business strategy. Focussing on both business profits and user needs, he strives to find a realistic balance between the two.
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